Advertising agencies aren't often employed to create interesting concepts for job adverts and it is easy to forget that, just like any other advertisement, job ads must abide by the rules of the CAP Code (the Code). In fact, there is a whole section of the Code dedicated to marketing communications for employment, business opportunities and homeworking schemes as well as online advice on recruitment and business opportunity advertising.
The ASA has recently published some updated guidance on getting job advertisements right. We have summarised the key takeaways and how to avoid the potential pitfalls below.
The ASA itself admits that it does not receive huge numbers of complaints about job adverts. Those that it does receive tend to be on the grounds of misleadingness due to omission or ambiguity.
To ensure a job advertisement doesn't fall into this category, prospective employers should make sure all material information is included in the advert, so that a potential candidate can make a truly informed decision about whether or not to apply for the role. For example:
- Information on salary, location or working hours should be included if the advert would be misleading without it; and
- Details on the type of role being advertised and whether the role is permanent or temporary (CAP Code rule 20.3) should also be included, as should information on whether the role is voluntary/unpaid (see the ASA ruling against Model Advice Ltd and CAP Code rule 20.2).
Have evidence ready
The ASA appreciates there will be an element of "puffery" in job advertisements as employers want their organisation and the position they are advertising to appeal. However when doing so, employers must be careful not to go too far. Just like in other forms of advertising, there is a requirement for the advertiser to have the necessary evidence to back up any objective claims they make (CAP Code rule 3.7). For example:
- If the advertisement quotes an expected salary, this needs to be an actual representation of what the candidate could achieve. In 2018, the ASA ruled against an ad by Vanguard Marketing Ltd, which did not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the salary claims they made. This is particularly important when advertising roles with 'option to earn' or OTE salaries quoted.
- The role advertised needs to be a genuine employment opportunity. For example, advertising training opportunities as employment is likely to be misleading, as demonstrated by the ASA's previous rulings against Developing Your Potential Recruitment Ltd and Netcom Training Ltd.
- The ’employment’ must also not be merely an opportunity for potential candidates to register their interest or obtain further information. The ASA previously ruled against Cerco IT Training and Recruitment when Cerco’s advert implied that roles were available to successful candidates, when in fact they were added to Cerco’s pool of potential candidates and would not go on to gain immediate employment in the role advertised.
Key to remember, alongside the specific guidance, is that advertising for employment is still advertising, and just as with all ads, above all else job advertisements must be legal, decent, honest and truthful – and the job advertised exist.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.