Once you have written a job description and person specification for your role you will need to write an advert. This factsheet provides guidance on how to write an effective advert and the different advertising options that are available to you. A well-written advert will attract the best applicants and will enable you to find the best person for your job.
Writing a good advert
A well-written advert is one of the most effective ways to attract a wide range of high-quality applicants. Your advert needs to be written in a way which ‘sells’ your PA job as an attractive prospect to potential applicants. It should communicate quickly and clearly essential information about the job and provide a clear way for applicants to apply for the job.
It is important not to rush writing an advert and you should always allow time to review it after you have written your first draft from the perspective of the job seeker not your own.
What makes a good advert?
A good advert should be:
Accurate: it describes the job and its requirements accurately using carefully chosen positive language.
Short: it covers just the important points. Two short paragraphs is the optimum length. Short sentences have a greater impact on the reader.
Honest: it does not make claims about the job that will later prove false. Avoid ‘overselling’ the job and creating an unrealistic picture of the reality of the job.
Positive: it gives the potential applicant a positive feel about the role and enables them to visualise themselves in the role.
Relevant: it gives details that applicants need to know before applying e.g. tasks, hours, location, hourly rate and details of any specific experience/skills required.
Drafting your advert
Use one simple headline: this will normally be the job title and location e.g. Personal Care Assistant/Support Worker – Worthing.
The job title should be meaningful to applicants: ‘Personal Care Assistant/Support Worker’ is a good title to use. If your job is going to be advertised online or at the job centre, applicants are likely to enter a search term such as ‘care’ or ‘support’ and therefore will be more likely to find your advert. It also avoids confusion with administrative (office based) ‘personal assistant’ roles.
The whole advert should be based on the job description and person specification: You should not include any requirements in the advert that are not in the job description.
The advert should be easy to read: use simple language and avoid unnecessary complicated words or long sentences. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.
Your advert should focus on the key aspects of the job: e.g. ‘housework, meal preparation and some personal care’ puts the focus on the housework and the meal preparation but still provides an accurate picture of the job.
If you live in an urban area mention local landmarks or main roads nearby: this will encourage local applicants. This is particularly relevant for short shifts, where PAs may not want to travel far to work.
The unique selling point of PA jobs is that they involve working directly with a disabled person/family rather than through an agency: to reflect this you should speak directly to the applicant e.g. ‘I am a disabled mother of two looking for assistance…’
Make it personal: Add details about you such as your personality or things you like to do, without giving your identity away, can allow applicants to get a sense of who they will be working for and may help to find someone better suited to you. e.g. ‘I am a caring, chatty lady……. I enjoy walks along the beach…’.
Improving your advert
After your first draft, review your advert and imagine you are reading it for the first time. What would you think of the job? Would it appeal to you? It can be useful to put the advert aside for a couple of hours before reviewing it. It may be helpful to ask someone else to read it for you and give you their comments.
You should avoid including the following:
Long list of tasks: instead simply list the most important e.g. personal care including help with washing and dressing and domestic assistance including meal preparation. More detail about tasks and routines can be included in the job description.
Long and complicated lists of shift patterns: it is good to be specific about shifts as it enables applicants to see whether the job fits around their existing commitments. However, if you have a large number of shifts at varying times it is better to summarise e.g. ‘two mornings, weekdays, total of ten hours per week’.
Requests for applicants to cover the holiday and sickness of existing PAs: applicants may be concerned that they will be expected to be available all the time. You could instead mention the possibility of cover work at interview.
Lack of clarity: eg ‘driver required’ could indicate either that the PA will be driving your car or driving their own car. Whereas, adding ‘to drive employer’s vehicle’ indicates that it must be your car. Equally you should clearly distinguish between ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ requirements e.g. ‘full driving licence essential’ or ‘full driving licence an advantage’.
If you have previously advertised and had a poor response you could use the above list to look at ways to improve your advert.
Avoiding illegal discrimination
In order to ensure fairness and consistency in all aspects of PA employment and to promote equal opportunities it is vital that you avoid illegal discrimination when recruiting personal assistants. If you do illegally discriminate not only, will you be breaking the law but you may also be ruling out the best candidate for the job.
As soon as a person applies for a job, they have a right not to be illegally discriminated against. If there are genuine reasons that you need a PA to have particular characteristics e.g. to be of a certain sex because they will be assisting you with personal care, you must make it clear in your advert why this is necessary. If you can legitimately and proportionately justify such discrimination is a genuine occupational requirement e.g. if your role involves personal care, it would be legitimate to specify that your PA should be the same sex as you for reasons of privacy and decency.
