Finding your dream job isn’t easy. To engage recruiters and companies, you should think about your approach and stay focused. If people are attracted to your profile, they will be much more likely to want to speak to you – and that will increase your job search chances. But as we will see, we need to understand the job description thoroughly to do so in an effective way. There are also other reasons why this is so important, even though most candidates just gloss over it briefly...
For some, the job description is just an HR document. It's something someone wrote with some vague details about the job and some impossible to achieve requirements. After all, isn't that how corporations operate?
I disagree! Sure, HR probably wrote the job description, but that doesn't mean it's not an incredibly useful tool as a job seeker. In fact, understanding it well is key to landing your dream job. This post will go into some detail to explain why, which will hopefully help you in your search!
Standing out by understanding the job description
If you really understand what a company is looking for, you will stand out. You'll know what pain they're trying to get solved by hiring for this role, and you'll know what the company needs. That allows you to be the pain killer, to be the star that can sweep in and save the day. And that's what the HR department is looking for. There are many ways you can apply this principle and use this document for your advantage. Here are 10 reasons that you can use while applying for jobs.
1. You know if the job is right for YOU
Sometimes we forget that job searching is a 2-way street. When we are faced with 100s of rejections, we may start to think that you'll just take any job as long as it remotely matches your desires. Sometimes this makes sense, but I often see my students not taking the time to really understand the job description. They then don't really know what they're signing up for. It can be a huge waste of time for you and the company.
One person I was working with went through making a customized application, doing tests for the company, speaking with 6 of the company's representatives, before realizing that he didn't want this job at all. If he had taken a few more minutes to study the job description carefully, he would've saved himself all this effort.
Instead, focus on what makes you extraordinary. You can then find jobs that match those traits so that you will be better at your future career and have more fulfilment while doing so.
2. You learn whether you have a chance
Many of my students apply to so many jobs before they come to me. Tens, or even hundreds of carefully crafted applications. Many of these are a complete waste of time, because they don't stand a chance. That's why it's much better to carefully understand the job description so that you know if you can possibly be invited for a job interview. And sure, if you are in doubt, you can still apply for it. Often, however, it's very clear that you are just not a good fit for what the company needs.
Take one of my students, for instance. He had a strong profile in implementation and hands-on management. Yet he kept applying for strategic jobs. Those job descriptions were looking for people in consulting and strategy teams with multiple years of experience. Something he just didn't have. In that case, it'd be better to first get in a company through a more hands-on role and then transition to strategy over time.
This is why it's so important to go for quality over quantity. It saves you time, frustration, energy, and makes your job search much more effective.
3. You find out what company's are looking for
A job description tells you what companies are looking for. In multiple ways. For instance, by carefully studying it, you know:
What capabilities a company is looking for?
What kind of person a company wants to hire?
What their team is like and who would likely fit in?
What experiences in which areas would be a great fit for this company?
Which of your previous experiences match this and which don't really?
This information is crucial for your further application. You can use it in all kinds of ways. In preparing for your first submission. In making sure you make the right impression in the initial phone screening. And of course to really succeed in your job interview.
This can prevent you from getting angry with the process and blaming others. Instead, you want to focus on what you can do to improve and make your success rate higher.
4. You understand what language they use
Language is a funny thing. Different companies use wildly different language to describe similar processes, products, and functions. You want to show that you understand which language they prefer and use.
One of my coachees recently heard as feedback: "from day 1, we knew you would fit right in. You spoke our language from the start...". This was in large part due to his preparation in understanding the company and the job description he was applying for. Using the terminology and showing mastery of the corporate culture was a sign that he was an outstanding candidate for the HR person interviewing him.
In fact, if you do this extremely well, it can drastically speed up the time it takes to find your dream job.
There are many examples of such differences in language use. For instance, some companies call a particular function a "sales" position. Another may call it "account management", and yet another may call it a "consulting" position. Even though all three might do very similar tasks on a day-to-day basis. Keep this in mind when studying job descriptions.
5. You can use it to beat automated HR systems
Many corporate companies use so-called "ATS systems" nowadays, or Applicant Tracking Systems. These tools pre-scan candidates to make sure the fit with the job description is at the very least acceptable. So make sure you use this to your advantage!
You can do this by:
Matching keywords from the job description to keywords in your CV
Making sure important words are repeated in your cover letter
Make sure that your formatting is simple enough for computer systems to understand, unless you are applying in an incredibly creative field
Did you know my e-book has more tips on how to beat these ATS systems? If you didn't check it out yet, you can find my e-book "5 steps to help you land your dream job in the Netherlands" here. By the way, it's completely free.
Conclusion: everything starts with the job description
Today, we've covered 5 reasons why it's so important to thoroughly understand the job descriptions that you are applying to. It helps you to:
Understand if the job is a right fit for you
Save time & frustration by knowing if you have a chance
Find out what companies are looking for
Grasp what language they use & what the culture is like
Beat company's ATS systems
As always, I hope this helps you in your job search! Don't hesitate to reach out if you need more help. If you're really stuck, you can also schedule a free career consultation with me digitally.