Joel Schwartzberg, in his insightful article, What Job Description Jargon is Actually Saying, makes this important point: A job description (JD) is more than just a summary of a role. A JD may hold more clues than first meets the eye, including hints about corporate culture, the true prioritization of their needs, and what might be secretly negotiable. Knowing how to find these clues may give you a distinct advantage over other applicants. Knowing how to find these clues may give you a distinct advantage over other applicants.

Joel provides these five ways to decode a JD to understand not only what your targeted organization needs but who they want:

  • Qualifications are usually listed in order of importance, and while skills listed as “required” may be non-negotiable, “desired” skills are not a deal breaker.
  • Look for clues in the JD about company culture. It will likely include information about what the organization values.
  • Required “years of experience” are flexible. Employers are more interested in your maturity and proven ability.
  • Job titles differ company to company, so don’t make assumptions based on the title.
  • Remote work has become much more ubiquitous, so don’t rule out opportunities that don’t immediately seem to fit your lifestyle or location.

You can read more detail about each one in Joel’s article. The bottom line: All career experts agree that thorough preparation is critical to getting the job you want. Decoding a job description is only one part of that preparation, but it could be the one tactic that gives you a decisive edge.

About Garrison Leykam, PhD

Certified Business Coach (Expert Level)
Certified Remote Work Professional
Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC)
Certified Professional, Résumé Writer (CPRW)
Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP)
Certified Life Coach (Expert Level)
PhD Marketing, MA Psychology
LinkedIn profile in Top 25 MA, PhD profiles in U.S.
Top 1% LinkedIn Industry Social Selling Index
Author, Audacious at Any Age and Design You

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