Understanding What's Important from the Job Advertisement

Not all criteria of an advertisement have to be fulfilled for an application to be promising. As a guideline, provided there are no exclusion criteria that you do not meet, 60% of the requirements should apply to you. By interpreting the wording of job advertisements correctly, you can assess at an early stage when an application makes sense - and when it does not.

We explain which formulations in job advertisements mean what.

Essential and optional formulations

We expect.../Requirements are.../You have.../....requirements/...are required.

Terms that are paraphrased with these phrases have a highlighted meaning. This does not yet mean that there is no point in applying if you do not meet any of them. 60% of the relevant items should apply to you. If you do not meet more of them or clearly formulated exclusion criteria, better invest the time in further job and employer research.

you have.../or comparable.../ideally.../advantageous are.../...are desired.

Terms used with these phrases are "nice to have", but are not a deciding criteria. However, it is also possible that only such soft formulations are used - for example, if generalists rather than specialists are sought. The exact evaluation of individual essential and optional formulations is generally only possible from the context.

Job title

While students of technical and business subjects can quickly identify suitable keywords in job boards with their subject disciplines, job titles pose a major challenge, especially for the humanities and social sciences.

Job titles say little about who is specifically suited for a position. Suitability here can only be verified individually by the requirements and activities.
Typical formulations in job advertisements that are suitable for students in the humanities and social sciences are, for example, Mitarbeiter (m/f/d) or Referent (m/f/d). Terms such as editor (m/f/d) or lecturer (m/f/d) that can also be found suggest a direction that is being sought, but it is only possible to decide who is suitable on the basis of the requirements and activities. Such job titles are unsuitable for the specific search for jobs.

Work experience

It is neither advisable to put aside immediately as a young professional:in all advertisements with the word work experience, nor to apply directly.

      • The word professional experience as such means that practical connecting factors must be present. Depending on the context, this can also be experience gained alongside studies, such as part-time jobs, social commitment and internships.
      • "Initial work experience" can almost always be demonstrated by suitable practical experience during studies.
      • If "several years of professional experience" is required in a field, long-term practical experience should have been gained in this field during your studies, for example a longer internship followed by one or two years of freelance work.
      • The more the other requirements correspond to your previous activities, the more likely you are to apply for positions with "several years of professional experience" or "at least x years of professional experience".
      • Without convincing points of connection through experience and knowledge.
      • If the tasks include personnel responsibility, budget responsibility and/or a coordination function of several different areas.
      • If words such as Head:in, Managing Director:in or Senior XY (m/f) already appear in the position description.
      • If "several years or many years of professional experience" is required in a special area that cannot be covered by students.


      The required field of study should only be seen as a guideline, especially if several terms are to be found. These aspects should be taken into account when reviewing job advertisements:

      • The subject studied rarely plays a role outside of academia. Terms such as sociology, German studies or Romance studies do not appear in job offers.
      • Generic terms such as humanities / social sciences / social sciences are open terms for employers to use arbitrarily.
      • Listings of several subjects do not mean that applications may only be made from these subjects.



      Job advertisements from science and research clearly state the required degree.

      Otherwise, the exact terminology of the degree plays a subordinate role. The terms master's and bachelor's rarely appear in job advertisements. If the term bachelor appears, it is usually used as a synonym for expiring degrees such as Diplom-Ingenieur:in (FH) or Diplom-Bibliothekar:in (FH).