When you're tailoring your resume for a specific job, how much attention do you pay to the role's description found in the job posting? 

Sure, you almost certainly read that job description – but do you ever take the time to really analyze it? 

If not, then you're one of the many job seekers who can undoubtedly benefit from learning how to conduct a thorough job description analysis to help you create a more targeted resume.

In this guide, we will define the job description and explain why job description analysis is so important. We'll also examine some of the most important things to look for when performing your analysis of a job description and provide a step-by-step guide to help you conduct that examination.

What is a job description?

For many applicants, interest in the job description extends no further than checking to see whether they possess the listed qualifications. Unfortunately, that limited job description analysis is often a missed opportunity since most job descriptions contain a wealth of information that job seekers can use to their own advantage – if they know what they're looking for.

At first glance, a job description appears to be nothing more than a way for employers to establish a baseline for the role's qualification requirements. That's because every great job description includes details about the position's responsibilities, as well as required skills, experience, and education. That information helps limit the number of applicants to those who possess at least the minimum requirements listed in the posting.

However, the job description is also a valuable tool for job seekers

By including critical details about the position, the employer enables job seekers to better assess their own suitability for the role. As you analyze the information contained in the job advertisement, you see whether your skills, experiences, work style, and career goals align with the open position. Just as important, you can use information from that job description to more effectively tailor your resume to ensure it targets the position properly.

Related reading: Seven Key Resume Sections and How to Organize Them

Why is it important to conduct a job description analysis?

There are several advantages to conducting a thorough job description analysis when you're interested in pursuing a specific job opportunity, including:

  • Learning everything you can about how well your qualifications align with the job's requirements

  • Understanding exactly what employers are seeking in any new hire

  • Determining whether there's a good chance the position meets your career needs

  • Gaining insight into the application and hiring process

  • Identifying vital keywords and phrases you'll need to include in your resume

  • Developing a better understanding of the company's culture and values

It's also important to note that this job description analysis can benefit you in every stage of the job search process. It is a vital tool for deciding whether you want to apply for the role but is also critical for ensuring you tailor your resume to fit the job. 

Moreover, by studying the description, you can also gain insight that can benefit you when you prepare for any potential interview.

What should you be looking for during your job description analysis?

Before you settle into a job description analysis, it's helpful to understand the types of details you may encounter. Below, we've outlined some of the different types of information that employers often include in a typical job posting and role description. Keep in mind, though, there is no established order in which these details might appear.

  • Job title. This is often a key detail when you're trying to advance your career. Make sure the job title aligns with your current goals.

  • Company name. Obviously, you'll need to take note of the company name to ensure you're researching the right firm as you work to tailor your resume.

  • Mission statement, values. Company job descriptions may include key details about the firm's organizational structure, business vision, mission, and values. These can all provide clues about the company's culture – clues that can help you determine whether you're a good cultural fit for the position and work environment.

  • Type of employment. Also, look for details that explain whether the job is full-time, part-time, or on a contracted basis. That can help you avoid applying to a company that doesn't meet your career needs.

  • Location details. With the rise of the remote and hybrid workplace model, job descriptions may now include information about where you'll be expected to perform your duties.

  • Summary of role. Typically, a job description will begin with a bird's eye view of the open position, including a broad overview of the role and its duties and responsibilities.

  • Detailed duties. These are often listed below the job summary and may be included in bullet point form – providing a more detailed description of the specific duties and tasks the new hire will be expected to manage.

  • Educational requirements. These details will describe the expected level of education needed for the job.

  • Experience needed. Many job listings also include some mention of the candidate's expected level of experience.

  • Physical requirements, if any. Some jobs will list physical requirements like the amount of time you'll need to spend at a desk or standing.

  • Core skills. Pay close attention to any listed skill requirements since almost all of them could be keywords you'll need for your resume. They may include core technical skills, other hard skills, or soft interpersonal abilities.

  • Additional optional skills. Sometimes, a job posting may include additional skills that are described as optional or nice-to-have abilities.

  • Resume or application submission details. If the job description includes instructions for applying for the role, follow them to the letter.

Related reading: What Are Skills? (With Examples and Tips on How to Improve Them)

Decoding the job analysis process, step-by-step

As promised, we've compiled some simple steps you can use to decode any job description. By following this job description analysis process, you can gain invaluable insight into any employment opportunity. As you do so, you'll also gather vital information you can use to create a targeted resume that will increase your odds of landing an interview.

Related reading: How to Write a Targeted Resume That Lands You an Interview

Always start by reading the job description once or twice for context. That will enable you to decide whether you're even interested in the position. If so, then you're ready to start your analysis.

1.      Analyze the role and job title

When you begin to break down and analyze the job description, it's always important to look at the job title and role description. 

