Can You Decode the Six Keywords in The Secret Language of Job Postings?

Can You Decode the Six Keywords in The Secret Language of Job Postings?

Martin Yate, CPC

Understanding the secret language of job postings can supercharge your resume, your cover letters and will help you turn job interviews into job offers. There are six key words and phrases that you see in almost every job posting: communication skills, multitasking, teamwork, creativity, problem solving, and leadership. They are so commonly used that they are often dismissed as meaningless. Far from being meaningless, they represent a secret language that few job hunters understand. The ones who do “get it” are also the ones who get the job offers.

That is because these six key phrases represent the very skills that power success, they represent six specific transferable skills that enable you to do your job well, whatever your job may be. They are known as transferable skills because no matter what the job, the profession, or the elevation of that job, your possession of these skills can make the difference between success and failure.

Decoding made easy

For example, when problem solving skills are mentioned in a job posting, it means the employer is looking for someone who knows his or her area of responsibility well enough to identify, prevent where possible, and solve the problems that the job generates on a daily basis. The employer wants someone who has thought through, and can discuss the challenges that lie at the heart of that job and who has developed intelligent strategies and tactics in response.

Another example would be teamwork. Think through how a job-posting requirement for this applies to your job, consider which deliverables of your work require you to interact with other people and other departments to get your work done. For example, one topic an accountant working in Accounts Receivable will think about are problem accounts and how they can require working with sales and the non-paying customer, as well as working laterally and upwards within the Accounting department.

Teamwork also embraces other transferable skills, for instance the communication skills you need to work effectively with others. You understand that talk of communication always refers to verbal, written, and listening skills, but do you know that to an employer it also refers to the supporting communication skills of: digital communication literacy, dress, body language, social graces, and emotional maturity. Together, these eight components of effective communication impact the power and persuasiveness of all your interactions with others.

When you relate each of the transferable skills to each of your professional responsibilities, you’ll discover the secrets to success in your profession. When you express your possession of them in your resume and cover letters, you can dramatically increase interviews. When you understand how these skills impact every action you take with every responsibility you hold, and you can explain to interviewers how you integrate these skills into all you do, you become a more desirable employee and colleague.

In your resume

You might decide to highlight special achievements with a Performance Highlights or a Career Highlights . This is usually a short sequence of bulleted statements, each addressing one of the company’s stated requirements and thereby emphasizing the fit between employer needs and your capabilities. Illustrate with an example if you can do so succinctly:


Performance Highlights

35% increase in on-time delivery + 20% reduction in client complaints

Effective Operations Management demands understanding of every department’s unique problems and timelines. Building these considerations into daily activities, helped:

  • Finance & Supply Chain saved $55,000 in last three quarters.
  • Increased productivity with a 35% increase in on-time delivery. These on-time delivery increases achieved with improved communications, connecting Purchasing, Supply Chain, Customers and Customer Service
  • Delivered 20% reduction in client complaints.


In a cover letter

Where there is more space, these same achievements might appear with the company’s requirement above:

  • Problem-solving skills - Thorough knowledge of the problems that impact productivity in Operations enabled a 35% increase in on-time delivery.
  • Work closely with others - Improvements in on-time delivery made possible by Improved communications with Purchasing, Supply Chain, Customers and Customer Service. This delivered a 20% reduction in client complaints.
  • Multitasking - Effective Operations Management demands understanding of every department’s critical functions and timelines. Building these considerations into daily activities helped Finance & Supply Chain save $55,000 in last three quarters.

In your life

Every time you see a job posting use the six transferable skill key words and phrases, think how that skill is applied in each aspect of your work. Then recall examples that illustrate how you used that skill in the identification, prevention, and solution of the daily problems that get in the way of the smooth functioning of your job. 

Understanding the secret language of job postings will do more than help you land that next step, it can change your destiny, when you apply that understanding to your professional life.

Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.

Career Topics