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WORK EXPERIENCE: Marianne Heggelund says that you don’t necessarily need to have worked with all of the tasks listed in a job posting. Photo: Mikkel Moe

Råd og tips

– You can apply even if you don’t meet all of the job requirements

Written by Sondre Tallaksrud Sept. 20 2021

How should you analyze a job posting?

When employers are looking for new people, they often make use of job postings. Have you ever tried systematically answering this type of ad?

What’s the job title, and what’s at the core of this type of job? These are the two most important questions that you have to answer.

Making a thorough analysis before starting to write your application can make the difference between getting an interview or not. You’ll find a detailed description of how you should do this below.

– Don’t need to meet every requirement

Head of Tekna’s competency department, Marianne Heggelund, states that the first and most important thing you should look at are the work tasks. 

– This is without a doubt the most important part of the job posting, and as a rule the most important tasks are listed first. This is what you should focus on before doing any further work analyzing the ad. There are a lot of new graduates who think «Oh no, I haven’t worked with such and such tasks before, so of course I can’t apply for this job».

– But if you have a relevant educational background, this indicates that you should be able to work with these tasks, so it’s important that you dare to think that as long as you have relevant theoretical knowledge, you actually have the ability to first familiarize yourself with and then learn the different tasks the employer needs to cover, she says.

In other words, when writing your application, you can list these tasks one by one, describing those you’ve actually worked with and those you know about in theory.

– Some job postings are long and include several technical terms, while others are quite short and concise – how do you deal with these different styles?

– No matter what the job ad looks like, you have to deal with it in the same way. You always have to familiarize yourself with what the job’s really about, what kind of organization it is, how many people you’ll be working with, how complex it is. So even if someone’s written a really short ad, you always have to think about these questions.

– When there are a lot of requirements in a job posting, does this mean that the place is used to getting a lot of applicants and so can make more requirements than usual?

– No, I don’t think so. It’s more about who’s writing the ad and the organizational culture.

– If the ad is very long and complex, you can imagine that the individual who’s written it is very detail oriented. This might tell you a little bit about this workplace’s culture. This might also mean that you’ll have to answer this ad in more detail; but no matter what, you need to analyze the ad first, she says.

Beyond work tasks she thinks it’s important to look at what the job entails with respect to personal qualities.

– If they write that you should be structured and detail oriented in order to take on this role, and you’re not, this should be a warning bell for you. It’s not enough that you might want to be this kind of person – this is who you really need to be to perform well in this position.

– I think there are a lot of people who – for better or worse – are dishonest about their personal qualities.

– I think there are a lot of people who – for better or worse – are dishonest about their personal qualities, she maintains. 

What are some common mistakes people make when writing job applications?

– A lot of people are bad at answering the actual ad because they don’t focus on it enough because they’re more concerned with writing about what they’ve done before. But it’s important to write how you want to perform this specific job and what your role in the organization can be, she says.

– Dare to call without having any questions

She thinks it’s always important to call about an ad, and you don’t have to ask about anything.

– You should always call and show interest. Say you’ve applied for a job, are very interested in it and hope you’ve managed to talk about your skills adequately. A lot of people call and try to think of a question, but if this question is something you could’ve found out on your own and the employer sees this, it can reflect badly on you.

– Instead, be honest and humble, saying that you’re calling to say that you’re interested in the position and you hope that this conversation will help you get noticed and be called in for an interview. I absolutely think that most employers would appreciate getting this type of phone call, she claims.

This is how you analyze a job posting:

Read through the ad and try to answer these questions:   

  1. What is the need they want to be covered, what is the job’s main goal?
  2.   
  3. Do you understand how the job should be performed? Do you have enough information about the job from reading the job posting?
  4. What kind of skills are they looking for now and in the future, and what kind of profile do they want?   
  5. Do you have the competency, experience, skills and personal qualities to meet the position’s requirements?  
  6. Are there any needs that appear more than once? Are any key words emphasized?  

A job posting is often comprised of the following:

  • Title

The title may emphasize certain words/needs that you can also use to show that you understand them.

  • A bit of information about the organization and type of position

This information can help you decide if you and this workplace are a good match. Who are they, what do they stand for? Do you want to work there? When you’re able to answer these questions, it’s important that you include your answers in your application.

  • Description of areas of responsibility and work tasks
  • Preferred qualifications

Look at what the employer is asking for. Make an outline of your qualities, experiences and knowledge that you can use when writing your application. 

  • Preferred personal qualities

Is there a certain profile of the ideal job candidate?   

  • Workplace benefits
  • Contact information, application deadline, etc.

In a jumble of job postings, it’s important that these ads reflect the job’s reality and that you read them critically. There are many employers who use empty phrases, buzzwords and big words to sell themselves to you, the job candidate. Try to find out what is concrete and look for points that are emphasized or repeated in the text.

Points to look out for:

  • How much responsibility will you have? What will you be responsible for?
  • Is it a social job with a lot of interaction with people, or one where you’ll work independently and have occasional meetings with other people.   
  • Will you collaborate with other people or do everything alone?
  • Are several positions being advertised in the same job category?

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