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Planning a better future
Planning a better future

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4.2 Matching vacancies

You’ve seen a vacancy advertised that you’d like to apply for. Now you want to make sure you have a ‘match’. So, before finding out more about the position, analyse the information you already have. Even a brief advertisement can reveal a great deal of useful information if you read between the lines. Look at the advertisement and analyse it under these headings:

  • Style and language: what’s the general style of the advertisement? Is it formal, low-key, flamboyant or attention-seeking? What does this tell you about the organisation?

    What vocabulary is used to describe the organisation? How does the organisation see itself and what image does it want to project? Do you feel comfortable with its choice of words? Will your personality fit the organisation? Are your values similar?

  • Brief job description: does the work genuinely interest you? Does it match your needs? What are the key tasks? What skills are needed? Can you produce evidence of your ability to deal successfully with each task? How will you demonstrate your potential for coping with tasks you haven’t handled before? Is there anything that seems unclear?
  • Qualifications: are qualifications preferred or essential? For example, do you need a driving licence or other specified qualification?

  • Experience: is experience preferred or essential? Will you be ruled out? What experience can you offer from any aspect of your life that demonstrates close or transferable skills?

  • Qualities: note the language used to describe the ideal applicant. Analyse each noun and adjective for its implications. For example, ‘committed self-starter’ could imply that there’ll be little supervision, but may also mean that no training is provided. You may have to motivate yourself with little support or encouragement, or even in the face of resistance. Find out what this will mean in practice, and be honest about whether your personality and needs match what the employer wants.
  • Location and geographical mobility: how far would you travel each day? Would you consider moving house? If you need to travel around, how much of a problem would this be for you?
  • Prospects: what opportunities are there for advancement in this job? The employer may be looking for evidence of your willingness and ability to progress. If the opportunities seem limited, it’s important to see how you can use it to develop your skills and experience.
  • Salary: usually a good guide to the level of qualifications and experience required, but you have to be aware of the going rate for that occupation. What are you looking for, especially if there isn’t a specified salary?
  • Named contact: is a name given to contact for further information? It’s a good idea to follow up such offers, but be prepared when you do, as the contact will form an impression of you from the very beginning. Rehearse your introduction and be prepared for the question, ‘What would you like to know about us?’. Be ready to highlight your suitability for the post.