Job adverts – how getting the small details right can lead to big successes

Kayley Hignell, Head of policy: Families, Welfare and Work

Over the last year, Citizens Advice has carried out research and made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the quality of job adverts. This week the government has confirmed that they are implementing one of our key recommendations by adopting an open standard on job adverts.  In practice this means they are making sure all government job adverts contain a standard set of information about the job. From pay, to working pattern or location- these things will all now have to be standardised and included in all government job ads.

This might seem like a small technical detail but there are 5 reasons why this small change is a big deal:

1 – Currently, job adverts are spectacularly bad at giving people key information

Our research found that only 12% of job adverts contained the information recommended by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

We’re talking pretty basic details here. 40% weren’t clear if the jobs were full or part time, a third didn’t mention how much you could expect to be paid and another 40% didn’t tell you whether the job was permanent or temporary.

With over 750,000 vacancies in the UK in just the last 3 months, improving this could have a big impact. The standard has been set by the government for it’s own jobs. We now need other employers and job sites, including universal jobmatch, to follow suit.

2 – Better information in adverts allows jobseekers to make more informed choices

Not having enough information about a job means many job seekers can go on multiple and repeat wild goose chases.  Without basic information about the job they’re applying for, jobseekers face a huge amount of additional and unnecessary effort. Searching takes more time and many may end up applying for jobs they are not aware are unsuitable.  

Things like the rate of pay or where a job is based can completely rule a job out of the question. This is a particular issue for certain groups: those who are trying to progress from their current job, those with health conditions or disabilities, and those who must fit work around other responsibilities such as caring.  

3 – Better ads can help Jobcentre plus staff to support benefit claimants

Under universal credit, jobcentre plus staff will have to support a much wider group of benefit claimants. New rules for working claimants will mean those whose earnings are too low will have new responsibilities for the first time. Jobcentre staff will have to help them increase their hours or rate of pay.

If job ads don’t include information about salary or indeed the hours of a job it’s pretty difficult for the claimant to know whether it will help them improve their pay or not. It’s also then difficult for Jobcentre staff to support people in their search.

4 – Better ads can save businesses time and money

These changes could also benefit employers. Recruitment is time consuming and expensive. Sifting through hundreds of job applications from lots of unsuitable candidates can waste huge amounts of resources.

Better information in job ads has the potential to not only reduce this but also to attract candidates who may not otherwise have applied.

5 – Standardised adverts provide standardised data and this opens up a world of potential

We don’t  have reliable data on job vacancies in the UK. This presents two big problems. Firstly it takes a lot of time to understand how job markets are changing and where there may be mismatches between local populations and the types of vacancies in their local job market.

Secondly, without standardised data we can’t build great tools and realise the huge potential of high quality job matching functions. There are so many benefits to this.   Better job matches can mean more productive workers, less time and resource for employers, less benefit money from government, more retention in work and happier more useful employees. The ability to achieve this is severely limited when the information in job ads is so poor.



The government’s announcement is a big step in the right direction on job ads and we’re really pleased that our research in this area has helped to achieve this change.

As an organisation, we helped over 200,000 people with over 375,000 employment-related issues over the last year. This provides us with significant insight, but also makes us aware that changing what look like small details can often lead to big improvements.

Congratulations should go to everyone involved, from the volunteers across the network to government digital services who together have achieved this small but very important change.

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