Jobs adverts are a vital part of the recruitment process. Employers use them to sell jobs and attract the best candidates. They can also be an excellent source of information that job seekers can use to extract key data that can increase their chances of success.

What is a job advert
These are advertisements written by HR departments or recruitment companies, and are designed to attract the best qualified candidates for a specific vacancy. Their aim is to give prospective candidates a clear understanding of a role and its purpose. They usually consist of a job title as well as a job description and will have details about the salary, closing date and how to apply i.e. “No phone calls”, “Apply by email” etc.

A note of caution – some employers try to jazz up a job advert to make an unpopular or boring company or job sound amazing.

How to read a job advert and get key information that can help you to build a winning CV

Although deciphering a job ad can be tricky, it’s not impossible and well worth the effort. Many adverts are filled with jargon, which can leave you confused as to what the employer is actually looking for. The trick is to read it carefully and identify those specialisms, skills, knowledge and experience the recruiter wants.

Stage 1 – Read the job description
The job description can give you a good insight into what criteria the employer wants from you along with the skills and qualifications required for the role. Analysing it is an excellent way to find out what a company requires from a candidate. If you can correctly interpret this document, it will tell you how to write your CV, Resume and Cover Letter.

Don’t just scan, instead look closely for keywords. You need to read between the lines, as some of the adverts can seem very vague at first glance. Try to glean and decode information that many not be apparent at first.

Stage 2 – Print out the job advert
Then with a pen highlight those keywords and phrases that describe particular skills that are being specifically asked for, or which you think they want.

Stage 3 – Write your CV and include the keywords
Now start building your CV and include the skills, experience and qualifications that have been mentioned in the job advert. Remember that you not only need to have the competencies, you have to be able to prove you have them.


  • Use bold type to highlight those keywords that the employer wants.
  • Try to mirror the language the company uses in its adverts.

When to apply for a job 
Generally it’s said that if you can tick 80% of the boxes in terms of what the employer is asking for from a candidate, then it is well worth your time applying. However, be aware that some adverts have words that are more vague, for instance; “desired”, “preferably”, “preferred”, and “ideally”. These words suggest some flexibility and are therefore still worth going for.

When not to apply
Some adverts will have phrases like “you must have” or “you need”. These are very specific requirements. If you do not have these abilities then there’s no point in applying. It’s as simple as that.

What do companies want from a job advert
They do not want a huge response as it can take a lot of time to sift through all the applications. Instead they want to attract a small, select group of the best candidates.

Advantages of reading a job advert
Carefully going through one will help you to;

  • Target/match your CV to the requirements of the employer.
  • Save time by stopping you from applying for jobs you are not suitable for or have no chance of getting.
  • Only apply for jobs that you have a chance of getting.
  • Determine which jobs suit you.
  • Quickly determine what an employer is looking for, and the type of person they want.
  • Find out if you are suitable for the job. You can quickly list all of the skills required and then decide if you have these.


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