Confused by a job advert, or not sure exactly what employers are asking for? Use our guide to crack the code, and make a cracking application...
- Job title: what the job is actually called e.g junior salesperson.
- Location: where the job is based.
- Hours: whether the job is full-time or part-time. Some might tell you exactly how many hours a week you will be expected to work – such as 37 or 40 hours for full-time. It will also tell you if the job involves working evening and weekend shifts (sometimes called anti-social hours).
- Contract: whether the job is permanent or temporary (sometimes called fixed term) contract e.g six months.
- Salary: how much the job pays. If the job is full-time you might be given a straight figure e.g £20,000 per year (sometimes called pa or per annum). However, a similar salary might be offered at between £17,000 and £20,000 or up to £20,000 DOE (dependent on experience), which means candidates with more experience will be offered more money. You might also see terms like £20,000 + overtime, which means you’ll be paid more for working more than your set hours. If it’s a part-time job you might be told your pay per hour or per week. In other cases the salary might be advertised pro rata. This means a proportion of a full-time salary will be paid according to how many hours you work. So, if you work 20 hours a week for £20,000 pro rata, you will be paid £10,000 a year.
- Duties: what the job actually involves. This might be things like ‘liaising with customers’, ‘compiling reports for management’ or ‘stock taking and ordering.’
- Experience: whether you need any previous experience in a similar job. Depending on the position, no experience may be required. In other cases, the employer might say that previous experience is essential or specify a set amount e.g ‘with a minimum of two years’ experience.’
- Essential qualities: the skills you must have for the job. These might include things like ‘good communication skills’, ‘ability to manage workload’ and ‘excellent IT abilities’. Some job adverts might also list ‘preferred' or 'desirable' qualities, which are skills that aren’t essential, but could help you get the job.
However, if it’s a job you reasonably think you could do, don’t necessarily be put off applying if you don’t think you fit everything on the person specification. Although this describes the employer’s ‘ideal’ candidate, you might well have picked up some of the skills like ‘communication’ and ‘teamworking’ at school or at home – see our articles What are my skills? and Going extra curricular for some inspiration.
Also, while employers may ask for previous experience, this doesn’t always have to be in a similar job. If you’ve worked somewhere else or done some volunteering before, think about the general skills you picked up there that could be useful here. Showing that you can use these transferable skills flexibly and presenting them to the employer in your application is an important skill in itself!
The job advert will also include a deadline, details of who to send your application to and sometimes a reference number. Make sure you know all of these before you send it off so it doesn’t get there late or end up getting lost. You might have spent ages looking for a job, but employers aren’t going to spend a second looking for your job application if you don’t follow their instructions.