Applying for jobs is not a straightforward business and there are lots of factors to bear in mind. Even when you think you’ve found the perfect job for you, reading through the job description and person specification might be a bit of a minefield before you even get to the interview. Here are some tips to help you through the process.

Be wary of any job descriptions which measure experience in time

For example, “a minimum of three years’ experience in a similar role”. In these cases it’s very important that you understand why an employer might be asking for this. It’s not designed to weed out people who only have two years and nine months experience, nor does it mean they will automatically hire people who have much more experience than required.

This clause is generally used to put a halt on people who will fire off applications to absolutely anything without really thinking about whether they’re suited for the job. Unless you have no relevant experience at all, have a good think about whether your existing experience is truly enough. If you can prove it, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to hear from you even if you’ve not been in a similar role for exactly the right amount of time.

Don’t be intimidated by management-speak

For some job descriptions, you have to work out the difference between things which you don’t understand due to lack of experience and things which you don’t understand because they haven’t been made clear enough. Management-speak tends to pepper a lot of office-based job descriptions to slim down the number of applications received. Here are some words and phrases which can be demystified:

  • Increase brand awareness – Make us look good
  • Build relationships with key stakeholders – Be nice to the people who give us money
  • Results-orientated – Don’t faff about
  • Self-motivated – Don’t make us ask you twice
  • Liaise/communicate/negotiate – Make noises with your mouth which make sense to other people

And so on and so forth.

Pay attention to the things you don’t know

If a job description lists a certain type of experience under “Essentials” (for example, managerial, financial, web development etc) and you definitely do not have it then don’t waste your time applying. There are times when it really is better to just let it go and move on to something else. It’s also worth bearing in mind that managerial experience can be specific – managing a shop is not the same as managing a team of freelancers, for example.

Another good sign of whether a position is for you is whether you understand all the acronyms used in the job description. CRM, ROI, SEO, CMS… Look it up by all means but if you’ve never come across the product, technique or program before then chances are the job isn’t for you.

Do you have trouble understanding job descriptions? Or are you sick of receiving applications from people who don’t understand yours? Let me know in the comments.