A couple of days ago I was reading this interesting article from a recent MA journalism graduate, about his experiences of gaining work in the field: http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-blog/journalist-job-market
The comments that really stood out to me were these:
"I wish I had spent more time going through job vacancies while still on my course, to see what skills are paramount for jobs that I would apply for down the line, so that I could start plugging the gaps while at university itself."
This just shows how you can use job vacancies creatively. There's no need to wait until you actually want to apply for jobs; if you know what sort of role you're looking for, then you can use job adverts at any stage work out what sort of skills employers in that field are looking for.
Here are some other creative ways you can use job advertisements:
1. Use them as a basis for speculative applications
Seen a job as Chief Editor at a publication you'd really love to work for? Feel you haven't got the experience yet? It may still be worth contacting the organisation to see if they have any more junior roles available, or if they would be prepared to offer s short internship. The job advert will make you aware of the company, and the fact that they are currently recruiting.
2. Find out about typical salaries
Browsing jobs in a particular sector will give you a good idea of salaries in that field. This will help you to decide whether the roles are realistic options for you, and help you know where to pitch in any salary negotiations.
3. Find out about employers' expectations
The person specifications for roles you are interested in are a mine of information. If several are mentioning a very specific skill, for example knowledge of a particular piece of software, then this is a sign that that may be something you need to brush up on.
So there you have it, job advertisements are not just for when you want to apply for that particular job...they can have other uses too.