The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code states that marketers should advertise jobs only if they are genuine vacancies. Sometimes marketers wrongly imply that jobs are available, whereas in reality it is the opportunity to obtain information or register interest. In 2013, an ad was found to be misleading because it implied that specific roles were available, when successful applicants would actually be added to a database to be considered for future opportunities (Cerco IT Training and Recruitment, 31 July 2013).
Marketers can mislead by advertising under the wrong heading; for example, ads for training courses or business opportunities that appear in the “situations vacant” columns could confuse readers about what the ad is offering. Words that are usually associated with contracted employment, such as “salary” can mislead readers if they are used to advertise self-employment opportunities (Cooper Advertising, 9 February 2011).
Marketers should also not misrepresent the number of vacancies available. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has seen complaints where marketers have advertised multiple vacancies, when in actuality applicants were applying for interviews or test days, where only a single applicant (or a small number of applicants) was eventually hired.
The ASA has upheld complaints about third parties, such as casting agencies, using woolly or ambiguous language such as “Extras Wanted” (Hidden Faces 7 April 2004), “Top production company … seeking hot new female R&B singer …” (Pop Sensations Ltd, 11 February 2004), “We are looking for …” or similar. This is particularly a problem in the entertainment business, where hopefuls are enticed into contacting an agency because they have wrongly thought employment was on offer. Often what is on offer is the opportunity to register with an agent or agency (usually for a fee). Marketers should always state that they arean agency and that fees or costs are payable.
Marketing communications for homework schemes or business opportunities can also mislead if they are ambiguous or give confusing or incomplete information about what is on offer. It should be made clear to readers that they are not applying for a job vacancy (A Walton & Associates, 19 November 2003).
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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