In my consultancy work I have noticed something astonishing about the way people understand job advertisements.

Rubbish code crackers
I help jobseekers to transform their CV and cover letter to best represent their capabilities, and then I prepare them for tough interview questions, and it’s my opinion that most graduates and jobseekers cannot really decipher a job ad.

At the beginning of the process, I always like to think my clients just need extra training. However, once we have had our consultation, it becomes obvious that most of them are not able to decipher what the job ad is really looking for.

Be the man who can
This confusion is not entirely due to the jobseekers though. Especially for entry level positions, companies disguise mundane tasks by making it sound as if there will be lots of responsibility, sometimes suggesting the applicant will have to lift the whole world on their shoulders. This can sound daunting if you’re a graduate!

One way to figure out what skills you need to demonstrate is to call the company and ask about the position’s tasks, about what kind of a team you’re be working in, and what your role in the value-making chain will be.

Of course, sometimes there is no contact person, or maybe you’re too shy to pick up the phone (please contact me, I can provide training for that!). In those cases I recommend you research other positions with the same titles. Use the internet to create a whole profile of the position if it helps.

Unfortunately, companies sometimes just need a ‘dogsbody’ whose role they will further modify and fit into their team, so the description of the responsibilities is at best vague and ultimately confusing. In those situations, focus on your key skills and how they can be applied. Above everything, demonstrate you can.

Very often the applicant replicates the commercial jargon from the ad, but ignores the skills the company was looking for. Not only would they regularly fail to match the skills listed on their CV to the ones in the ad, they would completely miss any ‘between the lines’ requirements or personality traits that they need to give examples of.

Ivanka (Vanya) Ruskova is a senior business analyst with experience in IT, investment banking and the service industries. She currently works with graduates entering the job market in Denmark, offering extensive CV and application assistance, personal coaching and counselling.

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