Career Advice, Jobs

Tricky, Tricky: How to Read Between the Lines of A Job Description

No, no, no — yes! You’ve scanned through what feels like millions of job posts and have finally found one that’s worthy of further investigation.

But the frustration ensues as you begin reading.

From qualifications to company descriptions, it becomes overwhelming. So, you exit the window and miss out on what could’ve been the perfect opportunity.

While job descriptions can be tough to decipher, there are ways to answer your own questions and ease the decision on whether or not to apply.

Here’s how to get the answers you need:

1. Can I grow at this company?

Looking closely at the job you’re applying to is obviously important, but so is knowing where you can go from there. In fact, 82 percent of candidates feel seeing the team structure and where the job fits into the organization is important, according to a recent report of 4,505 job seekers.

[Related: How to Nail an Interview With a Values-Driven Company]

Knowing where the positions fits within the organization will help you decide if there’s room to grow. If room for growth isn’t explained in the job description, using the job title is the best place to start. Go to the company website and look for the “About Us” page to see where your job title fits into the hierarchy.

Sometimes the best place to find information about a company’s opportunities is from current and former employees. Glassdoor has options for job seekers to not only find jobs, but see comments, reviews, and salaries.

2. Does this fulfill my passions?

Finding a job you’re passionate about is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. While half of the previously mentioned CareerBuilder survey respondents are wondering, “Are they looking for someone like me?” you should be asking, “Am I looking for someone like them?”

[Related: 4 Steps to Land Your Dream Job]

Go directly to the position’s main duties and line them up with the company’s mission statement. Are you able to see how the everyday tasks lineup with the overall progress of the company and customers?

It isn’t just your position that affects your passion for a career—it’s the company as a whole. Look to the website for the organization’s values and compare them to the impact you hope to have on customers—or even the world.

3. Is the salary worth my career move?

Asking yourself this question can be tricky because sometimes a career move is worth a drop in pay. Before applying, decide what amount you’re willing to sacrifice for a career you’re happier with—or what amount will encourage you to leave your current position.

When a listed salary doesn’t quite fit your needs or career goals, don’t rule the position out just yet. Many companies are willing to negotiate on salary if they feel you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

However, if a salary isn’t listed, Glassdoor offers ways to see what others in similar positions are making.

4. Do my skills fulfill the requirements?

Understanding what skills a company is willing, or not willing, to negotiate on is difficult. It’s important to never look at a job description in basic black and white—be creative.

Listing the number of years of experience a qualified candidate needs is a great example of where companies might have wiggle room. Think beyond typical work experience and consider volunteer opportunities, education, or even skills you acquired from previous positions.

[Related: 6 Skills That Will Get You the Job]

Certain areas of knowledge are set in stone, but there are some skills you may be able to work around. For example, if you’re applying to a sales position, but have no sales experience—it’s time to move on. However, lacking certain software or computer skills could be overlooked if you’re a quick learner.

When considering skills and requirements, it’s important to be honest with yourself and the company. Overselling your skills or ability to learn new things quickly could set you up for a stressful start — or worse, failure.

5. Will I fit into the company culture?

Companies are putting more focus on employer branding, so many are openly sharing values, beliefs, and benefits within job descriptions. A job post that explains what a potential candidate might love about the company points to an employee-centric environment and deserves a closer look.  

[Related: How I Got My Job: Finding a Company Culture You Love]

Make a list of what you’re looking for in an employer. For example, flexibility options, location, company size, a fun office culture, or even a transparent leadership system. Once you have your list, compare it to the job description. Checking off most of your needs might mean you’ll fit right in with this company and its employees.

[Related: Seven Company Culture Questions You Must Ask Before Accepting A Job Offer]

Networking is a great way to get into the heart of a company. Connect with current employees through social media to get a feel for a company’s passions and perks. You’ll find some employees are posting fun co-worker activities, while others have pictures of their favorite pet sitting next to them in their home office.

TELL US! What tricks do you have for deciphering a job description? Let us know on Facebook @Glassdoor

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