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'Vague' job adverts wasting time and money, says Citizens' Advice

Most job adverts are not clear enough to meet Advertising Standards Authority requirements, according to Citizens' Advice. It says lack of essential information is costing jobseekers time and businesses money.

The charity has called on recruitment websites to enforce minimum standards of information in the ads they post.

Citizens' Advice's June 2015 research into 800 online adverts found 40% were unclear about whether the job was full or part-time, 40 did not specify whether the job was temporary or permanent, 20% made no mention of salary and one in 10 left applicants wondering whether they were applying to an employer or an agency.

Unsuitable applications

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens' Advice, said: "Vague job ads risk wasting people's time and business's money. People seeking employment face a real challenge if job adverts don't even tell them if they'll earn enough to keep a roof over their head. Applying for jobs where hours and pay are unclear consumes valuable hours of job hunting time.

"Employers can also have their time wasted as they may then receive high numbers of unsuitable applications. This can be an inefficient recruitment process, meaning they're less likely to get the best person for the job.

"Requiring recruiters posting job adverts to include a minimum standard of information would help people decide whether to apply for a role. Employers would also benefit from a better matched pool of applicants."

Acas guidance

The new Acas pdf icon Recruiting staff guide [360kb] gives clear advice for employers when advertising vacancies:

  • Does the advertisement convey the organisation's image and appear eye-catching?
  • Is it easily understood and to the point?
  • Make sure it includes the job title and main aspects of the role including pay, location and type of contract (for example, is it permanent or fixed term?). Where space permits, cover qualities, skills and knowledge essential for the post and career prospects.
  • State how applicants should apply, and give a contact name, phone number and/or email address if an applicant would like additional information or has queries.
  • Give a clear closing date for applications.
  • Make sure current employees and external applicants are given the same information.
  • Check it steers clear of any wording the employer is unsure about or thinks might be open to legal challenge. Apart from in very limited and lawful exemptions and exceptions, the advertisement must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

Acas publications and services

The Acas page on Hiring staff provides a range of useful sample documents including job descriptions, person specification and job application forms, which are free to download. It also contains links to a wealth of guidance on Recruitment and induction, Flexible working, age and the workplace etc.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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