How to evaluate a job description for goodness of match

Conducting an effective job search involves sorting through many job descriptions written in different formats and deciding if you are a good candidate before applying. The job description should provide you a summary of the essential classification and requirements of a job and may include such things as job’s title, purpose, duties and responsibilities, scope, working condition, and the position or designation of the person to whom the employee reports.

Being able to quickly and correctly analyze job descriptions can help you search for suitable employment more effectively and with less frustration. To accurately evaluate a job description for your goodness of match, you must first know your applicable education, skills, experience and behavioral competencies in relation to requirements of the job description. If you don’t, it is advisable to write a general resume before beginning your job search.

Here are some tips to help you.

Print out the job description. Get a highlighter pen so that you can underline or highlight important requirements and qualifications. You can also copy and paste the description into a word processor document and highlight lines if you don’t have a printer. Read the job posting three times: once for Literal meaning, once for inferential meaning and once for evaluative meaning.

Identify the job location. This should be listed at the top. Do not apply for the job if you are not available to work in that area. Some positions may specify if they will take you out of town or pay for relocation expenses. In this case, you may be able to apply for the job without living in the direct vicinity.

Identify and highlight the education required for the job. This is often listed as high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, trade certification or another form of educational qualification. Decide if you qualify based on the education level.

If you have the equivalent of an education level, such as a GED, instead of a high school diploma, you should qualify for the job based on education. If you are studying for a degree in the field, you may also qualify. For example, libraries often hire people who have or are studying for a master’s degree in library science.

Identify and highlight the experience required for a job. Pay attention to language when looking at experience qualification. If 4 years is listed as a minimum requirement, the employer is likely to be strict; however, if 4 years is listed as a “desired qualification” then it may not be strictly necessary.

Highlight the skills necessary for the job. This could be written in a list or in prose format. If it is listed in sentences of paragraph form, list the skills on another piece of paper, so you can underline each skill you possess.

Look for keyboarding skills, interpersonal skills, specific programs or applications, familiarity with technical terms, managerial skills, training skills, experience with equipment or tools, problem-solving skills, physical demands and more.

Identify the daily activities that are involved in the job. Highlight hours, specific duties and daily tasks. Make sure you can complete these tasks before applying.

Skim the description for physical or travel requirements. Some jobs may require that you are able to lift 15 to 50 lbs. (6.8 to 22.7 kg) in order to fulfill the job requirements. Other jobs may require that you are available to travel between 10 to 90 percent of the time. If you cannot fulfill these requirements, do not apply for the job. They are usually non-negotiable.

Highlight the compensation. Near the end of the job description, there is usually a salary or hourly wage. Occasionally the description will say Depends On Experience (DOE), which means that the salary is negotiable based on how well you fulfill the qualifications. If the compensation is listed as DOE, then you may be required to submit a salary history along with your resume. If you don’t know what the average salary is, you should research the salary range for similar jobs in your area. Go to or another site and use the search tool to find what employers are paying in that area.

Decide if you fulfill the education, experience, skill and miscellaneous requirements listed in this job posting. If you do, move forward in the application process. Write a cover letter and adjust your resume to address the applicable qualifications.

Identify the steps that are necessary to apply for the job. Many job descriptions state clearly where a resume, cover letter or inquiries should be sent or emailed. Highlight the deadline to apply and adhere strictly to that deadline.

Follow all application instructions. For example, if the job description clearly states that no phone calls will be taken regarding the job, calling may hurt your candidacy.

If you find a job description with a very long, detailed list of qualifications, it is not likely that the employer expects to find someone with all those qualifications. They are looking for a “best case scenario.” If you have a majority of the required skills, it is a good idea to apply.

A Workforce and Career Development Consultancy

Professional opinions are common. Wisdom is not.