Reading Job Descriptions 101


Reading Job Descriptions 101

A short guide to reading job descriptions accurately.

We all know that job description is an essential part of the process of job applications. A job description is a document that consists of all the important details about the duties and responsibilities of the job role. Moreover, job descriptions highlight the mandatory skill sets, technical expertise, and prior experience that are required for the job role. Additionally, applicants can find information about the company such as the vision and mission of the company, the culture of the company, and benefits that will be offered to employees. These documents are generally constructed or overlooked by the specific individuals who are involved in the selection process for the role in collaboration with the human resource department of the company.

The purpose of a Job Description

The main purpose of job descriptions is to convey important information about the listed job to all applicants. From the perspective of the employer, accurate and detailed job descriptions ensure that the received job applications are complying with the key requirements of the posted job role. Secondly, the required level of expertise for the job role and various other expectations of the employer are emphasized using the job description. This will help the applicants to properly do a self-assessment to figure out if they will be suitable for the job. Likewise, the details mentioned in the job description will help candidates to do additional research when getting ready for interviews.

Key contents of a general Job Description

Job descriptions may vary from employer to employer. However, they all consist of a few significant characteristics or elements. Listed below are the sections that can be found on job descriptions quite often.

Company name and position title.

The company name and the job title will be the two major sections that will be visible at the first glance. A candidate can identify if the posted job matches their current career level, domain, and interest. Similarly, the company name helps do the pre-application research that is required to be done by applicants.

Company description.

The company description emphasizes the employer’s core values, the company growth, a brief introduction about the working environment and the company culture. By referring to this section, the applicants can briefly get to know about their potential employer and how they can add value by joining the company.

Employment type.

Under this section, it will be mentioned whether the posted job is a full-time employment opportunity, part-time opportunity, or if it is a freelancing engagement by describing the nature of employment.

Job location.

The location details will confirm whether the posted job role requires to be on-site at all times, complies with working from home, or adheres to a hybrid engagement. Since remote work is a popular trend nowadays, applicants need to inspect this section thoroughly before applying.

Job overview.

This is a summarized version of the full responsibility and duty list required by the job. By going through the job overview, candidates can get a holistic idea of the role and what kind of expertise or experience is required to qualify for the job.

Job responsibilities.

In this particular section, all the detailed information about the job role will be given in bulleted lists. Covering all the responsibilities and duties required for the job, this section will highlight the entire work routine of the role on tasks that need to be delivered within set timelines. This information will be useful for the candidates that are interested in applying for the job as it emphasizes the commitment that is expected from the potential employees.

Required qualification and experience.

All the academic and professional qualifications that are mandatory for the job role will be listed here. Moreover, this section will provide details on the experience, technical skills, certifications, tests confirming physical fitness, security clearance, or background check requirements that are necessary for the applicants to complete. The applicants have the chance to minimize the possibilities of their applications getting rejected by carefully going through this section to make their applications comply with all the required qualifications and experiences.

Additional qualifications.

Qualifications that the employer has asked for here are not mandatory for the role, but candidates that possess qualifications listed here might have a competitive advantage over the rest of the applicants. Recruiters tend to do their selections based on these qualifications at instances where they have to select a person out of a group of equally qualified and skilled applicants.

Application instructions.

Generally, the application instructions would be listed at the end of the job description where it denotes an email address if online submissions are accepted or else, the location address details that the application should be posted or handed over. Applicants should carefully look at the deadlines of application submission as job descriptions usually have an application acceptance cutoff date.

Making effective use of Job Descriptions

The first and the most significant use of a job description would be in making the final decision whether you are going to apply for the job. This requires reading the job description thoroughly a couple of times and highlighting important areas such as required qualifications, experience, duties, and potential drawbacks you come across in the job description. Once you have considered each point that is highlighted and compared with your personal non-negotiables, you can arrive at the final decision. Secondly, the application you are going to submit should be tailor-made for the job description, this includes your resume and cover letter. Reflect on the list of qualifications, experiences, and specific skills that are listed in the job description.


Sometimes job descriptions are incapable of giving a detailed idea about how the job role is going to work out practically. Therefore, it is recommended to list down a couple of questions about the role to be asked at the interview when you are offered the chance. Likewise, it would be ideal to have the job description along with you when attending the interview.



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