Tips for avoiding discrimination in job adverts.



Are you from the UK/Is English your first language?

Although you have a legal obligation to check that applicants are eligible to work in the UK – you shouldn’t need to ask any questions about their race, religion or native language.

Because although many jobs may require employees to speak fluently, none of them will need it to be their first language. And if candidates can speak and write in English to the required standard, and can provide proof of legal right to work in the UK, they’re well within their rights to be considered.

In fact, implying that their nationality would affect their ability to do the job could indicate discrimination.

What you could ask instead: ‘What languages do you fluently write or speak?’

Are you married?

Any questions about marital status, children or future family plans should not be asked at an interview.

Not only are these questions of a personal and potentially discriminatory nature, this particular line of questioning could also be used to determine a person’s sexual orientation – something which has no bearing on a candidate’s ability to do the job.

So, no matter what the context, questions like these should be strictly off limits.

What you could ask instead: ‘Do you have any current commitments which may affect your ability to do this job, or which may impact your attendance?’

How old are you?

Although this seems like quite an innocent question on the surface, there are very few reasons you need to ask for a candidate’s age.

Aside from needing to be over 18 to sell certain products (e.g. alcohol) – their age shouldn’t affect their ability to do a job effectively. This means that you have no right to ask about their exact age, or to let it influence your decision to hire them.

You should also steer clear of any other variants of this question, whether it’s asking for a date of birth for your records, when they graduated, or their potential retirement plans.

However, you can ask for date of birth on a separate equality monitoring form – but the person selecting candidates should not be allowed to see this.

What you could ask instead: ‘Are you over 18?’

How many sickness days did you take in your last period of employment?Subjects such as sickness, health, or disabilities should always be avoided at an interview.The only time you can ask about this is if it’s to establish whether an applicant needs an assessment to determine their suitability for the job, or to determine whether adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate a candidate’s needs (e.g. fitting a disabled toilet).

Once a position has been offered, you can make enquiries into health, but only if these relate to their ability to carry out the role effectively.

For more information, you can refer to the Equality Act (2010).

What you could ask instead: ‘Do you have any specific requirements in order to perform this job effectively?’

Do you have any previous criminal convictions?

There is no obligation for a candidate to disclose criminal convictions if the sentence has already been spent.

For this reason, you should not refuse employment to an individual because of a previous crime, unless it relates to the role in question (e.g. teaching, childminding, a senior banking or financial role).

Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that criminal records checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for certain roles (e.g. working with children, healthcare etc.), but this should be undertaken by employers before the interview stage. These were formerly known as CRB checks.

What you could ask instead: ‘Do you know of any reasons why you may not legally be able to take this position?’

Other questions you can’t ask: ‘What religion are you?’, ‘what are your sexual preferences?’ ‘Are you in debt?’, ‘do you have children?’, ‘do you smoke?’, ‘are you a trade union member?’


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Best Songs Over Christmas

  • 57% of people don’t play Christmas songs in their workplace

  • Mariah Carey, Tom Jones & Wham! voted most annoying to listen to at work

  • 7 out of 10 say you shouldn’t decorate before December

  • Socks, underwear, and toiletries named the worst Secret Santa gifts you can give

Every festive film fan knows that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. But, according to our latest research, that sentiment doesn’t always ring true when it comes to the workplace – especially if what you’re singing is Mariah Carey.

We surveyed over 1,000 jobseekers and asked them for their views on what annoys them about working over Christmas, and 15% voted Carey’s hit ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ the most annoying song they have to listen to.

Other irritating songs on the office playlist include ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ and ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!.

‘Fairytale Of New York’ was voted the nation’s favourite festive hit – despite also appearing in the top five worst – and one in three UK workers admitted they don’t even like listening to Christmas music at all in the office.

And it’s not just songs that talk to our inner Scrooge. Over 70% of us said that any decorations put up before December 1st would make us lose our holiday cheer.

And aside from time away from our families, 31% called office Scrooges the worst part of working over the Christmas break, followed by the Christmas rush (23%) and constantly having to listen to Christmas music (11%).

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Although more than half of us don’t do Secret Santa, a staggering 81% enjoyed taking part – no matter how questionable the gifts are.

The presents most likely to make you wish you got gift vouchers instead include socks, underwear and toiletries. Re-gifting was also voted as one of the worst Secret Santa surprises.

Some people clearly step up to the challenge creatively, however. A few of the more unique gifts included everything from a mushroom growing kit and a single lemon, to a worm farm and wrapped-up wrapping paper.

Next year, maybe stick to a novelty mug…


Here’s a rundown of the worst (and best) parts of working over Christmas:


Top 5 worst Christmas songs to listen to at work

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You
  2. Baby It’s Cold Outside
  3. Last Christmas
  4. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
  5. Fairytale Of New York

The 5 most annoying things about working over Christmas

  1. Office Scrooge
  2. The Christmas rush
  3. Other (e.g. time spent away from loved ones)
  4. Constantly listening to Christmas music
  5. Terrible Christmas jumpers

The best time to decorate

  1. December 1st (38%)
  2. A few weeks before Christmas (37%)
  3. End of November (14%)
  4. Never (8%)
  5. Straight after Halloween (3%)


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Happy Christmas from the team at Russell Allen Recruitment

The team wishes all our Clients and Candidates a very merry Christmas and Happy New year .

