How To Decode A Job Posting

Jerome Young,

During your job search you will review hundreds of job postings. Some will be very well written and provide quality information, while others will tell you little about the employer’s needs. The majority of them have a similar format and characteristics, and they provide insight into what the employer wants–if you know what to look for.

As the founder of, I have conducted extensive research on the job market and the recruiting process employers use to find and choose candidates to fill open requisitions. In the process I’ve learned a lot about what you can divine from a simple job posting.

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Postings can be written by a hiring manager or a recruiter, but it’s usually the recruiter who receives and screens the applications. With this in mind you should be sure that your r?sum? will make a recruiter feel confident that you are qualified. By making the most of the insight you can glean from the following three sections of a typical job posting, you can better position yourself to impress recruiters and get interviews:

The job title: Every job posting includes a job title. It is often what first piques your interest in the posting, and it’s the first thing the hiring manager thought of when he or she decided to create the position. Most job seekers overlook the intelligence the job title provides and suffer for it. The job title gives you the most likely keywords that will be used to find qualified candidates for the job, and because of that you can use it to your advantage.

At we use the job title as our guide in creating effective customized r?sum?s by ensuring that each candidate’s summary statement and areas of expertise are in line with the job title. We ensure that the words in the job title appear prominently throughout the r?sum?, so that our clients will appear at the top of candidate searches. As a result, more than 95% of our candidates succeed in getting job interviews at their companies of interest.

Responsibilities: The responsibilities section describes what will be expected of the employee in the position. You’ll often find that there are five to 10 bullet points in this section, but in our research with recruiters and hiring managers we’ve found that the first three responsibilities are the most important. Job postings are usually based on a primary business need to which additional responsibilities are added to create a full-time position. Your r?sum? should focus on your experience, results and accomplishments in the tasks outlined in the first three bullets in the responsibilities section. Also you’ll find keywords in those first three bullets that recruiters will use in searching for qualified candidates.

Qualifications: The qualifications section provides insight into the experience, skills and education the hiring manager has in mind for the person they feel will be capable of excelling in the role. As in the responsibilities section, the first three qualifications are usually the most important. If you meet those top three qualifications, you should directly say so in the summary section at the top of your r?sum?, to instantly inform the hirer that you’re qualified and to persuade them to read the rest of your r?sum?. If you don’t meet the top three qualifications but have others strengths that qualify you to excel, definitely mention them in your summary section.

Taking the time to analyze job postings and customize your r?sum? based on their job titles, responsibilities and qualifications is often the difference between receiving interviews and being screened out of the recruiting process.

Jerome Young is the founder and president of, a job search and recruiting consulting firm.

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