How to Analyse a Job Ad

Things to consider when analysing the position include the following:

  • What is the overall role of this job within the department and within the organisation?
  • What skills, experience, qualifications, training and qualities are necessary for the job?
  • What skills, experience, qualifications, training and qualities would also be useful for the job, but are not listed?
  • Consider the context of the job and the organisation and what the important needs and drivers are, both now and for the future. This will help you read between the lines to discover other important factors the organisation needs.
  • Pay attention to the closing date and the contact person's details. You can contact this person to find out more information before writing your application. Whilst the information is fresh in your mind, note the reasons you want this job and why you think you would be good at it. This information will be helpful later when you are writing your cover letter and your career objective in your resume.

Deeper analysis of the role

To answer the next questions you will need to research the company, the department and the role so that you have a very good understanding of what is involved in the job.

  • What results or outcomes is this position expected to achieve?
  • What opportunities, success and achievements could be available in this job for someone who had initiative, drive and capability? What skills and personal qualities would make it easier to realise these opportunities?
  • What kinds of challenges, barriers, difficulties and problems are likely to emerge and face the person doing this job? What skills and personal qualities would make it easier to face these challenges successfully?

Analysing unadvertised jobs

For jobs that have not been advertised, the process of analysis is very similar to that of the above, there is just a little more work involved. You will need to research what is involved in the type of job you are interested in and then find suitable employers who may have this type of work available. 

Some suggestions for researching a job where there is no job advertised:

  • Look for as many similar jobs that are advertised in the press, online or in industry journals.
  • Look at the position descriptions (also called duty statements and job descriptions) for other similar jobs. You can find these by:
    • Requesting information packs on similar jobs that are advertised and reading the position descriptions.
    • Requesting a position description from the HR Office for other advertised jobs.
  • Go to the positions vacant section of government departments and large organisations and look for position descriptions of similar jobs.
  • Visit the web site of related Professional Associations. They often have information on careers in their field, they also may have publications, or may recommend publications, that contain details of what is involved in professional roles.
  • Look up short job descriptions in the myfuture occupations database. For each occupation you can examine the set of duties and tasks that the occupation involves.
  • Visit the UK Prospects web site for detailed descriptions for many jobs and careers, particularly relevant for university graduates