How Reading Comprehension Strategies Can Help You At Your Workplace

Star students demonstrate excellent reading comprehension skills. Guess what? Star job applicants do, too.

You don’t have to be born with great reading comprehension skills. It’s something you can pick up and practice, and there are specific strategies for developing this skill. Here are 3 reading comprehension strategies that you can apply to your job hunt.

Applying background knowledge

Readers who connect new concepts to their existing knowledge (known as their schema) grasp new concepts faster. We often draw examples from books, TV shows, and memories to understand an idea or explain it to someone else.

Background knowledge is helpful during the job hunt, but you’ll have to take some time to specialize your schema. Before completing your application and hitting “submit”, tailor your resume and response to the company.

How do you do this? You build up your store of background knowledge by researching the company. Learn what the company’s brand values, mission statement, and strategic goals are to understand what kind of candidate they want and then weave these components into your cover letter and resume.

During the job interview, you’ll be quick on your feet answering questions if you have a specialized schema you can draw from.

Summarizing

Information is easier to retain once it’s broken down to its main points. A middle school student learning about the cell cycle doesn't need a graduate-school level understanding of mitosis.

On a test with a four-point question asking to describe the phases of mitosis, all he or she needs to do is summarize the process by listing the four phases: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. It's a complex process, but the context (a middle school test) doesn't call for a complex answer.

The same goes for your job application. Details about your prior experience are valuable, but they may not be relevant for a particular job. Worse, they may distract the person reviewing your resume from the points that are relevant. Someone who can effectively summarize would:

  • Review the job posting
  • Read over their existing resume
  • Summarize the sections from their resume relevant to the job while writing their cover letter and updating their resume
  • Eliminate unnecessary details

Effective summarizing is even more important during the actual interview. Someone who rambles appears disorganized and unfocused. A good summarizer can intelligently answer questions by touching on the main points without losing the interviewer’s attention.

Asking questions

People with good reading comprehension skills ask questions while they read. Their goal is to understand the text, not just finish it. If there’s a word they don’t understand, they look it up or write it down to look up later. If they don’t fully understand something, they ask someone else or conduct additional research until the concept is clear.

Job postings look more intimidating than they are. In fact, some candidates rule themselves out with the assumption that they aren’t qualified. Others carefully read postings and look up terms they’re unfamiliar with.

Consider, for example, a marketing job post that asks someone to be familiar with “SaaS marketing”. The acronym looks more intimidating than it is. A candidate who asks, “Well, what is SaaS?” instead of eliminating themselves from the running would find that “SaaS” simply stands for “Service as a Software”.

They’d then find numerous articles and resources for how exactly SaaS marketing works. Someone with a communications degree and experience in product marketing is more than capable of applying their existing knowledge to understand this concept.

They might ask questions like:

  • What are the similarities and differences between product marketing and SaaS marketing?
  • How can I leverage my past experience to demonstrate my ability to run a successful SaaS marketing campaign even though I have no experience in this area?

During the interview, the ability to ask questions is important for obvious reasons. Listening carefully to the interviewer and posing smart questions demonstrates your engagement and conscientiousness.

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