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Tackling Job Specs – What you need to know

Link Blog | March 28, 2019

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Tackling job specs – What you need to know!

When applying for a new job, especially through online jobs boards, one of the most difficult parts of the process can be trying to figure out what on earth companies are looking for in a candidate. Job specifications or “job specs” (i.e. an outline of the duties of a job, previous work and academic experience required) are often turgid, long-winded documents which leave the hopeful applicant at a loss as to whether or not they fit the bill. However, there are some easy rules of thumb to follow to properly decipher job specs and establish firstly whether you are suitable for the job, and more importantly whether you want it or not!

Cut to the Chase: Job Specs contain essential information needed to assess your suitability for a job. However, all information in a job spec is by no means essential. Candidates should get to the meat of the requirements as quickly as possible. Phrases “like good team player” “Good Communication Skills” and “Self – Starter” are present on most specs but don’t really tell us what is specifically required for the job in question. The main duties of the position and desired attributes required of the candidate will usually be covered by the first few points in each section. If you meet these main educational and work experience requirements, you are on the right track.

Simplify: Some job specs seem to be written in 18th Century English. They are often written by people eager to make their own job seem more important. While Adam Sandler referred to himself as a “Water Distribution Engineer”, we know he was the water boy. Try to simplify the language so you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Use the Spec to your Advantage: It’s important to remember that while a spec may have been written by someone who has an in-depth knowledge of the finer points of the job, it would be naïve to think that the first person who reads your CV will have that level of understanding. A recruiter (your author excluded!) or member of the HR team’s decision on what constitutes a good candidate may well be guided solely by matching spec to CV. Don’t fall at the first hurdle by imagining the person reading your CV is an expert. Make sure that the document clearly outlines that you have the correct experience. Use the specific keywords that the spec uses, but try to avoid using whole sentences verbatim.

Be Confident: It’s easy to be discouraged by the flowery language many job specs use, but don’t be put off. If you think you have 70-80% of what the company are looking for you are doing well enough to send in a CV. Remember, most jobs require some on the job training, so employers aren’t expecting the finished article. Furthermore job specs which have a requirement of 5 years’ experience are written to discourage applicants with little or no experience. If you have 3 years’ experience and are confident in your ability, send your CV

Job specs can be tough to get to grips with, but by following these rules you can break them down and use them to your advantage in the application process. Good luck!

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