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).

When you’re applying for jobs online, you’ll likely visit a range of job posting sites. Don’t assume that a job posting is legitimate just because it’s online. Make sure to be vigilant when reviewing postings to avoid potential scams. Here are a few tips to keep in mind (you can also download a PDF version).

Research the company in advance by visiting the website:

  • Does the company description seem ambiguous or vague?
  • Can you find evidence that people actually work there?
  • Is the name of the hiring manager listed with the job posting?
  • Can you find the name of the leader of the department that you’ll be working in?
  • Does the company (and employees) exist on LinkedIn?

Watch out for:

  • Companies who ask for your personal information during the interview stage, especially your Social Insurance Number (SIN), banking or credit card information (do not provide this information)
  • Companies who send you money up front and ask you to cash cheques and wire money back to them
  • Companies who aren’t willing to answer questions about the organization or provide more details about the job itself
  • Opportunities that seem to good to be true (they probably are)

How to report a scam

If you suspect that a posting on is a scam, contact UVic does not verify employers or individual job postings.
For more information or to report a scam, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.