Updated: Aug 7, 2020
How do you read a job posting? What do you mean, how do you read a Job Posting? You just read it. Duh. "Looking for a self-starter, a passionate individual... blah blah blah..." Not quite. There's more to it.
If you want a $100K job, you have to put $100K effort into it. If you want a $20K job, then go ahead, put in $20K's worth of effort. You reap what you sow.
When I read a job posting, I pretend I'm Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory and rip it the fork apart.
Just watch how meticulous and anal-retentive Sheldon gets. I'm a Virgo, so I can totally relate to the character. I go in-depth into my research if I really want the job.
Why do I do this? Because ummm... Logic. 😉
You spend how much time looking for a house, which could run you $250,000 -- maybe 3 months? You spend how much time shopping for a car, which costs $38,000? Maybe 2-3 weeks? Heck, you probably spend more time figuring out what to watch next on Netflix than reading a job posting. It's ok. I've definitely done it, but WHERE ARE YOU GOING WITH THIS, Cathryn? :)
You are about to apply for a job that will be your main source of income -- let's say it's $50,000. Why would you spend only a minute reading it and then, apply to it blindly?
You spend more time looking for a movie on Netflix than a potential job -- somewhere you spend on average 10 hours a day.
If you factor in work, commute, sleep, chores, and errands, you spend more of your life at work than with your family. So tell me why would you spend more time looking for a Netflix movie than reading a job posting?
This is what I call, "A Penny Wise, a Pound Foolish."
That is one of my all-time favorite expressions. Commit it to memory. :) Basically, you're stepping over dollars to pick up a penny. Another take on that phrase.
What Should I Look for in a Job Posting?
Tailor your Level of Effort (LOE) to how much you want the job.
In other words, if you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want a job, then put as much effort as I'm showing you below. If you don't really care much about it, just put the bare minimum. But don't forget you get what you put in. :)
So let's say you really, really, really wanted to be a Store Manager at this huge retailer because it pays $175,000/year and you really want to get PAID. So you should probably invest at least 1 hour analyzing and dissecting the job posting. It is worth it so you can ensure that you are qualified and your resume reflects exactly what they want. Below is an actual Job Posting of a Store Manager position (with company name redacted).
This process is what I like to call "Front Loading" -- it's a term that's used in Software Engineering.
Front Loading is basically when you do most of the work upfront, so you do less and better work later.
It's like that saying, "Success is 90% preparation and 10% execution."
How Do You Decode a Job Description?
Step 1: Go through your resume and make sure you qualify for at least 50% of the job requirements, especially when it says "Candidate must have..."
Step 2: Copy the entire text of the Job Posting and other pertinent information like the benefits into Word.
Step 3: Highlight everything that seems weird to you. I know that sounds strange, but if it sounds peculiar, highlight it and research it. Everything else is stuff you might already know and probably have on your resume.
Step 4: Write your initial notes and observations everywhere. Look for minimum qualifications, preferred qualifications, etc.
Where is it located? Think about commute cost.
Is it a normal day shift? If not, impact to your sleep schedule should add to your salary negotiation.
Is it remote? Less money spent on fuel.
Are you supervising a team? How many? That's more performance reviews, training, mentoring, etc.
How many supervisors would you have? That's more meetings and reports that you have to do for them.
What are your other responsibilities? That adds to time taken away from your day to day.
What would your actual day be like? Think about if you could do this in 50 hours a week.
Step 5: Analyze it More and More - Pretend to be Sheldon or Sherlock
Take it another step further. This takes practice because I'm used to thinking outside the box. I love to challenge myself. Being in Engineering, I'm used to critical thinking and problem solving. But try to pick out clues. Read into things -- it's good to put yourself into the hiring manager's shoes. If you were them, what would you want?
Look at what order the job requirements are in -- usually the first requirement is the most important. The ordering of the requirements is sometimes in order of importance. It's psychological -- humans tend to place their most important need first.
Look at the management structure, if they publish it. How many other people report to you or would you report to? That would make me think about how much I should ask for and how much I would be willing to sacrifice with my personal life.
Look at the other job postings, similar to the one you really want (on the company site). Compare and contrast. See how for this job posting there were similar Store Manager positions but for different revenue sizes, which shows that they categorize their managers by revenue. The more revenue that a manager can handle, the more money they can make but also more responsibilities and people they probably have to handle -- which means more headache.
Look at patterns like if words are repeated over and over and do a word count. Why are they using the same words over and over? This usually means that they really care about this topic. For example, in this job posting the kept bringing up "community". What does that tell you? Community is a big deal for them. So for your resume and interview, make sure you emphasize community and bring up that specific word A LOT.
Watch for vague phrases like "and other duties...". If it ever says anything like this, it means that they were either:
too busy to list everything;
too many things to list;
don't want to scare you off;
don't know what else to put; or
left there by accident because it's a default description and they forgot about it :)
Whatever the reason, just make sure that you're flexible and willing to do whatever it takes.
Hope all this helps you understand why it's so important to break down Job Postings like this. You don't have to do this for every single job. Just the ones that you REALLY, REALLY want.
Remember, nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy. If it was, everyone would be a millionaire. :)
For more valuable tips, don't forget to check out the rest of them here and the videos. Stay connected with me for more career advice and more job alerts -- subscribe to my newsletter below, YouTube,LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I want to see you succeed!!! 😎🤗💪🏆👍😉