  • Make sure the duties described in the posting align with the designated job title

  • Take note of any inconsistencies that might be red flags

For example, if the job title indicates a lower or even entry-level position – but the duties indicate that you'd be performing leadership or management responsibilities, then that could be a red flag.

When the title and duties align, however, you can use that information to determine whether the job matches your current career goals. Consider whether the role and its duties will provide opportunities for additional skill development that can further those goals and your overall career advancement.

Related reading: How to Advance Your Career (plus 10 Insightful Tips)

2.      Identify the core requirements for the position

Once you've gotten past that initial assessment of the role, it's time to do a deep dive into the required skills, experience, and educational qualifications. 

  • Do you have the hard technical skills and soft interpersonal abilities you'd need to perform those duties? 

  • Do you have transferable skills that might compensate for any other skill deficiencies? 

  • Try to make sure that you do more than meet the minimum requirements the employer is expecting to see.

Note that you may not need to meet the exact requirements when it comes to experience and education. For example, if the job posting requires five years of experience and you've only been doing that type of work for four years, there's a good chance that the one-year difference in experience won't matter if you're otherwise qualified. 

Likewise, you may not need to meet the exact educational requirements if your education is somewhat comparable to the employer's expectations.

It's also a good idea to think about whether you're prepared to perform those duties daily for several years. Even if you have the right skills, it won't mean much if you're not at least somewhat enthusiastic about using those talents for the foreseeable future. 

If the role doesn't excite you, then set that job description aside and continue your search for other opportunities.

3.      Create a list of relevant keywords

Earlier, we mentioned that a good job description analysis can provide you invaluable insight into the keywords you'll need to use in your resume. It's crucial that you include some of those key terms and phrases in your resume if you want to get past the applicant tracking systems that most employers are now using to screen candidate submissions.

Keywords include all the specific words used to describe the job's qualifications. They may include the role's duties, educational requirements, necessary experience, and core job skills. 

For example, if you're analyzing a Marketing Manager job description, you might find some variation of the following:

  • Seeking an experienced marketing manager with expertise in the development and execution of marketing campaigns, team building and management, and long-term strategic planning.
  • Brand enhancement and market expansion experience preferred.
  • Must be proficient in digital marketing campaign design and implementation, with excellent market trend analysis skills and knowledge of marketing best practices.
  • Ability to collaborate with web teams and other departments to facilitate holistic approaches to driving successful outcomes required.

As you analyze that small part of the job description, you should be able to identify several possible keywords that you'll want to include in your resume summary, skills section, and work experience achievement bullet points. 

For example:

  • Brand enhancement

  • Market expansion expertise

  • Team building and management

  • Strategic planning

  • Digital marketing campaign design

  • Market trend analysis

  • Marketing best practices

  • Collaboration

Each of those keywords, taken from the job description, describes distinct skills the employer is looking for in their Marketing Manager candidate. By including those exact terms within the body of your resume, you can satisfy any ATS screening process and boost your chances of making a positive impression on your reader.

Related reading: Make the Perfect First Impression with Your Resume

4.      Assess the job expectations

The job description may also provide important clues about the employer's expectations. What outcomes does the company expect to see from the person they hire? 

Hiring managers may be on the lookout for resume details that discuss your ability to achieve those types of results. Try to identify those expectations and address them by including bullet point achievements that show how you've accomplished similar outcomes for previous employers.

To reinforce that message, make sure each of those bullet point achievements includes real numbers that help quantify the type of value you provided. Use those numbers to demonstrate how your results have increased revenue, lowered inefficiency, expanded the customer base, improved customer retention, or otherwise added real value to the company.

Related reading: 47 Accomplishment Examples for Your Resume: Expert Picks

5.      Look for details about compensation

Employers won't always include information about compensation, but it's important to take note of salary and benefits when they are mentioned. You can use that information to determine whether the total compensation meets your needs and then decide whether the job is something that you want to pursue.

6.      Take note of the company's mission and culture

Another important area of concern involves the company's values and culture. Obviously, you want to work for an organization that shares your goals and values – especially when you consider that you'll be spending forty or more hours a week in that workplace. 

Sometimes, you can gain insight into the company's culture from a job description analysis. Other times, you may need to visit the company website, its social media sites, and online reviews.

Boost your resume success with effective job description analysis

There are few things that matter more than properly tailoring your resume to fit the job you're seeking. By learning how to conduct a detailed job description analysis, you can create a more targeted and compelling resume that speaks to each employer's needs – increasing your odds of making the right impression on hiring managers and earning the interview you need to land the job.

Is your job description analysis falling flat and preventing you from creating the powerful resume you need to advance your career? Get a free resume review from our team of experts today!

Recommended Reading:

Related Articles: