News & Events

Decoding Job Ads


Employment & Learning

YWCA Saskatoon’s Employment and Learning Centre remains closed for in-person programs in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.  We will continue to provide remote services via email, telephone and online (Facebook).

We believe it is important to maintain your job search momentum. As such the Employment and Learning Centre will offer you daily job search advice and support that you can complete from home.

Today’s post is another post in the series…

Job seekers often say, ‘When applying for jobs, I cannot figure out what employers are looking for’…by decoding job ads, you will be on your way to understanding the mind of the employer.

Job postings are typically broken out into approximately six sections.  These sections include, but may not be limited to:

  • Job Title
  • Qualifications
  • Responsibilities
  • About Us
  • Benefits and Pay

We encourage you to review the job ad, and job ads for similar jobs, along with job descriptions or occupational profiles of similar jobs.  The ALIS website listed below is an excellent resource. .

And I do not mean scan, I mean carefully read these job descriptions, with a critical eye.  Keep in mind, the following:

  • generally, the most important items are probably listed toward the top
  • if words, concepts, and phrases are repeated they are usually important
  • when they say things like ‘must-have’ or ‘required’, they probably mean it.

Keep in mind that employers are looking for

  • Soft Skills: what you are like as a person or worker, or your character, such as….prompt and reliable, safety-conscious or analytic problem solver.
  • Hard Skills: what you know how to do and your qualifications, such as able to drive a car (Class 5 Saskatchewan Driver’s License), able to use Excel or a Grade 12 graduate or equivalent, First Aid/CPRC/AED or other safety tickets.

We then recommend you highlight this important information, using an old fashioned highlighter or by underlining it with a pen.  If you have done this successfully, you will have decoded the job ad and will understand what they are looking for.

You may not have everything they are looking for, but at least you will know what they are looking for.   Keep in mind that these job ads describe their perfect candidate and few of us are the perfect candidate, so remember, with many job postings it will be impossible for any one person to be a perfect match.

Your next steps are to tailor your cover letter and resume reflecting as best you can, what they are looking for and what you have to offer them.

Think of the job posting as a map or a key to getting the position. Read the description carefully, and several times. It’s a good idea to review the want ad at the following points:

  • When you first see the Advertisement
  • When you are writing your tailored Cover Letter and Resume
  • When you are preparing for the Job Interview

Don’t make the mistake of only skimming the job ad. They may be difficult to read, or repetitive but, the information included in job ads will help you submit the perfect application, and give strong responses to interview questions.

Your Employment and Learning staff can assist you in decoding job ads and tailoring you cover letters and resumes.  Remember, we or are working remotely through email or over the telephone, but are still available to support you.  Should you have any questions or require assistance in your job search, feel free to contact any of your E&L staff for support.  You can reach your employment counsellor at his/her regular email or at:

  • (306) 986-2873 [Telephone]
  • [Email].

Stay motivated; stay healthy as you achieve your employment goals.