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How to Read a Job Description

Learn how to read a job description to help you understand the roles you may apply to.

Reading a Job Description

Whether you’re searching for your first position after graduating or looking to switch roles, reading a job description can be overwhelming. Job descriptions may look different by industry or employment type. Here are a few ways to tackle the first step in job searching.

Breaking down the sections of a job description is important to understand the roles you may apply to.

Typically, a job description will contain the following parts:

Job Title

A job title for the same role type may be different at different companies. With this in mind, it’s important to focus on the required skills and qualifications to understand what the role is asking for in a candidate. This will help you determine if you’re a fit for the role. Once you’ve landed an interview, you should ask how the job title relates to your day-to-day.

Company Description

The company description will give you information about how the company operates and help you identify if the company is the right fit for you. A few questions to help evaluate the company description and gain some insight can include:

  • How do they describe their employee life?
  • What are the employee benefits?
  • What is the in-office, hybrid, or remote schedule?
  • Do they use inclusive language?
  • Do they sound approachable, or do they use jargon?

Employment Type

The employment type section can give you information if the role is a full-time, part-time, or a contract position. Keep in mind different employment types may determine the different benefits you have access to after entering the role.

Job Location

The job location section will tell you if the company has a hybrid, remote, or office work option. It can help you determine if you will need to commute or relocate for the role.

Job Overview & Duties

The job overview and duties section will help you understand what will be expected of you in the role; this includes any functions, duties, and responsibilities. It will also help to understand how this role may fit into the rest of the company.

Required Qualifications

The required qualifications section will list the skills, experiences, and/or certifications you will need for the role. This section can include years of experience, degree type, and critical skills. Key words in this section could also be used to tailor your resume and/or cover letter.

Although the job description may say “required” for the candidate they’re looking for, often the job description is describing the ideal candidate. If you meet at least 60%-70% of the requirements, take the opportunity to apply!

In addition to reading and understanding the job description, you should research the company. This is a way to help you decide if it will be a good fit for you. Check out their website, recent news articles, social media channels, and any connections you may have within your network.

Before you apply, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you reviewed your resume and tailored it to this role?
  • Did you follow the application instructions?
  • Did you create a personalized cover letter?

Visit Ascend’s Job Seeker Resources page to learn more about these strategies and other helpful tips.

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