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Entry Level Job Descriptions 101: How to Read Them and Stand Out, By Courtney Crites

Feb 16, 2024 07:06 PM

Let’s be honest - the job market is competitive these days. Understanding how to read an entry level job description is a critical skill that can (maybe) make or break your chances of landing the job. By breaking down the various components of a job description, conducting thorough research, and crafting a tailored application, you can increase your chances of capturing the attention of recruiters.

We spoke to Charlotte Marvin, Human Resources Manager at Total Credit Recovery Limited, about the right way to read an entry level job description, and she shared some valuable tips. 

[Please note the views and opinions expressed below are specific and individual to Charlotte, and not that of TCR.] 

 “Paying attention to the bulleted “requirements” of jobs is key - this is how recruiters will often decide what resumes to pre-screen, and which to reject without contact. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements for items such as location, working hours and availability, etc, its not worth a recruiters’ time to call you, when we know it doesn’t align right off the hop or if there will be a large barrier to getting you employed.”

 “When it comes to entry level jobs, a lot of applicants are either fresh out of school, new to the country, or experiencing a career change- or all 3 cases may apply to one applicant. For this reason, I’m a big fan of cover letters, especially when you have no work experience, or no relevant experience on your resume relating to the role you apply for.” 

If you tell me in that cover letter that you understand you have no prior experience, but love a certain aspect of the job, then I’m more likely to call you. This helps show me that over other applicants, you want this role and have motivation, vs just appearing like you’ve applied for every job under the sun available on Indeed, which is how unrelated applications can sometimes appear.”

Let’s dive a little deeper into how you should read a job description: 

Breaking Down the Job Description 

A well-structured job description usually has several key sections, each providing important information for potential applicants. By reading and understanding these sections, you can gain deeper insights into the role and tailor your application accordingly. As Charlotte suggests, paying close attention to these sections is crucial in catching the recruiter's attention.

1. Employment Type

Take note of the employment type mentioned in the job description. Understanding whether the position is full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract-based is essential in determining if the job aligns with your availability and preferences.

2. Location

Consider the geographical location of the job. Pay attention to the location details provided in the job description. Assessing the location is important in determining if the job aligns with your lifestyle and needs, including factors such as commute times and potential relocation.

3. Overview and Responsibilities

Pay close attention to the overview and responsibilities section of the job description. Look for keywords and phrases that indicate the primary tasks and objectives of the role. Analyze these sections carefully to assess if your skills and interests align with the job requirements.

4. Required Qualifications

Thoroughly read and analyze the qualifications section of the job description. Charlotte highlights the importance of taking note of specific skills, education, and experiences desired by the employer. Pay close attention to mandatory requirements as well as preferred qualifications that could give you a competitive edge. Assess how well your qualifications align with the job description to determine if you are a suitable candidate.

It’s also important to note that even though the heading might say “required,” this list describes the ideal candidate, who may not exist! If you meet 60-70% of the requirements, and you feel you have the potential to excel in this role, apply anyway. 

(Please use your judgment: don’t apply to a role that asks for fluency in French if you only took the mandatory french class in grade 9.)

Researching the Company

In addition to analyzing the job description, conducting thorough research on the company is important to your application and also your interest. Familiarizing yourself with the company's values, mission, and culture helps demonstrate your genuine interest in the position. Remember - it’s not just about if you’re a fit for the job, but if the company is a good fit for you

Utilize resources such as the company's website, social media platforms, and news articles to gather information that can help you tailor your application and showcase your alignment with the organization. 

Whatever information you come across can make you more enthusiastic about the role (yay!), or it could help you decide that the role isn’t for you. If you do find something that makes you excited to work there, mention it in your cover letter! 

Crafting a Compelling Cover Letter

For entry level job applicants like you and me, a well-crafted cover letter is incredibly valuable in showcasing your motivation and suitability for the role. As Charlotte emphasized, a tailored cover letter provides an opportunity to address any potential concerns and give context to your application. Highlight relevant skills, experiences, and transferable qualities, even if they come from outside traditional work settings. Explain how your unique background and perspective make you a valuable asset to the company, in addition to WHY you want to work there. 

Remember: It’s important to edit your cover letter according to each job - recruiters know when it’s simply a copy and paste cover letter.  

Final Thoughts 

By focusing on requirements and tailoring cover letters to address any concerns or lack of experience, you can stand out from the crowd! 

Now’s your time to apply! Lots of new jobs are out now on OCC. Good luck!