Using the Job Description to Get your Next Job

For many people, the job description is just an “announcement” that garners little more attention than the place to send the resume. But you don’t want to be one of the “many” – you want to be “the one” who gets the job. Right?
So the first step in the job application process really is to recognize what the job posting is: it’s the description of what the job is, and what the employer wants. It’s the yardstick by which every application will be measured.

  1. Assume the lowest common denominator. Some companies use clerks, interns or even computer systems to kick out the applicants who ‘don’t fit the bill.’ Make it clear you have the qualifications.
  2. Speak their language. If they call a position “Director of Sales” rather than “Sales Director” don’t assume they mean the same thing. Call the position title (and job number if provided) by exactly what the job ad lists it as.  Use the same key words (not sure how to do this? See tip 2 in our article The Habits of Effective Online Job Hunters) [Webmaster note: link to The Habits of Effective Online Job Hunters] the company uses: if their position requires someone who can edit, include that word.
  3. Copy and Paste. Quite literally, copy and paste the job description into your cover letter. Use the major points of the job description in your cover letter. This does two things: first, it ensures you address all of the job requirements in the job ad, and second, it makes your letter truly customized to the job you’re applying to.
  4. Connect the dots for the reviewer.  Switching industries can be challenging. But don’t let that sway you from applying for jobs that you could easily do; you’ll just have a bit of explaining to do. Show the reviewer or hiring manager that while you may not be in their industry, you have the translatable skills that apply to their position, or how your industry is similar to theirs (or even perhaps ahead of the game in certain areas).
  5. Show Results. Don’t just list job duties that match the job ad (ie: responsible for supervising and hiring staff): show how you attained or exceeded expectations (Supervised 15 employees; department maintained a 90% retention rate during my management including hiring 3 new employees).  Managers hire for results.
  6. Show insight.  Sure there are the requirements listed. But then there are always the “unspoken needs” that sometimes the employers themselves forget (or don’t know how to word tactfully.) For example, a leader might be hiring for an executive assistant. Included in that role are all the usual clerical and “assisting” types of activities. But any executive assistant worth their salt knows there is more to that job than just taking care of meetings and correspondence. Show you understand the needs of the position: the tact this particular type of job requires, the attention to detail this role mandates, or the type of person who succeeds in this type of role.
  7. Proof read. It might go without saying, but proof reading and spell check are not the same thing. Your resume is akin to a corporation’s website or brochure. Take particular care and time to make sure every word on the page reflects well on you.

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