Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Before applying to a job, it is important to understand how your past experience matches up with the Job Description for the role you're applying for. The reason why you want to do this is that you don't want to blindly apply to any job without understanding what the employer is asking for. If you do, you run the risk of walking into an interview where the interviewer will immediately see that there is a mismatch.
Once upon a time, I was unemployed and blindly submitted to job requisitions not even knowing if the job was a right fit. I just needed a job. The downside to this was that the interviews rarely went well because disconnects with my job experience were uncovered.
In this article, we'll run though a sample job description and put into context how your experience can match up. Normally, the job description will be split into the below sections: Overview, Responsibilities, Qualifications, Benefits, Location Requirements and Nice to Haves.
In this section, the overview of the job role is introduced. The name of the company is provided as well as what products and services this company offers. Do some research on this company to determine if this is a company that you even want to work for.
This section is a list of what you will be doing for this employer. Are you confident that you can execute these responsibilities and does your experience tie into what's required? For example, if one of the responsibilities is to create and manage a project budget, can you explain on an interview how you've done this in your past experience? Keep in mind that many interview questions come from what you put on your resume.
Qualifications and Skills
These are the skillsets required for the job. Your resume should emphasize these skillsets and how you leveraged them on projects in the past. Keep in mind that you can leverage multiple job roles to emphasize that you own a particular skillset. An example would be an employer looking for 5 years of Project Management experience and your job title was Project Manager for the last 3 years and you did project management tasks 2 years prior in a Business Analyst role. Just because your role was different doesn't mean that you can't use related experience.
Don't overlook this section as it provides valuable info as to whether you need to negotiate during an interview. For example, if the role is only offering 3 weeks of vacation but you want 5 weeks, you already know to add this to your negotiation strategy. This especially makes sense for a situation where you negotiated on salary or signing bonus and did not get exactly what you were expecting. You can negotiate on these points at least.
Perform a a Google Map of the town where the office is located. Is the commute realistic? Keep in mind to do this at either 8:30am or 5:30pm when you can get a good idea as to how long it will really take to get to this location.
Nice to Haves
Another section not to underestimate. If you possess the nice to haves the employer is looking for, this may help you with the interview question, "What makes you different from the other 20 project managers applying for this same role?" Make note of the nice to haves that you have experience with and bring all of these up in your answer.