What should I look out for in job ads?

Time is probably more valuable when you’re jobhunting than at any other stage in your career. With applications and CVs to write and interviews to prepare for, you certainly don’t want to be wasting time chasing jobs that aren’t for you.

Make sure you read the advertisement carefully, so you have a clear idea of the basic nature of the position and what the employer is looking for. Then ask yourself these central questions: 

  • Would I like this job?
  • Does it pay well enough?
  • Is the location convenient?
  • Would it be a step forward in my career?
  • Is there any single task mentioned in the ad that I would be either unable or unprepared to do?

If the ad is clear and informative, it should provide the answers to these questions and give you the basis for deciding whether to go ahead and apply or move on to the next one.

Sadly, plenty of ads are less than clear. Some are clumsily put together, others assume far too much knowledge for anyone except internal candidates to understand, and a few are couched in deliberately opaque terms, often to provoke a creative response from applicants. If any one of these is the case, do some research about the organisation online or in publications. If this still doesn’t clarify the nature of the job, make a polite enquiry to nail down the details, and only then decide whether it’s worth applying.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.