LESSON 2: How to Read a Job Ad (Blog)

This article teaches you to identify key points in a job ad, how to interpret those therms, what terms should not be used, and steps to take before you assemble your resume.

LESSON 2: How to Read a Job Ad (Blog)


Hello, job seekers! We talked in Lesson 1 where to search for a job. Now that you’ve had some time to explore the links that were offered, we’ll cover how to read and interpret a job ad outlining next steps we will use in Lesson 3. We’ll cover understanding the ad itself, how to interpret key terms, what’s legal and illegal in an ad, and finish with next steps.


In this lesson, as before, I will offer you a number of links on the topic.  I encourage you to bookmark them and/or add them to your favorites for future reference. For this exercise, you may wish to pull up an ad of interest so that you can compare. You can print it and use highlighters or, if you want to save trees, you can copy it into a Word document and use the highlighting function. Ready?


Purdue University has done a great job in outlining how to read a job ad and its key components. I encourage you to read each part of their series. Part 1 of their “Reading & Using Job Ads” series instructs terms within the ad you should highlight.  Part 2 of the same series further delineates key points within the ad itself. Marking these key points will assist you when you sit down to actually apply, and we’ll go over some of these points when we address resumes.


The next part of the series helps you to understand the terms that are common to many job ads. Part 1 in the “Understanding Job Ads” thread gives a basic, unbiased interpretation of many of the key terms used.  Part 2 is a follow-up on additional terms frequently referenced.


There is a little voice close to your navel known as your gut instinct. If you have the luxury of choosing which job you take as opposed to needing to take any job offered, it’s important to listen to that voice. You know you. You know what you can and cannot tolerate and what you’re able to offer and accept. This next group of articles interprets some of the key terms, this time with a little more insight or bias teaching you how to read between the lines. They come from a variety of subject matter experts, and I encourage you to factor each into your review. If you find something that sends out “Danger, Will Robinson” from that small voice, skip to the next ad. For help in interpreting ads, see the articles from the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, AARP, Loop21, Worktree, and Ehow.


Now that you understand the various parts of a want ad, what the terms mean, and what bias they may portray, it is time to talk about legal and illegal job ads. An employer could make an innocent mistake in posting a job, they could be ignorant of the law, or they could be flagrantly violating it. You want to be sure you understand what terms are acceptable for use in reviewing job ads. If you find an employer that does not create ads that are in keeping with laws designed to protect employees (and employers from lawsuit), you may wish to think twice about applying. It could be the harbinger of more to come. If you come across a job ad that is outside these guidelines you can step back and determine if this ad is for you and worth the time to apply. Employers, this is a great tool to review. These laws were put in place to preclude discrimination in the workplace. Read and bookmark the EEOC’s article “Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices.”


Ok, so we’ve now covered the key components of a want ad, how to interpret them, and what cannot be included according to federal law. Where do we go from here?


The last article in this thread talks about what steps to take if you find a job ad of interest for which you wish to apply.  Read it carefully. You’ll need this information for the next exercise in this series, Resumes and Cover Letters.


So where do we go from here? Take the job ad that interested you I suggested you use for this article. See if you can find the key terms listed. Try to interpret terms used in accordance with info you have just read. Now, set about and find the key terms indicated that need to be addressed in the application process in the order they are listed and number them. This will become critical and explained in the next article in this series. In a separate document, list each of the key components and requirements. Review the ad several times and be sure you have identified them all. Save your document. We will refer to it in the next lesson.


Before we move on, a word of caution. There are 3 critical pieces of information often included in an employment ad. The first is the deadline. You want to be sure you have identified that and adhere to it strictly. Often, applications turned in after the deadline are disqualified. Note the name of the contact person or department, and be sure to determine the gender if discernable. You will use this in your cover letter (we’ll cover those in the Resume topic). Equally important is to see how they wish you to apply and any admonitions about contact. It is highly important that you follow these instructions. If your application is to be mailed electronically, you’ll have more lead time then if they require snail mail. If the application says “no phone calls, please,” for goodness sakes, do not call! You don’t want to blow your chances at what could be the job of your dreams if you show you are not good at following instructions.


Ok, I’ve given you enough to process for today. In a few days, we’ll cover the subject of resumes. You’ll learn that one size does not fit all, and there is a methodology to applying. You’ll learn ways to make it easier on yourself in the long run, and you’ll be able to match up some of the pointers you’ve picked up in this lesson in your resume and cover letter assemblage.


Please leave any questions or comments about this article in the section below, thanks for reading, and happy hunting!!



Lesson 3 – Resumes and Cover Letters


LESSON 1: Where to Search for a Job (Blog)


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