How to utilise information in the job description
By Hannah Vernon, Media & Communications at Gradcracker
All of the information within the job description is there to help you determine whether the opportunity is right for you. It should capture what the role will involve, and what you will need to be able to do the job well. You need to consider these points carefully before applying, and if you decide that you are the right person for the job, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate how and why throughout the application process. And you can do this by using all of the information in the job description to your advantage…
When you click into a job on Gradcracker, you will find the ‘Opportunity Overview’ on the right-hand side. This summarises the main details of the job and tells you at a glance whether the job is worth delving deeper into.
- Firstly, the deadline will tell you when applications for the opportunity are closing so that you can give yourself enough time to put together an impressive application. When the deadline is ‘Ongoing’, the employer will likely close the opportunity whenever they receive enough applications, so we recommend applying as soon as possible in these instances.
- This section may also disclose the salary, but some employers choose to simply state that the salary is ‘competitive’. Either way, opportunities on Gradcracker are typically very well paid, with an average salary of around £27,000 for graduates and between £16,000-£18,000 pro rata for placement students.
- You’ll also find the level of qualification required – this can range from a 3rd or unspecified right up to PhD level. It’s important to remember that master’s and PhD graduates can also apply for opportunities that only ask for a bachelor’s degree.
- Finally, it will tell you where the job is based. We recommend being as flexible as you can when it comes to location because it will open you up to a lot more opportunities and experiences. Some opportunities are available in multiple locations, and where you’d like to work will be confirmed at a later stage. Roles can also be rotational, in which case you must be open to travel; you should find any information on rotations within the job description.
The Job Description itself
Job descriptions on Gradcracker are typically made up of a number of sections, covering who the employer is, what the role and/or programme will involve, the requirements, and what the employer can offer you. All of this information will be relevant to your application. Here’s how you can utilise it…
Who are they?
When applying to an opportunity, it’s important that the employer is right for you. Does the work they do align with your career aspirations? Do you agree with their values and can you see yourself fitting into their work culture? The job description will usually introduce you to the employer; though this section may not answer all of your questions, it will give you a good idea of who they are and what they do before you go on to find out more about them (by exploring their Gradcracker hub).
What will I be doing?
The job description should outline what the role and/or programme involves and list any responsibilities you might have. It’s important to remember that you will receive training once you start the job, so you won’t always have to have experience or be familiar with all of it. However, it’s a good idea to consider what makes you able to fulfil these responsibilities – whether that be knowledge and technical experience or soft skills.
What are they looking for?
Requirements for the role should be clearly stated in the job description; these can include qualifications, technical knowledge, skills and abilities, personal qualities and behaviours. I recommend using this section as a checklist to make sure that you meet each of the requirements. Come up with specific examples that demonstrate your competencies, and use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to communicate them during the application process. (Remember, soft skills are as important as technical skills. If you’re struggling with examples, think about meeting university deadlines; projects or societies you’ve been involved in, or any part-time jobs you have had.)
What’s in it for me?
Finally, a job description will usually describe what the employer can offer you. This section is unique to the employer and can cover things like benefits, and training and development opportunities. Think about what you value most in your job and personal life, as well as what your career ambitions are – does what the employer is offering align with these?
Each job description will be unique to the employer and the opportunity. This means that they won’t always follow a specific structure and will likely include additional information to that which I have covered above. The important thing to remember is that everything in the job description is there for a reason; it is all relevant. Use it to decide whether the opportunity is right for you, and what makes you the best person for the job.