Deconstructing job postings

So you've discovered an appealing job posting—great! Now, understanding exactly what an employer is looking for will help your application stand out. Cutomizing your application to the specific requirements listed shows that you've given some thought to the job posting and why you're a good fit for the position.

The best way to start customizing your application is to take five minutes and deconstruct the posting.

Step 1: Print the job posting and description

You can also copy and paste them into a Word document saved on your desktop. The idea is to keep them in a convenient, separate place.

Step 2: Identify the requirements listed

Identify the required qualifications, skills and abilities listed in the posting or job description. You might find it helpful to use a highlighter to mark these in different colours.

Required qualifications could include:

  • Specific educational requirements (e.g. second year standing, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, specific diploma)
  • Specific experience (e.g. one year of customer service experience, experience with AutoCAD, familiar with a lab environment)
  • Specific licenses, courses or certifications (e.g. Class 5 Driver’s License, training in presentation delivery)

(Employers often list the most important qualifications higher in the posting!)

Required skills and abilities (competencies) could include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision
  • Efficient at problem-solving and troubleshooting

Step 3: Identify how you match the criteria

Now, consider your background, skills and experience and write down how you meet each of the criteria.

For positions with long lists of qualifications or skills, identify categories and match your skills to that broader category. Don't worry if you don’t have experience in every area, but aim to meet a minimum of 75% of the requirements.

Later, you can highlight these matches when you write your résumé and cover letter.

ACTIVITY: Using the above instructions, deconstruct a job posting you're interested in on the Deconstruct a job posting worksheet (you can also download the How to deconstruct a job posting tip sheet to take this info to go).