How to Read Between the Lines of a Job Posting

Deciphering job postings can often be a head scratching exercise especially when it’s often littered with industry specific lingo and complex business terminology. After writing, creating and personally applying to many different types of postings, here are some tips that can help you decipher whether or not a job is for you.


Often times for job postings, companies will have a section in which they will tell you exactly what they are looking for and what skills you must have in order to be hired. All this is listed as your qualifications, which are often the easiest to sift through. You either have it, don’t have it or are obtaining it. Your qualifications are often accredited by a known third-party provider, such as a university/college or an association such as the Canadian Red Cross (for first aid certifications). These items enable employers to quickly comb through and make their first round of resume/application eliminations. The other type of qualifications that may be required of you are years of experience within a certain industry, which typically lends credence to your capabilities in a specific area. Simply put, make sure you look for these pieces of information prior to going through the rest of the posting and getting too excited, only to later realize that you might not be a good fit after all.


If the qualifications section was the bone, then the description section is the meat of the information. This section of a job posting will give you all the information you need to know as a potential candidate applying for a job. Sometimes a description is very simplified, other times it will provide great detail.  Let’s look at how to analyze both:

Simplified Job Descriptions: When reading a simplified version, you will be able to pull out the company’s ultimate reason behind why they are looking to hire, usually in a sentence or two.

Eg: “ABC Company is searching for a Customer Service Representative to work closely with our Department Supervisor.”

These job descriptions require a bit of educated guessing to really figure out what they are asking from you. It’s highly recommended that you search other similar postings to find common themes so that you know what you are getting yourself into.

Detailed Job Descriptions: These job descriptions can both be helpful and hindering. When the posting is well worded or in an easy to read format, you can get great insight into what a job entails. However, many times they can be hard to understand.  If that is the case for you, ensure that you look for common themes or words throughout such as, “listen, communicate, discuss, collaborate,” or “analyze, research, find, exploration”. When you find those common themes or words, it usually much easier to disseminate what it is the employer is looking for.

Application Process:

Arguably one of the most important parts of a job posting for both employer and applicant would be how one can apply for the position. The hope is that there are clear instructions within the posting that indicates who you can contact, how to fill out the application form and where to submit your resume. (If you haven’t already, read our quick tips on freshening up your resume). Be sure that as the applicant, you read the instructions thoroughly on where and how to apply. Sometimes a job posting can be posted on multiple different job sites and if you do not read carefully, you may end up submitting your resume to a secondary site where the employer will never receive it.

As a last tip, remember to save every single job posting that you apply for.  Not only will this help with your own career development so that you know what qualifications your dream job requires, but you can also save yourself interview preparation time if you get a call back. Especially now that we are in age where you can potentially send out hundreds of resumes from your computer in under an hour, it’s important that you have a way of keeping track of your career related progress.

If you want extra tips on deciphering job postings or have tips of your own, please share or ask us, we are excited to hear from you!

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