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Decoding a job description

Paying attention to the details!

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment

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Sometimes you can tell a lot from a job description, while other times they’re super-vague and you won’t know more until you apply. But generally, there’s been a lot of thought put into the wording, so you ought to put as much thought and effort into your application.

There are some things that can be really handy to be aware of when looking at job descriptions.

Things to keep in mind

Newspaper ads

These job descriptions are usually short and can have short acronyms, as the ads are pay per word. So first thing to do is Google a role if you’re unsure of what it entails. If you’re not sure of the difference between a sound technician and sound engineer, a web search can be your friend to see if your skills match up.


  • Pro rata – for a specified amount of time or hours
  • IT literate/digital – Having a good knowledge of computers and computer programmes like MS Word/Powerpoint/Excel etc. If it mentions digital or something similar, it may indicate that the role involves working with social media.
  • Personality – This is usually looking to tell if you’ll fit into a team
  • Permanent – This means a position is full-time
  • Temporary – This means that the work is for a limited time only
  • Contract – This usually means your job will end after a certain period (ie six months) but can be subject to extension
  • K – thousand (related to pay)
  • PA – per annum (yearly salary)
  • Trainee – This title suggests there is room for learning on the job


If there is a list of required skills and you don’t have them all, don’t panic. If you have 8 out of 10, you could still be a very suitable candidate with some room for development. But an important thing to remember is you need to show that you have all of the skills, not just list off the ones you have and that are mentioned. State, explain and discuss.

If elements of a description are described as ‘essential’ or is put in CAPS lock, 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 or your CV getting the bin.

And there’s always LinkedIn to see descriptions of the work people do in the same role in a different organisation.

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Published January 20th, 2014
Last updated December 1st, 2016
Tags jobs work employment
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