How to Decipher a Job Posting

How to Interpret a Job Posting - Style Nine to Five

I remember once sitting down to an interview for a company I desperately wanted to join. The role was for a very well-known Canadian fashion brand I had wanted to work with since I was a junior in high school. I also remember exactly how the hiring manager began the interview.

She started off by asking me if I understood the role of the job based on the description, followed by an apology regarding how poorly the expectations of the role were laid out in the original job post. She then proceeded to explain the expectations of the role as she saw them.

It is not uncommon for job postings to be cryptic. This can be especially true at larger organizations where job postings are crafted by someone in HR who doesn’t fully understand the scope of the role. You are not always going to be as lucky as me to get a hiring manager who recognizes this and provides you with more clarity before your interview.

It’s also a good idea to know what you’re applying for before you apply. So, let’s discuss what you can do to decipher cryptic job postings.

Fashion Jobs in Canada - Style Nine to Five

Google is Your Best Friend

There is a whole world of knowledge at your fingertips. If you’re applying for a new role with confusing or vague language, consider typing the title into a search engine to see what tasks typically fall under the responsibility of the position.

Read Other Job Postings

Take a look on job boards, like Style Nine to Five, for other similar job postings. The language and content for other positions may be more clear and give you a better understanding. Read a few of them to gain a comprehensive picture of what is typically expected of this title.


Similar to the above point, you can also peruse LinkedIn for people currently in the role. Find out how they describe their experience and day to day in the position. It can be especially helpful if you can find the person, or people who hold the position (or previously held the position) you are applying for at the same organization.

Find A Mentor

A mentor can come in handy in these instances. Someone with enough experience in your industry, or similar roles can help to tease out the important parts of a jargon-heavy job posting. They can also offer insight into what you should likely expect from a role with a certain title, or pay grade.

Remember, it can be difficult to distill an entire role into a job description. So keep an open mind about what might be expected of you if you are hired. You can also feel free during your job interview to ask questions and request clarification on any wording that is confusing or generic.

If a job role still seems unclear after your own research, consider reaching out to Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr, through the Ask A Career Question service. Her experience and expertise can help to demystify any confusing language in a job description.

Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock