Reading a Job Posting

What should you be reading in a job posting?

  • Employers screen your resume and cover letter for key words/phrases used in their job posting
  • Your documents are more likely to make it to the YES pile if you include their key words/phrases
  • The job posting includes information about the required/preferred knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) which are the key words/phrases that employers screen for
  • Your resume and cover letter are not all about you, but rather about how your KSAs match what the employer is looking for

How do you read the job posting effectively?

The following strategies below can be used to find the key elements in the job posting and fine tune them to your resume and cover letter:

Highlight key words

Highlight all the required/preferred KSAs – especially take note of repeated words used throughout the job description, both hard and soft skills.

Write examples

For each of the KSAs highlighted, write an example of how you have demonstrated it through your past employment or school. This is your chance to tell your story and inspire the employer to meet you. Keep a copy of these examples as it will help you prepare for your interview. Try to match any relevant examples that fit well together to save on space. Keep them simple.

Consider related skills

If there are skills you have developed that are noteworthy, but are not mentioned in the job advertisement, consider adding them if they will enhance your chance of getting an interview. Ensure they are relevant to the position you are applying for.

Research the employer

Research the employer beyond the job description to show your interest in the company (mention this in your cover letter), and to bring up in conversation in a potential interview. Employers want to hire someone who wants to work for them, so write knowledgably. Do not copy and paste anything from their website.

Keep a record

Keep track a detailed list (date, action, contact, etc) of the job descriptions you have applied for to help you prepare for the interview.