How to: Use job descriptions to land your dream role

Job descriptions come in all shapes and sizes…

A job description is a comprehensive outline of a vacancy, covering its duties, required skills and salary, as well as a company’s culture. In other words, it’s the perfect guide for your application – not something to be skimmed, brushed over, or worse, totally ignored.

To make sure you’re making the most out of the clues they could give you, here’s our guide on how using job descriptions effectively could help land your dream role:


Read the whole thing

Finding a job that’s right for you can be tough, meaning it’s all too easy to jump to conclusions at the first sign of a good match.

But before you submit your application as quickly as possible, it’s vital to get to grips with the role first.

Sure, the job title and salary might be ideal – but do the duties listed in the job description match up? Do you have the required skills? And what about the benefits package?

By taking the time to read the job description thoroughly, you’ll not only be able to figure out if the vacancy and company is right for you, but also if you’re right for them. Then you’ll have all the information you need to demonstrate your suitability with a perfectly tailored CV and cover letter.

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Figure out how you’re a match

OK, so you’ve read the job description at least five times. Now it’s time to figure out if it’s right for you.

Start by highlighting/circling/underlining the key elements of the role; from the most mentioned tasks and duties, to the essential skills needed to carry them out.

Using this, you’ll be able to match your own experience and abilities accurately – avoiding the temptation to add any irrelevant information.

Because claiming you’re the world’s greatest Morris dancer might be your go-to party trick, but it’s unlikely to turn any heads if it has nothing to do with the job (hint: hobbies and interests won’t always be relevant).

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Tailor your approach

Once you’ve made a list of what makes you a great fit, it’s time to consider layout, making the first section of your CV and cover letter exactly what the employer is looking for.

For example, if your education is more relevant than your work experience, opening with that is far more likely to grab the recruiter’s attention. It’s also key to cover your most applicable traits in your personal statement.

But remember: even if the first paragraphs of your CV and cover letter are perfect, the rest of it could still let you down if you don’t pay it any attention.

That’s why it’s important to before adapt them in line with the job description for every single role you apply for – whether this means removing certain aspects of your skills, or placing more of an emphasis on others.

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Give examples

Identifying your relevant skills and experience is good, but it’s not enough.

To demonstrate your suitability (and make your CV stand out from the crowd), it’s vital to include real-life examples that prove you have each of these attributes – whether it’s excellent analytical skills, great attention to detail, or anything else.

How? Simple. You know exactly what skills the employer wants (hint: they’re listed in the job description) – you just need to think of an example that demonstrates them efficiently.

It could be anything from a positive interaction with a customer that resulted in increased sales, to a project that improved user experience. But no matter what you choose, always make sure it resulted in a positive outcome; and always try to quantify it with real figures or percentages.

For example, saying you ‘implemented an add-on sales initiative that increased the average basket spend by 5%’ sounds much better than simply saying you helped increase sales.

That way, the recruiter will be able to see exactly what your experience could bring to their business.

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Check before you send

Once you’ve tailored your CV (and cover letter) in a way that demonstrates your most relevant skills effectively, it’s time to get a second opinion.

It could be a friend, colleague, family member or mentor. But whoever you choose, a fresh pair of eyes is often exactly what you need to ensure your application is as focused as it can be.

If they can’t work out why you’re applying for the job (and what makes you suited), it might indicate that it needs a bit more work. This is also a great way to spot any spelling or grammar mistakes that you may have missed.

Lastly, check it over yourself to ensure your CV and cover letter matches up with exactly what they’ve stated in the job description.

Remember: it might take a little longer, but tailoring your CV shows passion, dedication, and a real interest in the role – which are often the exact attributes an employer is looking for.

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