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3 Things to Look for in a Job Description

reviewing a job description

Often, the first step people take when conducting a job search is to evaluate available job openings. They go to Indeed, LinkedIn or another job posting website and explore what positions are available. Ultimately job seekers are trying to determine which roles to apply for.

Some will apply for dozens, or even 100+, roles and be frustrated when they don't hear back. Others will not apply for anything because they worry they don't have the skills needed for any of the roles. At Revision Resume, we suggest you find middle ground. Start out by identifying ~5 positions that you are interested in and well-suited for. How do you determine which ones would be a good match? Consider these 3 things to look for in a job description:

  1. Key Responsibilities

  2. Required Qualifications

  3. Preferred Qualifications

Key Responsibilities

Key Responsibilities tell you what the job will entail. They give a window into what the day-to-day role will actually be. When you evaluate this section of the job description, you are trying to determine if this is a job you are interested in obtaining. Look at it with two main considerations in mind:

  1. Do I have the skill and qualifications that would make me successful in this role?

  2. Is this a position I would like to obtain?

Consider if this is a job you would enjoy. Would it challenge you -- and therefore stay interesting -- day after day? When you think back on past positions, does this one incorporate the aspects of your job that you liked, or the aspects that you didn't actually like? You want a position that will be something you generally look forward to doing day-to-day.

Required Qualifications

Now that you have identified a role that is of interest to you, evaluate if you are qualified for the position. Look closely at the wording of the job description. Does it list certain skills or education level that are required? Applying for roles in which you don't meet any of the required qualifications makes it unlikely that you will get called in for an interview. For example, if they require a bachelor's degree and you have an associate's degree, you are not likely to be pursued, especially if 100 other people with a bachelor's degree apply for the position.

However, we do advise you to look closely at the wording. It might say that they require a bachelor's degree OR "equivalent experience." This means that they don't actually need you to have obtained the degree if you have a few years of work experience.

Here is a specific example:

  • Degree in technical discipline or equivalent experience

  • Preference for BS degree in engineering discipline

What this job posting says is they really desire someone with a bachelor's degree, but they aren't ruling out candidates who may not have that level of education but do have work experience in the field.

It is worthwhile to closely read the job description and try to determine which skills they are really requiring and which ones they desire but don't require.

Preferred Qualifications

Job descriptions often also have a list of preferred qualifications. These are items they would love a candidate to have, but don't require. You can identify the preferred qualifications by looking for words like "desired," "or equivalent," "preferred," or "requested."

When you read the list of qualifications, you may find it overwhelming. Be sure to look closely to determine which skills are required and which are preferred. Keep in mind that it is unlikely anyone will meet all of the criteria they are listing. The job description is written to describe the ideal candidate, but an ideal candidate may not actually exist in real life.

Revision Resume suggests verifying you meet at least 50% of the criteria before applying for a job, but keep in mind that you do not need to meet 100% of the criteria!

Before you make your final decision to apply, see if any information about salary or benefits are listed on the posting. You don't want to apply for a position that won't meet your needs, so evaluate these items to ensure the role you are seeking would be something you are willing to accept.

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What’s Next?  With the Right Resume, the Sky’s the Limit!

The challenge for most job applicants is crafting the right resume. 

Revision Resume is here to help offering the following writing services:

Resume critiques are also offered to those who have already created their own resume but would like a second set of eyes to check for errors and to ensure the document is up to modern standards!

With up-to-the-minute knowledge of the hiring industry, Revision Resume can make sure you are submitting the right resume!

In addition to our blog that is packed with useful information and tips, Revision Resume also offers a monthly newsletter and group educational programs. 

Finally, for the "do-it-yourselfer," we offer a checklist package that helps you ensure you haven't missed any vital details. 


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