Attracting applicants | Christian Vocations

Attracting applicants

How and where to advertise

When advertising a job you want to be drawing in good candidates with the necessary skills and abilities, attracting a decent number of applicants, and ultimately appointing the best person for the role. To avoid choosing from too narrow a field, there are a number of ways to generate interest from potential candidates.

But firstly, don’t overlook your own internal ‘talent pool’ – to keep your best staff you want to be providing opportunities for development and/or career progression within your organisation/church. The best candidate might be an existing employee. But do make sure you handle all applications – internal and external – in exactly the same way, so as to avoid allegations of favouritism or discrimination.

Pick at least two advertising methods from the following (depending on the type and level of job):

  • The internet - this is increasingly the primary route for people to look for and advertise new jobs. It can range from simply advertising your vacancy through to handling the entire recruitment process online. Internet recruitment tools include online recruitment websites (for example, Christian Vocations), but also your own website, and your own social media accounts if you have them (asking your followers to help with sharing and/or retweeting).
  • Local churches (sending a short version of your advert for their notice sheets, noticeboards and e-bulletins).
  • The Christian press (printed magazines or newspapers).
  • Local newspapers.
  • Some organisations use recruitment agencies to help with their recruitment. If you do so, just make sure that they have a very good understanding of your organisation and its requirements before they start advertising.
Labour market conditions

Don’t assume that there will be a steady stream of candidates for the position you are advertising!

There are some factors and shortages which might affect successful recruitment.  For instance, our impression is that there has been, at times, a shortage of Christian youth and children’s workers. And there is no doubt that requiring candidates to raise their own financial support will significantly narrow the field of candidates who apply. So you might need to make more of an effort to attract suitable candidates – for instance offering good training opportunities, flexible working, part-time work / job shares, career development programmes etc. or even just ensuring that you clearly articulate your vision to attract those who would share it. It’s also a good idea to give some time to finding out salaries for comparable roles so that you are pitching yours at about the right level compared to others in the same sector (and note that you must at least comply with National Minimum Wage rates).

Practical details

Before you advertise ensure you have the following in place:

  • Clarity as to how applicants should respond to the advert – if there is an application form to fill in, how this should be returned (email/online/post) etc.
  • Someone to respond to applicants – acknowledging emails and applications, sending further details, responding to queries promptly.
  • Someone as a point of contact should candidates wish to have an informal chat or visit before submitting an application.
  • At least two people to sift applications and shortlist – ensuring they are aware of how to do this properly. 
  • Plans for the next steps in the process – a date for interviews (with any necessary/appropriate practical or written tests) and people in place to run these.
  • Clear guidelines for the handling and storage of personal information for all those involved.
  • Remember that (unless you are a visa sponsoring organisation and can apply for visas for those needing them), you have a responsibility to check that applicants have the right to work in the UK. 

Discrimination alert

  • Be careful about spreading news of vacancies only through existing staff. This is more likely to bring in a limited pool of candidates and (unless it is a very niche role) is less likely to get the best possible candidates. In terms of Equal Opportunities requirements it could be lacking too – the Equality and Human Rights Commission warns against this practice if the workforce is predominantly one sex or racial group.
  • If you are advertising a job that can be done by non-Christians (that is, there is no occupational requirement that the postholder is a committed Christian), be careful that you don't only advertise through Christian channels. This could be seen as indirect discrimination.
Writing a job advert

Your overall aim should be to ensure the advert is eye-catching, conveys something of the image of your church / organisation, is brief, and is easily understood.

  • Include the job title and the main aspects of the role (from the job description).
  • If there is room then include some of the skills, knowledge and qualities that are essential for the post (reflecting the contents of the person specification).
  • Include brief information on pay, location, and length of contract (e.g. permanent or temporary).
  • Give basic but interesting (or even inspiring) information about your church / organisation (you could then link through to your website or a separate document for a fuller description).
  • Give a clear closing date and brief instructions as to how to apply.
  • Include a contact name, email and/or phone number for people to contact should they have additional questions.
  • Within this, be warm, creative and a bit informal if you wish!
  • For examples of different job adverts, see Christian Vocations UK jobs pages. (Note: we cannot guarantee that the individual adverts on these pages meet all the above requirements.)
Practical issues
  • Those who are interested need to receive some written material from you (further particulars or an application pack of some kind).
  • This will normally include further information about the organisation/church, an application form, the job description and the person specification.
  • You can either make these documents available online for candidates to download, or make it clear to candidates who they should contact to request these.
  • You may like to consider putting together in one document some further brief information about your church or organisation, and any other information relevant to the needs of the applicants. This is a good opportunity to inspire candidates about who you are and why they might want to consider working with you.
  • Links to your website and / or social media accounts will also help candidates to build up a fuller picture.

Discrimination alert

  • Check that the advert avoids using any wording that might be viewed as discriminatory or open to legal challenge (apart from very limited and lawful exemptions and exceptions you must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation).
  • The job title you use should not be gender specific — ‘waitress', ‘salesman', ‘manageress' and ‘Headmaster’ should be avoided. If you wish to include something gender specific in the job title you must have a clearly justifiable reason for doing so (and this needs checking carefully). 
  • Where language is an important part of the role you must state that someone must be able to communicate in the language rather than being from a particular country, for example 'Italian speaking' rather than 'Italian'.
  • Avoid words such as ‘youthful', ‘mature' or ‘recent graduate’. All these terms could be seen as excluding someone from applying for a role based on their age.
  • Asking for a certain level or length of experience from candidates could be deemed as discriminating against someone who hasn't had the opportunity to gain that experience as they are too young. There are other ways of rephrasing a job advert, such as asking for candidates who have demonstrated experience in a certain task.
  • Some jobs do have physical requirements which are essential (for example firefighters, or some acting roles), but you must ensure it is a genuine requirement for the role rather than something which is ‘nice to have'.

Helpful resources - including more detailed information on recruiting within the law.