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How to write an effective and fair job advert

In this step, CIPD share their top tips for advertising a role.

Avoiding discrimination

When looking for new people to join an organisation HR have a responsibility to ensure the hiring avoids discriminating against all employees and potential job applicants.

Aside from the fact that discriminating is the wrong thing to do and is bad for people, organisations and societies, each country will have its own laws governing how employers must avoid such discrimination, including what can and cannot be put into a job description or a person specification.

For example, in the UK this is governed by the Equality Act 2010. The characteristics protected under this Act are:
  • age;
  • disability;
  • gender reassignment;
  • marriage and civil partnership;
  • pregnancy and maternity;
  • race;
  • religion or belief;
  • sex; and
  • sexual orientation.

Top tips for advertising a role

1. Overselling or underselling
Avoid adverts promoting the best parts of the role too heavily or alternatively focusing too much on the detail. The candidate needs to get a clear picture of the role and misinformation during recruitment can lead to dissatisfaction if the job turns out to be different from expected.
2. Vague terminology
The easier it is to understand the job, the more likely you are to receive suitable applications. Make sure your description of duties is clear and avoid terms such as ‘hard working’ or ‘lively’ as these can be interpreted differently.
3. Qualifications
Ensure that the qualifications asked for are relevant and at an appropriate level for the job. For example, requiring a degree for an administrative job is probably not relevant and would stop suitable candidates from applying.
4. Acronyms and jargon
Acronyms and technical terminology can be confusing and can exclude candidates from outside the organisation or sector. Avoid using them or make sure you explain what they mean.
5. Immeasurable criteria
A manager needs to be able to judge whether criteria have been met, so they need to be measurable. For example ‘a good sense of humour’ could seem fine but how will you measure it? What’s funny to one person may not be to another.

Some examples

Now that we’ve explored good practice in recruitment and looked at some tips on creating clear and balanced advertisements. Let’s take a look at some examples. Some of the clips below are examples of good job advertisements and some have fallen into the pitfalls mentioned above and should be modified.
Before you go ahead read through each advertisement and consider whether it is suitable or whether it should be changed and if so, why.
  • Office administrative assistant: minimum 5 GCSEs required.
  • Customer service advisor: must have 2-3 years experience.
  • Fashion retail sales assistant required: aged 18-25 years.
  • Trainee recruitment consultant: must be a recent graduate.
  • Post office assistant: must be physically fit.

Now let’s see some things to consider from the examples above:

Office administrative assistant – Minimum 5 GCSEs required This is a risky requirement to specify as it may mean that older candidates or those born outside the UK who do not have these qualifications are excluded.
Customer service advisors – Must have at least 2-3 years’ experience Specifying a number of years of experience is hard to justify for this role. A better approach would be to state the actual skills required such as being able to answer a high volume of calls in a professional and polite manner, excellent questioning ability, accurate data entry skills with excellent attention to detail.
Fashion retail sales assistants required aged 18 – 25 This is directly discriminatory and subject to the test of objective justification. The employer would have to show that the age requirement is objectively justified.
Trainee recruitment consultant – Must be recent graduate Employers should not require applicants to be recent graduates. It is possible to specify that a graduate is required, but employers must ensure that a degree is really a necessary requirement for the position. Relevant practical experience or other qualifications may be sufficient.
Post office administrative assistant – Must be physically fit Specifying ‘physical fitness’ may discriminate against disabled applicants. Even specifications such as ‘must hold a clean driving licence’ may discriminate against the less able bodied. Employers should consider if the requirement to drive is infrequent, would any applicant, especially the disabled, be able to undertake these duties by public transport?
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