Apprenticeship Toolkit Logo
WISE Campaign Semta ICE

Hints and Tips for writing job specifications and adverts

We know that designing recruitment advertising and campaigns can be tricky. Below are some hints and tips about what to include and what to avoid in job specifications, adverts and throughout the recruitment campaign. Following this guidance can help encourage more women to apply for your apprenticeships.

For further guidance on how to write a job advert, please see here.

Avoid superlatives or extreme modifiers

Using the very highest adjective or adverb to describe something – for example, “world class”, “unsurpassed”, “wonderful”, “highly competitive” or even flashy versions like “rock star” or “ninja”.

As well as seeming exaggerated, research shows these discourage women from applying.

Show interest in a broader range of abilities that someone may have to succeed in the role.

Avoid Gender Specific Pronouns

This may seem obvious but can be a common mistake - rephrase to avoid the need for them.

If they are needed use a balance of male and female.

Make sure ‘Required’ is really required

Women are less likely to apply than men if they do not have all of the qualifications included. Remove any that are not essential.

If some can be learned on the job move them to desirable or preferable - or remove them!

For academic qualifications, where possible remove them. The Young Women’s Trust have identified academic requisites as a barrier to apprenticeships for the 120,000 young women who left school in 2015 without 5 A*-C GCSEs.

Avoid restrictive year requirements – this can also be seen as age discriminatory and discourage applicants wishing to retrain.

Similarly, make sure that if you are asking for frequent travel or overtime requirements, ensure this is essential, as this may discourage women from applying.

Include any family friendly, flexible working opportunities.

Include a short and engaging overview

This should be a description of the job’s main function and an insight into your company and culture.

Include why someone would want to do this job – what’s in it for them? Why would they want to work at your company and why apply for this job?

How does it contribute to the larger company objectives and society as a whole? Research has shown women respond more strongly to careers that make a difference in the world.

Make your language inviting and positive. Job adverts need to inform, excite and inspire someone to want to come and work for you.

Try to appeal to both someone’s head and heart…

Avoid long bulleted lists

Long lists are difficult to absorb and including minute details mean little until you are in the job.

Try to describe the key function of the role in no more than 5-7 bullets.

Grouping bullets under 2 or 3 headings of responsibilities can also be effective.

Try not to use them to list requirements and avoid using them for qualifications.

Ensure all images and photos used in your advertising represents a diverse range of people

It is important that you’re not discouraging diverse candidates through your imagery.

Look for photos and images that represent your company and culture.

If necessary, commission a photographer to take some new shots, possibly including your own employees! Or ask around – you might find one of your own employees who would be happy to get involved in taking the photos.

Examine your ads for subtle bias

Some words have become traditionally associated with stereotypical male and female behaviours, for example “assertive”, “analytical” and “determined” are associated with male stereotypes and may discourage women from applying.

This can lead to potential apprentices having concerns about fitting in.

WISE’s ‘Not for People Like Me’ research also found that using adjectives rather than verbs to describe careers helps woman and girls engage with adverts.

Download this checklist
Get in Touch

Our Sponsors

Back to