Break down a job description

So you’ve poured through Second Day’s job board and picked out a few golden opportunities. What now? Let’s get some basics straight: This guide includes suggestions on how to analyze a job description, write a cover letter, structure a resume, and touches on first-round interview pointers.

For the sake of clarity, let’s dive into a (fantastical) example. You’ve found a great entry level role (0-3 years of experience): Associate Auror at the Ministry of Magic. Second Day’s job posting highlighted four key skill areas— Research, Marketing, Partnerships, Communication— and based on your experience and interests, this role seems like a great fit from the get-go. (Only have direct experience with 2 or 3 of those categories? Stick with us!).

Let’s review the job description— hopefully you’ll find this exercise provides some insight on how to navigate the job description and cover letter drafting process. Below are the responsibilities of the Associate Auror role outlined by the Ministry of Magic. We’ve included annotations of how we would interpret this job description and position ourselves for the role. This practice will help you with everything from cover letter writing to interview prep.

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An Associate Aurror's main responsibility is bringing in more partners in the magical community to support our network of Aurors as they combat the efforts of dark witches and wizards.


  • Creatively lead Ministry’s efforts to attract partners in the magical community, iterating on previous strategies and thoughtfully testing new ideas and approachesKeywords here: Community-based partners and attracting (recruiting) new partners. How have you been engaged with local community networks before, and do you have experience bringing people or teams together through your on-campus job or volunteer experience? Consider crafting a “nugget”— a succinct anecdote that shows your relevant skills, rather than “telling” or listing off your strengths.

  • Coordinate marketing efforts to reach new potential partners, in collaboration with the Ministry's marketing and technology teamsThink back to your internship— were you involved in any social media marketing strategies, and have you collaborated cross-functionally (with designers, developers, analysts?).

  • Follow-up with potential partners en masse over owl and individually as needed to help them understand the onboarding process and successfully partner with the Ministry of MagicThis is checking for follow-through: Show how you are organized and diligent, and recognize the value of crossing all your T’s and dotting your I’s. If you’re still reading this, it should be a no-brainer!

  • Provide 1-on-1 consultation and quarterly "fireside chats" for potential partners

  • Support the communications, training, and community building for new magical partnersDo you have any customer interaction or support experience? Even working behind the counter at your local cafe could speak to your ability to engage with partners through a supportive dynamic.

  • Represent the Ministry at magical networking eventsDo you have any experiences with student organizations where you helped bring in new members or grow the organization? This could be a great example to cite!

  • Carry out additional tasks in support of the Ministry’s mission and in support of its magical partners — These last few items suggest this role calls for a team player: Someone who can jump into different support roles, lend a hand, do some behind-the-scenes work to keep things flowing seamlessly, and find purpose in seemingly small tasks. Does this sound like you?


  • 0-3 years experience in marketing, sales, communications, international development, or related field.

  • Excellent oral and written interpersonal and communications skills, particularly cross-cultural and web-based.

  • Experience in or an affinity for building communities, either in person or online.

  • Comfort working within and improving systems; strong operational orientation.

  • Comfort with technology as a power user and as a contributor to improvements in design and usability of web-based user interfaces.

  • Excellent organizational skills, creativity, and flexibility; ability to multi-task under a deadline, with great productivity and attention to detail.

  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment.

  • Strong alignment with and commitment to living the Ministry’s core values.

The above section is helpful as a loose profile of who the Ministry is looking for, but doesn’t require a line-by-line analysis. Review the following and check with yourself: does this candidate sound like you? Are you stretching yourself to fit, or are you overflowing with anecdotes and examples that aligns you with their description? If you’re more excited with each new sentence, be sure to convey this fit through original examples.  

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Continue to “Writing a Cover Letter”

Continue to “Writing a Cover Letter”