Decoding Job Ads

If you’ve been searching for a job, you’ll know exactly what employers are looking for; “passionate, dynamic, proactive communicators who have a good track record…”


Don’t be intimidated or put off by buzz-words and recruiter’s stock phrases – these clichés are easy enough to decode and to use to your advantage by looking at the ways you can demonstrate these skills.

Commonly [over] used job advert phrases include:


self ˈstɑː.tər
Employer is looking for: Someone who can take initiative and work without supervision.
Demonstrate this by: Referencing any task or activity where you worked alone, or received little guidance, and achieved a good result

Employer is looking for: Confident individuals who are motivated by their work and capable of taking on new tasks.
Demonstrate this by: Describing a time when you’ve come up with new ideas or took on a new task with enthusiasm and utilisaed your problem-solving skills.

fɔːr.wɚd ˈθɪŋ.kɪŋ
Employer is looking for: Someone who has a positive, ambitious approach to their work and can see the bigger picture in terms of how their contribution matters.
Demonstrate this by:  Referencing a time when you faced a problem, but still pulled through and completed the project.

‘Good track record’
ɡʊd ˈtræk ˌrek.ɔːd
Employer is looking for: A demonstration of your suitability for a role by giving examples of times you’ve exemplified their requirements – just saying you have a good track record is not enough!
Demonstrate this by: Reading the job description thoroughly, making sure that your CV/ covering letter/ application shows genuine evidence of the ski;lls and experience the employer is looking for.

‘Detail/ goal-oriented’
ˈdiː.teɪl / ɡəʊl–ɔː.ri.en.tɪd
Employer is looking for:  Their applicants to be especially focused on one of two things – details or results.
Demonstrate this by:  Explaining your focus on the little details and/or goals, and provide examples to back up the skills you’ve gained.

‘Competitive salary’
kəmˈpet.ɪ.tɪv ˈsæl.ər.i
Employer means:  Salary may be dependent on your current skills and experience.
Talk about this by:  Asking about salary as early as you can.  This might be possible during the application stage, but if not it’s perfectly acceptable to ask at the interview stage.

These are just a few examples of how to read between the lines to decode who and what the employer is really looking for.  Try applying these techniques to some of the live job ads over on CareerHub.

Our thanks go to Reed for the article that inspired this content.


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