Understanding a Job Posting

Every employer looks at résumés differently—why should it be a secret? Understanding how our job postings work will help you highlight the information we look for.

All of our job postings have a similar format.

  • Duties describe the work the person hired will perform.
  • Qualifications are the skills, knowledge and background needed for the position.
  • Specialty Statements let you know any other information you may need to know about the job, such as if it requires travel, end date for term positions, and equipment the successful candidate will need to supply.

Your chances of getting an interview are improved if you tailor your application to the posting. Here is a fictional posting for an astronaut that we’ll use to demonstrate how a job seeker can tailor his or her résumé.

Walk through a posting

Astronaut 2 (Mission Support)
Department of Science and Technology
Space Exploration Program
Please quote Competition #NCC-1701A-CB

Working closely with the Shuttle Engineer, the Astronaut 2 (Mission Support) is responsible for supporting the maintenance and repair of flight systems during space exploration missions. The Astronaut 2 performs daily checks and routine maintenance while in flight, and will support the Engineer in the diagnosis and repair of equipment. The Astronaut 2 will participate in extravehicular activities (space walks). As the shuttle operates with a limited crew, all crew members provide support and assistance to other functions as needed.

A Master’s degree in engineering, mathematics, physics, or computer science , or a Bachelor’s degree in one of these fields and one year’s related experience , or an acceptable equivalent combination of education and experience. The successful candidate works well in stressful environments and must have excellent interpersonal and problem solving skills. First aid training (including CPR) and a detailed knowledge of shuttle systems are required. Experience piloting aircraft is considered an asset.

Specialty Statement:
The successful candidate must be able to pass a physical examination and vision acuity test. This position requires that the successful candidate be available for regular shuttle missions of up to six weeks’ duration.

Download full posting

Patricia used the description to figure out which of her past jobs might count as related experience for the positon of Astronaut 2 (mission control). She listed similar duties on her résumé so the Hiring Manager can also see the connections and similarities from her previous experience.

Patricia is still a student; however, she will graduate before the job starts. So she listed her anticipated graduation date to show that she will have the education she needs to work as an Astronaut 2.

Communication skills or working well in stressful environments are considered soft skills that can’t be judged on a résumé. They are more likely items you could discuss at a job interview.

Patricia listed these skills on her résumé anyway, and there is no harm in including them. When in doubt, it’s probably a good idea to mention a skill or experience you don’t need to include rather than miss one that you do.

These are the qualifications the Hiring Manager is looking for. Patricia made sure she mentioned as many as possible on her résumé under her listed skills and in bullet points describing her previous experience.

You will notice some qualifications are listed as “preferred” or “an asset.” This means that you don’t necessarily need these qualifications to land the job. However Patricia has them and she knows listing them will give her an edge in the job competition.


  • Make sure you list the months and years on your past jobs so it's easy to count how many months' experience you have.
  • Use the same wording as the posting whenever you can — it makes it easier for the Hiring Manager to see how well your qualifications match the position.

What should my résumé say?

Now that we've seen how Patricia interpreted the posting, let's look at how she put it into practice in an effective résumé.

See Patricia's résumé
How to prepare a great résumé

How do I apply?

Please visit jobs.novascotia.ca

Please note: unless otherwise indicated in the posting, all competitions close at midnight. If you do not submit your application before midnight, the system will not accept it.