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Everyone has their own interview bugbears …

No shirt, no shoes…

As the old saying goes, you are how you look. Unfortunately however, some candidates underestimate the importance of appearance, and end up looking exactly what they are – unprofessional.

Some of your favourite interview fashion faux-pas included:

 The male candidate arriving to an interview wearing jeans and no top

 The female candidate offering to change shoes half-way through questioning (and then proceeding to take out the entire contents of her bag to show the extra shoes she had brought)

 A skype interview conducted entirely in pyjamas

 A one-eyebrowed applicant

 The candidate who incorporated ‘protection’ into their outfit (saucepan lids stitched into the lining of their overcoat). Yes, we’re confused too.

Our favourite? The gentleman who arrived at the interview wearing a fishing hat full of bait (N.B. he was not applying for a position at a tackle shop).


The nervous eaters…

Unfortunately, some people get a little peckish when they’re panicking. The most sensible applicants opt for a well-balanced breakfast before the big day to avoid the mid-interview rumbles. Then there are the less sensible options…

For some of you these options included:

 Someone pulling out a cereal bar from their bag when things got a little too much

 The liquid lunch interview (‘Am I allowed to order a beer?’)

 An impromptu interview picnic

 The interviewee who managed to take in a takeaway before turning up


Bringing the bestie…

To combat interview anxiety, some candidates turn to loved ones for some much needed moral support. Unfortunately, sometimes this is taken a little further than a pre-interview phone call or text message, and applicants actually bring their sources of encouragement with them.

Moral support for certain interviewees included:

 A candidate’s best friend

 Extended members of the family (including, but not limited to, aunts and uncles)

 Spouses (In one case, a man even took his wife into the interview with him. Unfortunately, she proceeded to answer most of the questions for him).


Our favourite? The applicant that brought their mum to the interview and left her in the lobby.


You have nothing to fear but fear itself… and ducks

Many interviewees would admit to feeling scared before an interview. In fact, it’s a perfectly natural reaction. What isn’t as natural is running out of an interview screaming half-way through.

Our favourite unusual interview phobia was the poor young lady who applied for a job in a lake-side office but who had make a sharp exit on account of her overwhelming fear of ducks.

Our advice? To avoid awkward situations, always check the area you conduct your interviews in (and hope an applicant’s Anatidaephobia* doesn’t get the better of them).


I’ve started, so I’ll…

Finally, some of your most popular gripes included:

 People asking for a cigarette break during proceedings

 Applicants arriving with no idea what job they’re being interviewed for

 People asking their interviewers out on dates


Our favourite? One keen interviewee in the East Midlands, who completed over half of the interview before rushing out without explanation. It turns out their parking ticket had expired.

At least they managed to avoid a fine.


.Honourable mentions:

  • People with personal space issues (including almost sitting on an interviewer’s lap by mistake),
  • The candidate who left their headphones in
  • The candidate who only spoke in rhymes
  • The candidate who asked to borrow money
  • The candidate who arrived in a dustbin lorry (no, really).
  • Although in fairness to the latter, they were only hitchhiking.


*The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.



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Pensioner Joe ‘storms’ interview and lands café job

Fri, 2 Dec 2016
Cantina Cafe

An 89-year-old jobseeker has “stormed” his interview at a Devonshire café – so much so that he has landed a front-of-house role.

Yesterday, Recruiter reported how the owner of the Cantina Kitchen & Bar had invited Joe Bartley, who lives in Paignton, Devon, to an interview having seen his advert in local paper the Herald Express. Joe placed an advert in the paper asking for work, claiming he was bored being retired.

Updating Recruiter on Joe’s progress, following his interview late yesterday, café owner Kate Allen said Joe had done really well and was being offered a customer-facing role.

“He stormed it – he charmed everybody – he was lovely. I think we’re going to put him front-of-house. He’s so good with people.

“He’s quick-witted, friendly, optimistic – he’s all of those things.”

And Joe’s new bosses are wasting no time putting their latest recruit to work as Allen confirmed Joe starts in his new role from 11am on Sunday.

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Recruitment Sector Awaits Chancellor’s announcements to help job creation


Measures boosting job creation in the UK’s house building, transport infrastructure and science sectors, as well as an increase in the National Living Wage, are just some of the announcements expected in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement later today.

