Looking at a job description on a laptop.

In this week’s blog we will be breaking down the anatomy of a job description. The better you understand how the average job description is built, the easier it will be to assess if you are qualified and interested in a position. We will also give a few tips and tricks on each of the specific sections of the job description, so look out for that. We hope you come away from this article much more efficient at analyzing any job opportunities!

To make it clear to understand, we’ve mocked up a fake job description for a ‘Blog Writer’ in blue below. All of the advice and informative discussion will be in black. Keep in mind that every job description is different, so what you will see may differ. Some companies are extremely brief in their description, and others are exhaustively thorough. So while what you see may vary greatly, the principal purposes remain the same.

Blog Writer

First up is the title. It is fairly straightforward, but still worth noting. This would be your title if you were to be hired, and it also can help you search for a potential salary if one isn’t listed. Pair the title with the location below in search to get a rough estimate of how much the job may pay. You may also want to consider if this title illustrates upward movement.

Location: Albany, NY

Location is also fairly straightforward, but it’s one of the first things you should check. If you’re looking through a lot of job descriptions to apply to, you may want to look at the location and the qualifications first. Looking at the location will help you determine if you’d be willing to make that commute or relocate.

Description:

We are currently hiring a new Blog Writer. The Blog Writer will be responsible for researching, writing, and publishing weekly blogs in addition to an assortment of other duties. This is a full time salaried position.

Most job descriptions have an introductory paragraph that indicates the title, and a basic one or two sentence description of the role’s purpose. Usually if there are any other details that are included, they will be listed here. For instance, 40 hour workweek, full-time, permanent, salaried, 9-5 job, etc. Some companies may sell themselves here, with a brief description of what it is they do, and why they would be enticing to work for. You also may see benefits listed here, or they may show up at the end of the job description.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Carry out research to determine new and interesting topics for relevant audiences.
  • Write, edit, and proofread 3 blogs a week.
  • Publish blog across social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Ensure the blog stays up to date.
  • Optimize all new articles and blogs for search engines.
  • Curate licensed photos to be included in each blog.

Next up is responsibilities, where the employer will list a number of the daily, weekly, monthly, and sometimes yearly duties associated with the job. This is also the best spot to figure out what your day to day work will look like were you to be hired for the position. Put yourself in the mindset of a regular day, and think about accomplishing these tasks. Is that something you would be interested in? That’s a good way to get a feel for if the job would be satisfying to you. You may want to also keep your eye out for ‘other duties as assigned’. That catch all task can include a lot, and sometimes may include tasks that you’re not interested in. If you see that phrase, you may want to inquire further in a job interview.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, English, or Media Studies.
  • 2+ years of experience working as a blogger.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be proficient in site building tools, as well as social media platforms.
  • Hubspot or Hootsuite certifications are a plus.

Finally we arrive at qualifications, the true test. This is where the employer indicates the kind of credentials and experience they are looking for in the ideal candidate. While it’s easy to get intimidated by these qualifications, it is important to remember what these represent. They represent what the employer thinks their ideal candidate looks like. In truth, they may wind up hiring someone with a different background. So even if you don’t have everything listed, don’t panic. Job descriptions are just wish lists, after all!

This is also one of the sections that can vary in terms of thoroughness. Some companies may simply list education and years of experience. Others may list specific topics you need to be knowledgeable on. Whatever the case, the more you can check off the better. Some companies do list soft skills, and others don’t. So even if you don’t see ‘strong communication skills listed’ it is probably a requirement. If you want to quickly see if you are qualified, check out this section first!

Becoming a Job Description Pro

That’s it for your basic job description! Some companies will list other things like benefits, salary, culture, and more in their job descriptions, but this represents the basics of what most include. Every job description is written differently for a different company, so it’s unlikely that two will read the same. If you truly want to understand a job description, make sure you do some research into the company as well. That will help balance out your perspective of the opportunity with the more formal HR perspective of the job.

If you want to quickly judge if a job description is right for you, we recommend skimming it in this order:

  • Title
  • Location
  • Qualifications
  • Description
  • Responsibilities

Going through the sections that are more likely to turn you away saves you time. It also keeps you from getting to invested in an opportunity only to realize you need 10 years of experience and only have two. The better you understand how job descriptions are built, the better you will be at picking out which ones are worthwhile for you to apply to. We hope this quick guide helps you in all of your future job search endeavors! Test test.