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Deconstructing job postings

There are many types of job postings. Some are minimal and include a list of requirements, while others are detailed and include a complete job description. The best way to understand a job posting is to take 5 minutes to deconstruct it. 

In addition to the following steps, take a look at this resource on using job postings to identify inclusive employers.

Step 1

Save the job posting and the job description if possible, or copy and paste it into a text file.

Step 2

Write out 2 lists based on the job posting:

  1. Required qualifications for the job.
  2. Skills and abilities.

Examples of required qualifications

  • educational requirements like second-year standing, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a diploma
  • experience like 1 year of customer service experience, experience with AutoCAD or being familiar with a lab environment
  • licenses or courses like a Class 5 driver’s license or training in presentation delivery

Tip: employers often list the most important qualifications higher in the posting.

Examples of skills and abilities

  • demonstrated communication skills
  • ability to work with minimal supervision
  • problem-solving capabilities

Skills and abilities can also be competencies, but we use skills and abilities here since this is the language that employers tend to include in job postings.

Step 3

Consider your background and under each list, write down how you meet the criteria in the job description. Highlight these matches as you develop your résumé and your cover letter.

For positions with extensive lists of qualifications or skills, you won’t be able to address every aspect, but you can identify categories and list the most important areas.

If you don’t have experience in every area, don’t worry. Showcase your competencies and demonstrate that you’ve thought about how you are a good fit for the position.

Build your résumé

As you put together a draft résumé, create a worksheet to identify what should go into it. Then review your draft résumé with a Co-op and Career staff member.

Your worksheet should include:

  • job title
  • employer organization
  • type of job
    • co-op, part-time, volunteer, etc.
  • list of the required qualifications for the job
  • list of your qualifications that match those in the job posting
  • list of the required skills for the job
  • list of your skills that match the skills in the job posting

Not sure how to describe your skills and accomplishments? Check out the using competencies page.

For more on how to build your résumé, visit the steps to building a résumé or CV page.