Understanding a job description

Before applying for a job, it is a good idea to read and understand the job description

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Job descriptions can often tell you a lot about a hiring company, the role and what they are looking at in a candidate. This information can be helpful when it comes to writing an application.

Before writing a job application, it is important to fully understand the job description.

How to understand a job description

While every job description will be different, there are certain words and phrases that are quite common.

Words and phrases to look out for in job descriptions

The following words will often be used in a job description:

  • Blended: A blended work environment allows employees to combine working from home with face-to-face working in a way that suits both the employer and the employees
  • Commission: If you have a commission-based salary, your income will be dependent on you reaching a certain goal. For example, you might only earn money when you make a sale or a certain number of sales. Sometimes, people can earn commission in addition to a base salary. This means that they will earn a set amount of money each month but will be entitled to more if they reach certain targets
  • Contract: Contract employment involves hiring a person for a specific job for a fixed period of time. Sometimes, this period of time can be extended
  • Entry-level position: Entry-level jobs are aimed at people who do not have previous experience in a particular area of work. They are often designed for recent graduates
  • Flexible work hours: This allows an employee to choose the times that they start and finish their work
  • K: thousand (related to pay)
  • Key responsibilities: A list of the day to day duties you will be expected to carry out if you get the job
  • On-site: If a job is on-site, you will need to complete your work tasks at a particular location chosen by the employer such as an office
  • Opportunities for growth: This usually means that you will be able to advance in your career and/ or be promoted over time 
  • PA: per annum (yearly salary)
  • Payment: This refers to what your income will be. You will often see the word ‘negotiable’ which means that, if offered the job, the employer is willing to agree a salary with you.
  • Permanent: A permanent position is one that does not have an expected end date
  • Pro rata: Someone who works pro rata gets a portion of a full-time salary. For example, if your salary would be Є20,000 pro rata in a 40-hour week, but you work 30 hours a week, your annual salary would be Є15,000
  • References: When you apply for a job, you might be asked for references. References are people who know you and can talk about your work experience, personality and skills
  • Remote: This means that you will work from home
  • Temporary: This means that the work is for a limited time only
  • Trainee: This title suggests that you will be learning on the job. Traineeships normally pay less than regular position
  • Zero hour contract: Zero hour contracts are contracts of employment signed by you and your boss that state that you are employed to work for the company, but you’re not guaranteed a set number of hours

What skills will I need when applying for jobs?

If there is a list of required skills and you don’t have them all, try not to panic. If you have some of them and are willing to learn, you could still be a very suitable candidate. 

If elements of a description are described as ‘essential’, pay extra attention to these details. They are emphasised for a reason and may make a big difference in you getting an interview for a job.

Find out more about what skills you should put on your CV and how to improve your skills and employability.

Need more information?

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