The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reports the most effective methods for attracting candidates are still corporate websites and recruitment agencies, with a marked increase in the use of professional online sites, such as LinkedIn, at a time when job boards and traditional press advertising are declining.

According to the Institute of Recruitment Professionals, REC, “If you’re still relying on job boards to recruit, you’re missing out on a potentially lucrative means of securing top candidates. Social recruitment has become a significant means of advertising jobs and finding candidates.” 

If your organisation is not capitalising on social media, it’s time to start. Eight out of ten recruiters use social media to source candidates, with LinkedIn as their favourite, according to REC.

Some vacancies are ‘hidden’ when employers rely on informal recruitment methods, such as asking existing employees if they know anyone who may be interested in the position. This is increasingly recognised as an effective way (not least in terms of cost) of attracting candidates via people’s acquaintances in the same field or range of professional network contacts. This approach is also known as ‘professional referral schemes’. However, such schemes can have an adverse effect of the diversity of your workforce. 

Employer brand will play its role in this and can be boosted by using company websites to communicate the vision, values and culture of an organisation rather than just list ‘latest vacancies’.

Operating an effective internal labour market – encouraging existing employees to apply for posts – will increase the chance to develop new skills, experience and promotion opportunities. Developing an internal labour market also has the benefits of building engagement and promoting the employer brand.

Creating a job advertisement

A strong opening statement or heading will capture attention in print or digitally, ideally highlighting the role’s most attractive features, and the tone of the advert should reflect the organisation’s brand identity. As pay and benefits are the key aspects candidates look for when considering a role it makes sense to be open about the salary band when advertising unless there are particular reasons for not being so.

Job adverts must also be legal: the Equality Act prohibits discrimination, and it is illegal to specify that people of one gender, age group, with a disability, of a particular sexual orientation, married, or those from a particular racial or religious group need not apply (unless an occupational requirement applies).

You must not:

  • use job titles or descriptions which suggest an intention to discriminate, e.g. mature person, young and dynamic
  • use visual images that suggest an intention to discriminate, e.g. only women or only men, unless an occupational requirement applies; consistently showing one race only in adverts is also not best practice
  • indirectly discriminate by including requirements that would exclude a  proportion of the population – e.g. “all candidates must be over six feet tall” would rule out more women than men.

Note that the overall visual impact of an advertisement is considered when assessing whether there is an intention to discriminate.