Job postings are the lingua franca of the job market. They are the way employers communicate with job seekers. All too often, however, the messages conveyed by those ads are one-sided and BVcorphr4u by corporate jargon. So, how can you interpret the content of job postings to determine which openings are right for you?

Unfortunately, many employers have so reduced the size of their recruiting teams that individual recruiters are now handling dozens of open positions. As a consequence, they often lack the time to write clear, complete and informative job postings. Instead, they fall back on the tired old formula of a job's "Requirements" and "Responsibilities."

It is, of course, important to know a job's Requirements and Responsibilities. They describe the work the employer wants to have done and the skills needed to perform it satisfactorily. That's what employers want you to know because it will enable you to determine whether or not you are qualified to apply.

Being qualified to apply, however, is very different from wanting to. The former serves the employer's interests; the latter serves yours. Requirements and Responsibilities may tell you what employers want you to know, but they seldom describe what YOU want or need to know. They cannot help you evaluate openings because they fail to reveal "What's In It for You."


What's In It For You?

How can you interpret a job posting to determine What's In It For You? Read through the ad's description of the job and look for the answers to five questions:

What will you get to do?

Identify the most significant challenge or opportunity provided by the position. Then, evaluate the importance of that work to you and your career.

With whom will you get to work?

Determine the caliber of the coworkers and/or the culture of the team associated with the position. Then, evaluate how comfortable and motivated you will be to work with such individuals.

What will you get to learn?

Establish the developmental opportunities presented by the work performed in the position. Then, evaluate if they will enable you to perform at your peak and expand your capabilities at work.

What will you get to accomplish?

Assess the potential impact or significance of the work to be performed in the position. Then, evaluate how engaged you will be by such work and how helpful it will be in advancing your career.

How will you be recognized and rewarded?

Pin down the employer's commitment to and mechanism for acknowledging and compensating superior work. Then, evaluate if your contribution at work will be sufficiently remembered and honored.

If a job posting doesn't provide the answers to those five questions, you're rolling the dice to apply for the opening. Indeed, the key to a successful job search is knowing when to apply AND when not to. Employers use Requirements and Responsibilities in a job posting to help you determine if you're qualified to apply. To know if you should, however, you have to interpret the posting to evaluate "What's In It For You."