Recruiting Tips

Hiring? Here's what you need to know about job posts, recruiting platforms, attracting highly skilled candidates, and more.

How to Avoid Discrimination in Job Posts

man typing

All of us want to make the recruitment process as effective and short as possible. But be careful! Avoid discrimination in the job ads otherwise you might end up with a law suit instead of a highly qualified employee. Let's see what discrimination in job listings means.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination in job ads can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is when you clearly state that you prefer certain people to others based on their race, gender, age and so on. Rephrasing the sentence by saying you want your candidates to be of a certain gender, race, age, etc. is not better, because you exclude those who do not match your criteria. For instant, saying you are looking for waitresses excludes all the male applicants who would be otherwise suitable for the job. 

Indirect discrimination is when you have requirements that are not necessary for the job and excludes certain groups of people. Let me give you an example: If you say you want to hire someone with a valid driving licence make sure the job's responsibilities includes driving, otherwise you discriminate those who cannot to drive.

The anti-discrimination laws covers the following characteristics: 

  • disability
  • race
  • age
  • sex
  • gender reassignment
  • sexual orientation 
  • marital status and civil partnership
  • maternity or pregnancy
  • religion/belief or the lack of it

It means you cannot use these protected characteristics as a reason to treat the applicants less favourably. 


Avoid the major pitfalls

  • sexual discrimination: You are on the safe side, if you neither state nor imply which is the suitable gender for the job applicants. That is, use neutral job titles and avoid the use of 'he' and 'she'. Either replace them with the plural 'they' or use expressions such as 'candidate', 'applicant'. Alternatively, use the pronouns together 'he/she'.

Bad examples: salesman, fireman, waitress
Good examples: salesperson, fire-fighter, bar staff 


  • racial discrimination: Similarly, you mustn't either state or imply that a race is more favourable than the others or that a race is less suitable than the others. You may think that no-one could ever fall foul of this legislation, but you'd be wrong. Simply stating that you are looking for a German salesperson is discrimination because what you really need is a salesperson who is fluent in German. So, be careful.

Bad example: Welsh driver
Good example: Welsh speaking teacher


  • age discrimination: Age discrimination is quite tricky because you are not only prohibited to set age limits but you are not even allowed to say 'youthful' or 'mature' either.

Bad example: energetic young salesperson
Good example: hard-working salesperson


  • disability discrimination: There are jobs that simply require certain physical activities, but when you write the job advert, make sure the criteria or skills required are essential to the job and that the language is not discriminative. Let me repeat a previous example: don't require a driving license unless the responsibilities of the position includes driving. 

Bad example: able-bodied PA
Good example: good communication skills (for a call centre operative) 

Before posting your job listing, I suggest you to read it again to ensure nothing could be seen as direct or indirect discrimination. Just to be on the safe side, you might even ask one of your colleagues to go through it.


Are you hiring? Reach candidates all over the UK. Post your job for free.


Related Articles