Deciphering job postings

By Jennie Bragg, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. employers shed 131,000 jobs in July. If you are out there reading the classifieds and scanning job boards, you are certainly not alone, but those postings can be difficult to navigate.

What will the job entail? Are you really qualified? And how can you make yourself look like the ideal candidate to the hiring manager?

The most important thing you can do is tailor your resume to each specific job.

Only 41% of job candidates take the time to do this, according to a recent survey by Yahoo! HotJobs.

Look for a few key words and phrases within each posting to make your resume stand out from the rest of the stack.

Job title

Words used in the job title should appear prominently throughout your entire resume.

HR managers and aggregator job sites will screen for these keywords first. And consider using related words. "For an accountant job, your resume should contain the words accounting, accountant, finance, and so on," suggests Charles Purdy, senior editor at Yahoo! HotJobs. "This can be a problem if you've had titles that weren't really accurate; for instance, if your last job title was office manager, but you also handled accounts payable, you might want to put that in the job title, in parentheses."

Qualifications and responsibilities

When it comes to qualifications required for a job, don't let a laundry list discourage you. "Realize that most job postings are like a wish list for a dream candidate who likely doesn't exist: Hiring managers start out with the true qualifications, and then add the nice-to-haves," says Charles Purdy.

The first three or four qualifications and responsibilities listed are usually the most important. Repeat phrases used in the job description at top of your cover letter or resume, and describe how you meet the employer's qualifications.

Applying

How you go about applying for a job can be just as important as the resume and cover letter you send, so check all deadlines and procedures for applications and interviews.

Purdy warns that your application process can, "either enhance your application or terminate it. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully and apply promptly before the deadline."

And be careful to check all spelling and professional titles before cover letters and resumes go out. A simple error could immediately dismiss your application from a pile of hundreds.

Talkback: Have you landed a job through an online job board? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.22%4.27%
15 yr fixed3.19%3.24%
5/1 ARM3.30%3.33%
30 yr refi4.23%4.29%
15 yr refi3.21%3.27%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,730.11 -27.80 -0.16%
Nasdaq 5,009.21 -3.91 -0.08%
S&P 500 2,076.78 -0.64 -0.03%
Treasuries 2.39 -0.02 -1.03%
Data as of 10:11pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.03 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 126.44 0.00 0.00%
Intel Corp 30.56 0.00 0.00%
Micron Technology In... 19.07 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.78 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Jul 2

Sections

Greece votes Sunday in a crisis referendum that will determine the country's future in the eurozone. The result is too close to call. More

Entrepreneur Guillaume Gauthereau is on a mission to build a 50 to a 100 acre sanctuary in New York to provide refuge to honey bees. More

The most expensive schools in the nation are charging close to $50,000 a year in tuition and fees alone. More