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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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1 What to look for in job advertisements

Photo of a woman holding a magnifying glass to her eye.
Figure 1 Looking at job adverts

Your analysis should begin with understanding what any job advertisement is telling you.

Below is an advert and sample analysis. It is a general advert for graduates to work in the Scottish Health Service, rather than for a specific job. The advert is for someone who has already graduated from university, but it has been chosen because it contains the kind of information which is useful for demonstrating how close reading can tell you a lot about an employer’s needs.

The bracketed numbers and bold text in the advert indicate points that were considered important to understand, or remember, by the person considering applying for the post. Read the text through first without looking at the notes, then read it again noting what the applicant thought was important.

Graduate opportunities

Greater Glasgow Health Board serves a population of 1 million people, [1] treating over 21,000 in-patients and dealing with 2.25 million out-patient attendances annually. As one of the UK's largest Health Authorities we regard our on-going [2] commitment to the training of graduates as crucial to our future success.

  • Management Trainees
  • Salary to £19,426

You will be a graduate with a [3] relevant degree, be [4] able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing and possess good interpersonal, statistical and analytical skills. You will also be able to demonstrate the potential to manage physical and human resources in the pursuit of achieving the [5] Board's Organisational Goals.

For our part we will give you a comprehensive two year training in [6] one of the most progressive and innovative organisations in the country which will emphasize 'hands-on' management experience and the [7] application of sound business techniques in the delivery of Health Care. There will also be an opportunity to develop a special interest in [8] Supplies Management. You will be supervised personally by one of the Board's Unit General Managers, and will be assisted with [9] further study, tailored to suit your needs.

If you have the capacity and ability to make a success of the training we are offering, write for further details to the Appointments Section, Greater Glasgow Health Board, 112 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1ET.

[10] Great Glasgow Health Board (presented within a Charles Rennie Mackintosh motif).

[11] Our business is health.

Greater Glasgow job advert notes

[1] Proud of being a part of large organisation, I should reflect on this when I say why GGHB appeals to me.

[2] Find out about their training programme and mention this as a further attraction.

[3] What do they have in mind and why? Any degree could be relevant. Demonstrate relevance of mine.

[4] Give good evidence of my skills.

[5] Find out about these.

[6] What do they mean?

[7] Note changed view of NHS as a business. Any relevant Department of Health publications that might put this into context?

[8] What does this mean? What skills are required? Info that I have on them.

[9] What might this involve? Will my degree qualify me for any exemptions?

[10] Greater Glasgow Health Board is enclosed in a Charles Rennie Mackintosh type motif. Subliminal messages in the use of this motif, new image for NHS, proud to be in Glasgow.

[11] A significant statement about change in NHS; as (7) above. What connections should I be making with regard to the NHS as a whole or Department of Health initiatives and management styles?

(The Open University, 2015)

One way of learning something new is to observe what someone else does. You have seen the way someone analysed a particular advert and, whether or not the job opportunity feels relevant to you or your life, you will have noticed some general things that the person doing the analysis drew out from their reading. Such as, noting the general information about the NHS, the qualification required for the position, the additional training provided and the general skills required.

It doesn’t matter what kind of job advert you are looking at, it is this kind of detail that you need to concentrate on.