You should not discriminate against applicants on the basis of age, disability, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender reassignment or pregnancy and maternity. Discrimination includes direct and indirect discrimination, perception and association discrimination, harassment (including third party harassment) and victimisation. For further information on this topic please see factsheet 2.5: Avoiding discrimination in PA employment.
The following example adverts are intended to give you ideas about the types of things you would like to include in your own advert.
Example poster/website advert
What’s good about this advert?
- it is short and readable and paints a positive picture of the employer and the job.
- it clearly indicates the shifts and the type of contract the PA will be offered.
- requiring applicants to be ‘friendly and sociable’ does not discriminate illegally against applicants with mental health issues because this job involves assisting the employer with social activities and so it is an occupational requirement.
Example newspaper (‘lineage’) advert
If you are thinking about advertising in a newspaper you may need to put together a more concise lineage advert like the one below.
What’s good about this advert?
- it communicates the concept of ‘independent living’ but puts applicants at ease by highlighting that training will be provided.
- it provides a simple and easy way to apply.
As a Direct Payment (DP) employer you are obliged to meet the costs of recruitment from your direct payment and so you need to give careful consideration to which advertising method will be the most cost effective and successful for you. The cost of recruitment methods should be discussed with your social worker, social services department (SSD) or Continuing Health Care (CHC).
You can advertise in many different ways e.g. websites, social media, local newspapers, the job centre and flyers and posters in your local area. Some methods are free whilst others, such as newspaper advertising, can be very expensive.
In order to protect your privacy, rather than putting your own contact details on the advert you may wish to put Independent Lives’ contact details and have Independent Lives forward applications to you.
Independent Lives can also provide free recruitment support depending on who funds your Direct Payment, call us to check, which provides:
- access to our broad expertise in recruitment to help you recruit successfully.
- access to our PA pages which is a database of PA’s looking for work, through which potential staff can usually be selected by you quickly and easily; and
- advertise your PA positions on our own website, our Facebook page and other recruitment websites that we have found to be effective.
- flyers you can put up in local shops, libraries or groups you attend.
Word of mouth
Let family, friends, acquaintances and existing employees know that the job is available. It is useful to have printed flyers with more detail about the job to give to anyone you know who is interested in the role or who may know other people who may be interested.
This is a quick and efficient method of advertising however you should be careful not to compromise your personal
Advertising in your local community
The advantages of this method are that it is cheap (often free) and it attracts local applicants who will usually be able to commute very reliably to the job. However you should be careful to remove adverts once you have recruited or after they have been up for a long time otherwise the recruitment process can become unmanageable.
When advertising in this more informal way, you should make sure you stress in your advert that the job is formal employment and ‘not cash-in-hand’. A typed advert (poster or flyer) makes the advert look more professional and helps it to stand out from the other adverts. Good places to advertise in your local community are:
- Community Centres
- Local shop windows
- Schools and colleges
- Doctors’ surgeries
- Parish Halls
- Local libraries
Independent Lives can also place your advert on their website, Facebook page and some external recruitment websites free of charge.
Emailing, Facebook and Twitter can also be a good way to reach many people. However, one of the disadvantages is that information is very quickly out of date due to the volume of information on the internet.
If you do advertise this way, you might have to advertise regularly or update your information at least every other week, to ensure it stays current.
You must consider carefully whether you can afford to advertise in this way as the cost is usually very high.
Newspaper advertising reaches a very wide audience of people who are actively seeking work and may also give a more professional image of the job. However it is very expensive and unless the newspapers you advertise in have very localised distribution it may be hard to attract staff who are based locally.
Independent Lives recruitment boost service will cost a one-off payment of £60.00. Independent Lives will advertise your role for 30 days on:
- Independent Lives website
- Independent Lives recruitment Facebook page
- Other recruitment websites
Your advert on Independent Lives Facebook will also be boosted so more people see it. The Facebook post will link directly to your role on our website making it easy for people to find out more and apply! Independent Lives will select where the boost appears throughout the 30 days. This means your role will appear on Facebook user’s timeline if they live near to where the role is based. Independent Lives will guide you through the process of recruitment, processing all application forms received for your role and forward them onto you so that you can shortlist candidates.