When looking for a job, we often feel in a hurry to find the perfect posting. So, we quickly skim through each posting, not wanting to waste time on the frilly details.



A lot of those frilly details are crucial to getting the job. It can even help to make a great first impression with a unique cover letter.

It can also help you save time by applying only to the jobs best suited for you.

All of the knowledge you find, however, can be hard to sort through.

This article will give five tips on decoding any job advertisement following the standard layout of job postings.

1. Job Title

Job titles can be extremely confusing because of how similar titles can be.

However, if you closely pay attention to the words used in an advertisement, you will find hidden messages in the amount of responsibility the title will give.

For example, the title secretary and administrative assistant are often used interchangeably. But, administrative assistants often have more accountability than the average secretary.

On top of being a secretary, an administrative assistant may have to organize meetings and conferences, perform bookkeeping tasks, and even manage the office budget secretary.

Researching the title before you apply will save a lot of time and effort.

2. Experience or Requirements

This section of the job description will tell you precisely what you need or will be needing to do on the job.

If the job title is janitorial assistant, you may be mopping floors, cleaning windows, and requiring experience mixing cleaning supplies.

Many times these lists are more of a preference than a necessity. You can tell by the language in the advertisement if any lack of requirements would make you ineligible to apply.

Look for stressing words such as “must,” “need,” or the obvious, “do not apply without….”

3. About Us

Almost all job listings provide an overview of the company that is posting for the job.

Here you will find information on the company’s values, mission, and history. This section will also hint at what kind of work environment you can expect to face, otherwise known as the company culture.

You will also find words like “passionate, hard-working, or fun," which will give you an idea of what the company is looking for in a person.

Based on this information, you can adjust your cover letter to prove you're a good fit for the job or decide that the job isn’t for you.

4. Benefits and Pay

When a job posting does include this information, jobs that pay hourly income are usually specific in number or range.

However, companies offering salaried positions aren’t that specific. They expect the pay to be discussed and agreed upon during employment negotiations.

Phrases such as "salary commensurate with experience" or "competitive salary" are commonly used. This makes it difficult to understand what kind of salary you might get depending on your skill level.

Companies often clearly list the offered benefits, considering most all employees get the same benefits.

5. Applying Details

Most job postings will clearly explain how to apply for the position.

Read this section carefully.

For example, most job listings will give an email to send your cover letter and resume to and then direct you to a website to fill out an application.

Follow each step carefully and complete all of the instructions given. Otherwise, your application will be considered incomplete.

Also, be aware of instructions involving follow-up calls or emails.

If you can’t follow simple directions listed in a job posting, chances are you won’t be following instructions on the job either.

Some companies even add a step to the process as a test to ensure that you follow directions.

Bonus Tip: Include Pertinent Keywords

Many job recruiters use an electronic program called ATS or applicant tracking systems. This program skims through the resumes of applicants, searching for keywords that pertain to the job offer.

Deciphering and including these keywords will help your resume get past the ATS program and into the employer's hands.


All information given in job listings is important. Reading and understanding this information is crucial to submit the perfect application.

It can also help you to ace your interviews and get the job you deserve.

Just like a detective, you can decode job advertisements and make your job hunt a success.

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