Analysing Adverts for the Creative Response

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The fundamental rule is: if you are going to apply for advertised jobs then only apply for the right ones. Don't waste time by applying for the ones you've no chance of getting; not only is your time lost but your morale will suffer if you keep getting rejections. Analysing adverts thoughtfully saves you more than just time.

When you are looking for a new job, particularly if you don't currently have one, it's too easy to be 'busy' by spending your time on the wrong things.

For example one day, I observed one of my students reading a well known Daily Newspaper which on this particular Thursday had around 40 pages of display adverts. As he read through, it became clear to me that although there were so many ads, there really wasn't anything suitable for him. However when he reached the end of the jobs section without marking or copying any of the vacancies, he went right back to the beginning and re-read the whole section until he found something he could apply for.

Then he sat back with a look of satisfaction because he could now say he'd found something to apply for and get on with an application.

In fact he'd wasted all that time, the job wasn't suitable but he felt as though he'd been busy and had something to show for it. When the "no thanks" letter arrived it just deepened his desperation.

So what should you do?

Look very carefully at each advert that is of interest and read it several times until you get the feel of what's being said.

When you have that feel, try to read between the lines to deduce if there is one 'crucial' need or if there is anything else you could infer from their words. It's also useful to read it critically and ask "have they missed anything out" that could affect your suitability.

Now you've worked out what it's all about, take a highlighter pen and mark every clause or phrase where they state what their actual requirement is.

You should read carefully to see if these needs are 'essential' or merely 'desirable'.

I'll show you the difference below.

The essential requirements form the backbone of the job and you should be able to meet more than 60% if you are to be considered.

The desirables are nice-to-haves and the more of these you meet the better, but they are not the main issue.

If you still see a good match, go ahead and draft your response letter. You should try to follow their style of writing by using similar phrases and words but don't just regurgitate their ad back to them.

When you look at the advert some phrases will stand out:

"it is essential that you?" is a bit of a giveaway,

or "you must have?"

or "you will have?"

all shout 'essential' at you so look for similar phrases to match yourself against.

Others are not so firm and may say:

"you should have?"

or "some knowledge of?"

or "ideally?".

These are all saying 'desirable' but not essential.

Now I mentioned that you should look for the 'crucial' need ? if there is one and you don't have it, then don't proceed, this one is the killer and will knock you straight out.

If you do have it?

Make sure it's the first thing you mention in your response.

That says "this candidate understands what we need".

Now you're ready to write your letter you must make sure you can grab their attention. See my website for how to write compelling cover letters that demand attention, show how you meet their needs with an enthusiastic, positive and reassuring letter that expects action.

You will quickly find that analysing adverts becomes second nature, and you will know exactly how to demonstrate the match. But don't ignore the other things ? please make sure you follow all the instructions i.e. reference number, closing date, enclose CV, give salary details.

If you don't do this you still might find yourself knocked out just for being careless.

Analysing adverts is more art than science but if you approach it honestly you'll find more time to do other productive things such as networking with the time you've saved.

Analysing adverts is made so much easier when you fully know yourself and what you can do.

Peter Fisher
With his background of over 25 years running businesses, and as a Career Coach and Consultant in many sectors, Peter Fisher is well placed to guide job seekers through the steps needed in order to achieve that all important new position. He has personally coached thousands of individuals to career success.

He writes a distillation of these years of experience with all the essential facts and actions you must complete in order to achieve your own success. He is very clear that you shouldn't be misled by others into thinking of "acing interviews" or "finessing" your way into a business; the most sustainable and fulfilling roles are gained through understanding your own specific needs and creating your strategy accordingly.

For specific guidance and how you can learn to analyse adverts and write compelling cover letters go to

You can learn more about his dynamic and comprehensive approach to career change, with every page dedicated to helping serious career changers if you go to

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