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Reading & Using Job Ads Part 1

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Not all job ads look the same. You may be reading job ads in a newspaper, on a flier, or even from the Internet. In order to use the job ads to help you write your résumé and cover letter, follow the steps listed below.

What do I need to know from the job ad?

Once you find a job ad you are interested in, highlight the four most important areas of information:

  1. The company name, the company contact information, and company description
  2. The job title (and job number if applicable) and job requirements
  3. The contact person
  4. Application requirements

Company Name

Highlighting the company name in job ads will help you organize your job search. You may also want to list company names and job information on a separate piece of paper. Highlighting the company name will also help you tailor your résumé and cover letter, and it will help you spell the company name correctly.

To tailor your résumé and cover letter to a specific company, use the name of the company in the objective line in the résumé and in the introduction of your cover letter. The name can also tell you about the company. For example, if you are looking for a landscaping job, a company named Joe’s Custodial may not be the place for you.

Company Contact Information

Highlighting and keeping track of the company contact information will help you organize your job search. You may apply for a lot of jobs, and keeping company names and contact information together will help you avoid mixing up résumés, cover letters, and applications. The company contact information will go at the top of your cover letter. The contact information will also go on the envelope you use to mail your documents if you use the postal services to submit your résumé and cover letter.

Company Description

Highlighting important words in the company description (if included in the job ad) will help you learn about the organization and the people looking for employees. You can learn about the company’s goals from their description.

You can use a company’s goals in your cover letter to explain how you are a good match for their organization. For example, if a company describes itself as a “fast-paced, team oriented food service,” you can write in your cover letter that you do well in fast-paced jobs where people have to work together. Of course, you will have to show that you have some experience in a fast-paced, team oriented job to support your position.

Job Title and Job Number (if applicable)

Highlighting the job title, job number if applicable, and job requirements will help you organize your job search. You will use the job title and job number in the objective line of your résumé and in the introduction of your cover letter.

Job Requirements

Highlighting the job tasks and requirements will help you explain how you can fill the position. For example, if the requirements for a warehouse job state “applicant must be able to lift and carry 100 pounds and drive a forklift,” you should explain in your letter that you can do those tasks: “In my job at Small Car Parts International, I worked in their warehouse where I lifted and carried boxes weighing 100 pounds. I also drove the warehouse forklift.”

You should highlight the amount of experience required for the job. For example, if the ad reads “applicants must be licensed cosmetologists and should have a minimum of two years of experience,” you should explain that you meet those needs: “I finished cosmetology school in 2007 and have worked at Mary’s Beauty Boutique since then.”

You should also highlight certification or license requirements, such as Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or cosmetology license requirements.

Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.