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Recruitment advertising


The procedure to advertise recruitment can be complicated for employers to approach. However, getting this process right is essential if a recruitment exercise is to be cost-effective and attract the right quality of applicants.

Before starting to advertise recruitment, employers should organise and plan their approach, carefully considering the content and the design of the job advert and the most appropriate time to publish it. They should also identify the most suitable media for advertising the job in order to reach an appropriate audience.

Key points

  • Preparing a job description and person specification can provide a useful basis for designing a job advertisement to advertise recruitment.
  • All forms of job advert are covered by the Equality Act 2010.
  • Employers must not publish adverts that indicate, or could reasonably indicate, an intention to discriminate.
  • Adverts should contain enough information about the job and the organisation to help applicants decide if they are suited to the job.
  • Adverts must not target applicants with a particular protected characteristic, unless this is an occupational requirement or lawful positive action.
  • Positive action may be used to encourage applications from under-represented groups.
  • Relying upon 'word of mouth' recruitment has the potential to indirectly discriminate.
  • Employers may be liable for the discriminatory actions of third parties, who are advertising on their behalf.
  • Employers must not put pressure on third parties to discriminate in the recruitment process.
  • Employers must provide temporary agency workers/fixed term employees with information on relevant job vacancies.
Asking recruits to be 'happy' is not discrimination

The DWP has conceded that it was wrong to advise a hair salon to take down a job description which required recruits to be ‘happy’.

The situation arose when Alison Birch, the owner of a unisex hair salon, advertised for a new staff member through the Find a Job service, a website for the advertising of new roles. The advert was asking for a part-time hairdresser who was expected to be fully qualified, have previous experience working in a salon and, crucially, that only ‘happy, friendly’ stylists should apply. However, she was later contacted by the site, who informed her that the requirement to be 'happy' was discriminatory. 

The DWP have since retracted this, confirming that, in this situation, the requirement to be 'happy' did not serve to discriminate against recruits. 

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