What you can and can’t say in a job advert

You can’t just say whatever you like in a job advert because you could find yourself breaking discrimination laws. Job adverts will be illegal if they discourage a certain group of people from applying. For example:

‘Salesman wanted...’

This is gender bias because the word ‘man’ excludes women. In this case it would be much better to say ‘salesperson’ or make it very clear in the advert that both men and women can apply.

Another example of discrimination in an advert is:

‘Single professional sought...’

This is illegal because it discriminates against married people.

Employers should bear in mind the following list when wording their job advert:

  • Never refer to ‘young graduates’ or ‘bright young thing’ or ‘mature applicant’ as they are all ageist.
  • You should always put adverts in publications that will reach the widest spectrum of people and don’t exclude men or women or a particular racial group.
  • Don’t stereotype men and women in a job advert.
  • Be careful about recruiting by word of mouth as this could restrict members of a certain race or sex.
  • Never make the length of residence in, or experience of, the UK a requirement of the job.
  • If a qualification is essential to the job, then don’t restrict it to a UK qualification.
  • You must not state or imply that a job is unsuitable for a disabled person unless there is a very clear job-related reason.
  • You must not state or imply that reasonable adjustments will not be made for a disabled person unless there is a very clear job-related reason.

Now you know what you should avoid putting in an advert. But what sort of things can you put in?

What to include in a job advert 

It’s important to have a written job description. You can use this to specify the most important duties and requirements of the post and use it to form the basis of your advert. The advert should include:

  • The qualifications and experience required
  • Any specific skills required
  • Experience with specific equipment
  • The salary and benefits offered
  • The person to contact
  • The required references


When you can discriminate legally in a job advert

It's possible to legally discriminate in a job advert, if it’s a requirement of the job that the applicant is from a certain group; for example, only over 18s can sell alcohol.

You should consider including in your advert a statement of commitment to equal opportunities. This will show that you welcome applicants from all sections of the community.

If you want more in-depth expert information - from an employment lawyer - on how to employ someone, then read our guide Employment Law Made Easy. Packed with tips and expert advice on complying with employment legislation.

Other information


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Published on: December 19, 2012

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