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Things Not To Say In A Help Wanted Ad

There's an art to writing a help wanted ad. They have to be to-the-point, yet descriptive. You want to get it out to people, but you also don't want to get swamped with responses.

No matter what, be careful. With the wrong wording or recruitment process, your help wanted ad could lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

Here are a few tips to prevent your help wanted ads from seeming discriminatory:

Avoid discussing a protected status.

Employers need to be careful not to print or publish job posts that show a preference for or against potential applicants based on a legally protected status. It's a big no-no for employers to show preference based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or military service. In some states and localities, sexual orientation is protected as well.

Don't use gender-specific language.

Our culture regularly uses gendered words like "waitress" or "mailman." But even if it's generally understood to be neutral, it could still get you in trouble. A good rule of thumb is to be gender neutral — for example, using "server" instead of "waitress." While there are situations in which it may be OK to limit ads to a specific gender, why risk it? .

Limit the use of word-of-mouth recruiting.

Employers should be careful about job opportunities that are shared via current employees talking to family and friends. Word-of-mouth is a great recruiting resource. But from a legal standpoint, mix in other recruitment methods to make sure you have a diverse pool of potential applicants.

Don't try to fix an unbalanced workforce with a discriminatory ad.

From a legal angle, your workforce should try to reflect the diversity in your area. If your staff isn't quite mirroring that, try to get your help wanted ad out to media outlets and job boards that reach a wider group of people, but always make it clear that you accept applications from everyone.

Clearly state that you don't discriminate.

It never hurts to include in any help wanted ad a line that you're an "Equal Opportunity Employer."

SESCO Management Consultants is available to assist with your human resource issues. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at