How to Analyze a Job Description
Job postings can be found in many places including company websites, classifieds websites and of course, job boards. Because the job search is moving overwhelmingly to the digital space, there is an abundance of postings across several different kinds of websites. For the most part, legitimate job postings are comprised of much of the same elements. These include an explanation of the company and typical tasks for the role. This guide will teach job seekers how to analyze a job description.
Tip 1: Look for Keywords
Keywords are terms job posters use to describe the tasks, software and experience desired for a certain position. Sometimes, the keywords are specific to an industry. Some companies even use well-known industry acronyms denoting a type of desired certification or degree. No matter what the industry or role is, there are keywords that give insight into the nature of the position.
For example, companies in the online marketing space may seek candidates who have experience with SEO, SEM, PPC and CRM. If you do not work in this space, you would have no idea that the employer is interested in hiring someone experience with search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay-per-click advertising and customer relationship management experience.
Less cryptic keywords are dispersed throughout job descriptions as well, to include “experience managing a team,” “budgeting,” “training,” “developing presentations” and “establishing benchmarks.” These terms are typical keywords used when seeking managerial candidates.
If you want to determine keywords in a job description, there are several places to look. The first place to analyze is the job title. Does it have the word “manager” or other indicator of the role you are seeking? Second, look at the job description. A job description typically relays something to the effect of,“XYZ Company is seeking a Senior Accountant with experience using Quickbooks. Must be able to conduct financial audits and lead a team of other accountants…”
The above example names the title, desired software experience and skills. In addition to the summary, a job description likely lists out tasks or requirements, such as:
- Master’s degree in Accounting and/or 10 years in-office experience.
- Analyzes financial data and makes recommendations.
- Has extensive knowledge of Quickbooks.
Keywords are sprinkled throughout a job description relaying relevant information and the desires of the hiring manager. Read the description in its entirety to understand what the hiring company is looking for.
Tip 2: Is it a fake job posting?
With a little bit of practice, spotting a fake job posting can be easy. While being excited about a new job and income is understandable, use caution when reviewing job descriptions. The first sign to determine if a posting is fake is if it is too good to be true. That’s right, if a company claims to offer extremely high pay for what seems to be menial tasks, it is likely fake.
Another indicator that a job posting is fake is if the company information is not listed. Job posters who need to fill a position often include information about the company, the business sector, the location and other attractive attributes to lure the best talent. In some cases, hiring companies who do not want to be listed hire recruiters. Once the recruiter speaks to a candidate, the company information is revealed.
If you notice grammatical and spelling errors while reading a job description, it may not be legitimate. To see one or two is not a big indicator that it is fake, but to see a job description riddled with errors from a seemingly reputable company is a red flag.
If the job poster’s contact information is not available, it may be a fake posting. In addition, anyone who asks for bank information or personal information before an employee has been hired and signed papers is probably looking to scam the applicant. Lastly, if a job posts a tempting salary with a vague job description or minimal skill requirements, job seekers may be looking at a fake post.
Tip 3: Determine If It’s the Right Job for You
Since you are the one who will hopefully perform the tasks on a long-term basis, you have to be sure you are willing to perform the work in exchange for the benefits offered. Therefore, reviewing the job descriptions helps determine whether the job is right for you.
First, determine if you have the experience and skills required for the position. Second, review the job schedule and desired number of hours. Is it full time or part time? Are you okay with the proposed number of hours or would they cause a conflict with personal life obligations, such as picking up your children from school or other activities? Is the schedule set or flexible?
Consider the location and how long you have to commute each day. How will it affect your gas and automobile expenses? Can you see yourself travelling to this location daily or would you rather work in a different area? Can you possibly move closer to your job setting if everything goes well over time?
How do the position pay and benefits stack up with your expectations? Do they offer excellent benefits such as full health coverage or life insurance? Do they offer 401(k) matching or savings on purchases? Consider the pay and benefits package to see if you can live reasonably and save.
Finally, think about your potential to grow within the company. Does the description mention opportunity for growth? Can you see yourself growing and developing professionally with this company? Think of all the above when reviewing a job description.
Tip 4: Research the Company
One of the most important tasks when analyzing a job description is researching the company that posted the job. It goes beyond the job post and requires you to do a little heavy lifting. Start by going directly to the company’s website and reading its “About Us” pages, its clients and members of the team, if applicable. Read up on the company’s history and culture to get a feel of what it is like to work there.
Go to job sites that allow current and previous employees to rate their experiences with the company. These help when determining whether the company is a good fit because they relay an employee’s first-hand experience there. Look for those who worked in the same capacity you hope to fill and read up on their experiences.
Read the reviews of other workers as well. Even if they are not doing the same type of work you desire, they may have some insight into the way teams are managed and how employees are treated within the organization.
Do a web search for the company to see if there are any current news listings or pictures of the office and its staff. Decide if the reviews and descriptions are enough to entice you. While finding the right job can be a long or difficult undertaking, applying for the wrong company will not end well in the long run. Consider whether the company’s culture and compensation are a good fit with your values and desired career, and go from there.