Job adverts are important pieces of information in your job hunt. The job advert provides you with many clues of what the employer is looking for in the ‘ideal candidate’. It tells you what qualities, skills, and experience the company needs or what would give you an advantage. But the job advert also helps you understand what to put first on your CV and what to leave out. The employer must be able to quickly look over your CV and see that you have what they need. You only have 10 seconds to catch their eye. Understanding the job advert can help your CV stand out from the rest and get that interview.


Step 1: Is the job right for you?

Don’t look at the title of the position; look at the job description, duties, tasks or responsibilities and the skills and qualifications required. Do you meet the requirements? For an entry-level job, you should at least meet half or more of the requirements. Before you decide to apply, think about the following: Are you able to do the tasks required? Do you want to do these tasks? Are you interested in learning how to do these tasks? If one of the tasks or responsibilities excites you, make a note of it in your cover letter or interview.

Tip: The most important qualities or skills are usually listed first on the job advert.


Step 2: Understand every word in the advert, every word is a clue.

People often use fancy words in a job advert to sell the job to you and get you interested. For example, “Proactive, self-starter, able to work in a fast-paced environment and with minimum supervision” is a common phrase in job adverts. It means that you need to be able to work on your own and complete tasks quickly to get the job done. Give examples on your CV of what they are looking for to make your CV stand out. If there are any words in the job advert that you do not understand, look them up on your phone.


Step 3: Do some research on the company and the job, this is very important.

Some research will help you create a good CV, cover letter, and prepare good questions to ask during the interview.

  • How to find information:

Look up the company, employer or organisation on the internet to find information about them. You can also visit them to get some information like brochures or pamphlets. For example, if you want to apply to a restaurant, knowing what is on their menu can help you understand the employer and their customers better.

  • What information to look for:

Try to find information about the business’ values, goals, culture, and history. You are looking for things that are relevant to the business and that are also important to you. You can highlight some of these in your cover letter to show the employer that you have the right skills or values to help them achieve their goals. Next, look at all the work the company does, even if it is not part of the job description. What products or services do they sell and how do they sell it? What are the main objectives of the company? The more you know about the business, the easier it will be to match your personality and skills to their needs.

  • Look up the job title or speak to someone with a similar job.

Find definitions, job descriptions or other job adverts with the same title. You will find other qualities and skills that might be relevant to the job that you can match to your experiences. Remember, every business decides on their job titles and what skills and qualifications they need. Don't get demotivated if you see skills or qualifications that you do not have. You are only looking for additional information that can help you better understand the job and help your CV to stand out.

  • Doing research will also help you identify job scams.

You will find out if the business is real. Remember, if you have to pay to apply, it is a scam!

  • Research the industry that the company works in.

Who are their competitors? What is going on in the industry? What is new in the industry? What other businesses do similar work and how do they do it differently? Knowing all these things will help you to write a good CV and do well in the interview, as it shows the employers that you have gone the extra mile.


Step 4: What to do with all the information you now have?

Update your CV and cover letter. Try to include all the keywords and phrases you have found in the job advert and your research, to your cover letter and/or CV. It is important to repeat back to employers that you match what they are looking for. But don’t just repeat it, give examples of your skills, experiences or qualities.

Tip: Having examples of what you mentioned in your CV and/or cover letter are very important in the interview.


Carefully read and follow the application instructions:

  • How you should submit your application/documentation.
  • The deadline or latest date you can apply for the job.
  • What other documents you need to submit. Do not send any other documents, only the ones requested. For example only send proof of your Matric Certificate or results if asked.


Following the job advert instructions is very important. If you cannot follow the application instructions, the employer will assume that you cannot follow any instructions.


Before submitting:

  • No spelling mistakes and no lies.
  • Submit as early as possible. Job adverts receive hundreds of applications. Get yours in early.


Next Step: Find out why you should create a different CV for every employer.