The BBC reports some of the measures that will affect the world of recruitment in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement since succeeding George Osborne will include:

  • Cutting the rate at which benefits are withdrawn from people when they start work. This will take the form of changes to Universal Credit – the flagship single payment being rolled out across the UK – to reduce the ‘taper rate’ from 65% to 63%, meaning benefits will be withdrawn at a rate of 63p for every pound of net earnings.
  • Increasing the National Living Wage to £7.50 an hour from April next year
  • £1.4bn aimed at delivering 40,000 new affordable homes in England
  • An additional £2bn a year for science research funding by 2020
  • £1.3bn to improve road


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Well done Great Britain

Great Britain won two swimming silver medals on day four of the Olympics thanks to Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team.

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This Weeks News

what has been an intense week of Brexit fallout, recruiters have been scrabbling around for any signs of what it means for their industry.

Will we go into recession? Will free movement of labour be shackled? Will clients freeze their recruitment budgets? Will our talent pools shrink even more?

Who knows? But spare a thought for two of the losers in the referendum aftermath. Jobless, friendless, without a future. Yes, we’re talking about David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.

Not many candidates get such high-profile promotion, but the faces of the outgoing PM and the besieged Opposition leader have been doing the rounds of Westminster today on the side of a billboard van.

Can we expect them to walk through our agency doors any time soon?

Don’t expect the phone to ring just yet because the shortlists for these two stellar vacancies are already filled, but, just for a moment, consider the fees that could have been on offer if they had been on your books.

There’s always Boris though. Maybe he’s worth a cold call?

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Its important not to stick to one social media channel

For companies and candidates alike, LinkedIn has long since been the place to be for all things recruitment related. Candidates can upload their CVs; companies can advertise jobs. For a long time it appeared to be the perfect professional networking ecosystem. But as we move through 2016, there are rumblings that the business-specific social network could be running past its sell-by date.

A fascinating article by Matt Churchward (‘The Last Word: Can’t see the blog for the trees’) appeared in December’s issue of Recruiter. In it, he argued that LinkedIn was in danger of falling victim to ‘information overload’ and asked the question: when does information become too much information? And he’s not alone. Throughout 2015 analysts began to ask questions about LinkedIn, sparked by a low share price and rumours of a ‘Facebook at Work’ spin-off on the horizon. So in 2016, just how LinkedIn do you need to be to find online success in the recruitment market?

You absolutely, 100% need to be on LinkedIn

With over 400m global users, LinkedIn is now over 12 years old. It pre-dates Facebook, and in the words of TechRepublic has ‘become the de facto tool for professional networking’. It can also be a great tool for candidates seeking to cast themselves in the spotlight. Even if they are still working with traditional CVs (and we recommend they do) it is beneficial to be able to view a LinkedIn profile alongside it, if only to see how the public stacks up against the personal. 

But, like all things, do it in moderation

Where candidates and companies go wrong on LinkedIn is that they expect too much from it, or they place too much emphasis on the platform. Because LinkedIn’s range of products and services has grown dramatically in recent years (blogging, news, timeline) there is a temptation to use it in a way more akin to Facebook, and this is problematic. Endless blog posts, inspirational quotes, individual and company level self-promotion and constant ‘connecting’ could actually be deemed over-exposure and do your brand more harm than good.Candidates are now also catching onto the fact other routes to market are available to them, such as going direct to online jobs boards or recruitment company sites. Since the invention of LinkedIn, other social media sites have developed to make online networking much more informal and organic, and increasingly platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram can be useful in the search for fresh candidates.

From content to conversationOver the years LinkedIn has itself set new standards in online networking, forcing many other sites and indeed recruitment professionals themselves to improve their service. Its aesthetically pleasing layout and front-end content management system make it a dream to use. The concept has revolutionised the way business people network, and it remains a particularly useful — and important — tool for the recruitment sector. 

But with social networking developing and the pool of online platforms growing, recruiters and candidates alike are finding new ways to connect. As content turns into conversation online, the business-specific platform is in danger of getting stuck in an age of broadcast media, noise and self-promotion. Yes, it’s important to be linked in during 2016. But be linked in across the entire web, not only on this single change

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LinkedIn has transformed the recruitment industry

Professional networking site LinkedIn has “absolutely transformed” the recruitment industry, serial recruitment entrepreneur James Caan said yesterday at a celebration of the platform’s achieving 20m members in the UK.

Caan was identified at the event as a “power profile” in the leaders category on LinkedIn, along with global recruiter Hays’ chief executive Alistair Cox and entrepreneur and businessman Richard Branson. With 2.5m followers currently on LinkedIn worldwide, Caan admitted to the audience: “Two years ago, I didn’t know what a blog was.”

When he posts his blogs now, he said, “within 30 seconds, thousands of people are giving an opinion”.

Referring to the industry in which he built the first stage of his fortune, Caan said: “Recruitment is an industry I love and I think LinkedIn has absolutely transformed the industry.”

Acknowledging that some recruiters are wary of the platform and the impact of social media upon their work, he added: “I would urge that rather than fighting change, embrace it.”

The 20m LinkedIn members in the UK represent 58% of the entire UK workforce, including students. Students are now a major target for membership on LinkedIn, which has grown by nearly 17m in the UK since 2009.


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