Hiring someone

How to advertise a job

According to the law, you cannot usually refer to ‘protected characteristics' (such as a person's sex or race) in a job advert.

Examples that could be discriminating unfairly against protected characteristics include:

  • terms like 'recent graduate' or 'highly experienced' – these can discriminate against age (you must be able to prove you have a good reason for any job requirement in your advert)
  • terms like 'barmaid' or 'handyman' – these can discriminate against someone’s sex
  • language requirements  – ‘German sales rep’ could discriminate against race, so 'German-speaking sales rep’ would be more appropriate
  • clothing requirements, for example wearing a hairnet in a kitchen could discriminate against someone who for religious reasons covers their head in other ways

Describe what the job involves

To make clear what the job requires and help avoid unintended discrimination, it’s a good idea to provide the following:

  • job description
  • job application form
  • person specification
  • information about your business
  • equality and diversity monitoring form

They should be provided as part of your advert or once you’ve received applications.

You can use our templates for hiring staff to help you. The templates include examples of how to write clear and specific job and person requirements. They will also make it easier to assess the applications you get and choose who to interview. 

Tell applicants what you’ll need from them

You should also provide information that tells applicants about anything else you’ll need from them, such as:

  • proof that they have the right to work in the UK
  • whether they'll need a reference
  • whether the person who gets the job will need a health check before they start work
Your business could be fined up to £20,000 if you do not check that the person you hire is allowed to work in the UK. Find out more about the right to work in the UK on GOV.UK.

Check that forms do not discriminate. For example, stating that the applicant must fill out the job application form in their own handwriting may discriminate against people with dyslexia, if handwritten English is not crucial to the job.

Protecting applicants' personal information

You need to tell applicants how you'll use their personal information. Find out more about protecting personal information on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

Check your advert reaches a wide range of people

It’s a good idea to advertise in at least 2 channels. For example, in a newspaper and on a jobs website. This helps you:

Consider whether the channels you use reach a diverse range of people. For example, if you only use social media to advertise the job you could miss out on applicants who do not use it.

Advertising on the internet

You could be discriminating if the only job advert you use on the internet is a targeted one. A targeted job advert can only be seen by specific groups of people. For example, you put an advert on a social media site such as Facebook, and only make it visible to users in a certain age group.