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How to decode that job advert and get hired

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The sage advice on tailoring your resume and cover letter for a job application is as apt today as it was a decade ago. But have you ever looked at a job advert and felt totally stumped at what you should prioritise and what you shouldn’t?

Whether or not you’re a seasoned professional, it can sometimes be hard to identify which of your long list of accomplishments, experience, skills and proficiencies you should include. Some job adverts seem like they want you to highlight well...everything.

And there’s no way that that ‘everything’ can possibly fit into one or two pages of resume – especially if you’re following the ‘one page for every decade of experience’ rule of thumb. So how do you decide what to leave out and what to prioritise?

  • For roles you are familiar with, you can tell by the first glance what is the most important skills or proficiency.
  • Hiring managers concur, however, that the top 3-4 items represent 75 per cent of what the role is about.
  • When developing a job description, it’s likely that the person in charge of the team will begin with those responsibilities that are most critical, most crucial or that represent the biggest pain point regarding the role.
  • Therefore make sure your accomplishments clearly expound on those first 3-4 items, and the rest can be shown either by bullet point format or as a combined list.
  • Your most valuable accomplishments, skills and experience (according to what’s first on the job ad job description section) should make it to the top of your cover letter and resume

Some adverts indicate desirable skills or qualifications towards the bottom with the words ‘would be an added advantage’. This gives you a benefit over other hires but if you do not have it, don’t sweat it. Instead, show how a different qualification or experience would make you an even more ideal candidate.

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