How to decode a job spec
When you’re actively looking for a job, it can be easy to miss a few crucial details from the job spec, especially when you’re rushing around and are desperate to find a job.
What’s more, as they’re often set out in a similar structure, it can be easy to skim over the job spec and only taking in a few details, such as the job title.
But, it’s important to read every aspect of the job spec carefully before you apply, to ensure that your skills and experience are right for the role. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common aspects of a job spec, to see how to decode them effectively.
Analyse the job title
Like a bright neon sign, it’s probably what attracted you to the job in the first place. But make sure you go beyond just the job title. Analyse the list of responsibilities included and assess whether they fit the appropriate title.
If it’s a managerial role, ask yourself whether the responsibilities correspond with the title. The same applies to an entry-level position. Remember that certain terms can vary from industry to industry; an executive in one company might be far more senior in another.
So, keep this in mind when searching through the job spec and make sure that the daily tasks are consistent with the position level and title.
Focus on the responsibilities
Now it’s time to hone in on the responsibilities even further. Arguably, this is the most important aspect, as it’s what you’ll actually be doing in the job role.
Usually, you will find a list of responsibilities bullet pointed in the job spec. Focus on the order of the tasks as this reveals quite a lot about the importance of each individual requirement.
Employers usually list the most important duties first, so make sure these are something you can achieve. The easiest way to do this is by taking a highlighter to the job description or placing a tick next to each requirement that you meet or exceed in your current role.
If you’re not familiar with the majority of the bullet points, then maybe the job isn’t the right one for you. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident about the duties you’ll be expected to fulfil if you do get the job.
Understand the experience required
If you’ve found some gaps in your checklist, don’t be too disheartened. There may be areas for negotiation and development in the role.
For example, if you only have two years’ experience, as opposed to the three that the company requires, it’s still worth considering the role as the employer could allow a little room for leniency.
Keep in mind that writing a job description is often like a wish list of every possible qualification the company would like from the candidate. Approach the list critically and don’t abandon the job sec based on a couple of minor requirements.
Assess the required qualifications
The qualifications section of the job spec describes the type of professional requirements that applicants should have.
Decipher which skills are essential and which are desired, as you could probably get away without having a couple of the desired skills so long as you have the essential skills. Just be wary that other candidates might have what they’re looking for.
Make sure that you have concrete examples and figures to support your claims when it comes to the critical skills and qualifications required. These will really help to set you apart from other candidates by allowing you to exhibit your professional and personal strengths in the interview.
Ready to decode a job spec?
Remember that a solid job description shouldn’t ever leave you wondering what your day to day responsibilities will be, how your performance will be judged and what skills and qualifications are required to succeed.
When you’re looking for a job, you should always to take the time to analyse the job spec thoroughly. This way you can tailor your CV and cover letter according to what the job spec has highlighted.
The last thing you want to do is to apply for anything and everything as this wastes both your time and the employer’s.