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Understanding job adverts

When you read the advert really try to understand the role – are you clear about its purpose and how it fits with the work of the organisation? It’s difficult to do a great application if you don’t understand these basics.  Ask “what would I be doing in this job and why?”  Try to see beyond the jargon!

Don’t be put off if you can’t do every single thing they are asking for in the advert. If you can do the majority it’s worth considering applying, but be realistic. If you are not sure, book an appointment to talk to a Careers Consultant.

What evidence can you give for the skills they are looking for? It’s not about having direct experience of each part of the job, but it’s about making sure you give evidence of your ability and experience.

Analyse the words they use in the advert – what do they tell you about the person who will be a good fit for the company? Are they “fast growing”, “dynamic”, “results orientated”, “challenging”?  Does this sound like you? 

Don’t be put off by the job title – it may not say “graduate”, but there are ways you can decide if it’s graduate level.  What are the responsibilities? What qualifications are they asking for? Think about where you saw the advert – was it on a graduate jobs board like Handshake, Prospects or Targetjobs for example – if so, chances are they are looking for a graduate! However if they are using phrases like “proven track record”, “senior”, ”experienced” it might be that this is not a graduate entry level position.

Reading the job advert properly will give you lot of information to decide if this is the right job for you and how to make the best application you can. Look at the sample job adverts below for more explanations.

Graduate scheme advert example explained


Direct entry vacancy advert example explained


Understanding some terms used in job adverts

Business Development: This can often refer to sales or increasing business through activities such as networking.

Competitive salary: If the salary is not stated it could mean that it’s similar to what other employers are paying for a similar level of work or it could mean that it’s negotiable. Do your research in case the question is asked at interview.

Core Competencies: These are the key skills and abilities the employer is looking for in the ideal candidate. If you do not match most of these you might reconsider your application.

Dynamic/Proactive: Active, energetic, solves problems, uses initiative to progress projects or find new ways to do things.

Fast paced/challenging role: There are likely to be lots of competing priorities that could be difficult to manage. They are looking for someone who enjoys this type of role and who can consistently meet deadlines.

Flexible: This suggests that you will be required to take on other tasks as required even if they are outside your immediate responsibility, or work in a different location for example. It may be that working late evenings or weekends to complete projects is required – so someone who is prepared to go the extra mile.

Self-starter/Fast Learner Suggests that there may not be a lot of training and you will be expected to pick things up quickly.

Stakeholders:  Everyone who has a share, interest, investment or impact in an organisation. Stakeholders can be internal or external to the company.