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Getting your job advertisements right

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Create the right impression from the start, advise experts from Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

It takes just seconds for candidates to form a first impression of your company. While most may think this impression is formed during the interview, it is formed much earlier – with your job advertisement. In fact, a good job advertisement might just be the deciding factor to prompt your potential candidate to apply for the position you wish to fill.

Getting your job advertisements right doesn’t just create a good first impression. Getting it wrong has serious consequences. Such companies have been taken to task by the Ministry of Manpower for breaching the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

A good job advertisement is one that clearly outlines what a candidate is required to have: the skills, knowledge and experience. These must be relevant to the job. Should you require a specific attribute which may be viewed as discriminatory, ensure that it is indeed a requirement of the job and state the reason for the requirement in the advertisement. This will ensure the job requirements are well understood, and at the same time, can reach out to a wider range of eligible candidates. No job criteria that discriminate against nationality, age, race, religion, gender, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability, are allowed.

The following words or phrases are unacceptable in job advertisements:

Nationality – Words or phrases that exclude Singaporeans or indicate preference for non- Singaporeans should not be used; e.g. non- Singaporeans/foreigners (or of a specific nationality) preferred/welcome/only/can also apply/will also be considered.

Language – Stating a language without giving justification for it as a job requirement; e.g. Mandarin/Malay/Tamil language/speaking.

Age – Stating a preference for job candidates of a particular age group, unless there are legal or regulatory requirements, for which must be clearly indicated; e.g. minimum aged 21 and above/ youthful working environment.

Race – Stating race as a criterion for the selection of job candidates, which is against multi-racialism, a fundamental principle in Singapore; e.g. Chinese/Malay/Indian preferred.

Religion – Making religion as a criterion for recruitment, except in cases where employees have to perform religious functions or fulfil religious certification standards as part of the job requirement, for which this must be clearly stated; e.g. Christian/Buddhist/Muslim/Hindu preferred.

Gender – Stating a preference for job candidates of a particular gender; e.g. female working environment. For gender-centric job titles e.g. draughtsman, chambermaid, you should state that “both genders may apply”.

Marital status and family responsibilities – Using marital status and family responsibilities as criteria for recruitment; e.g. preferably singles. Jobs can be performed equally well by either married or single people.

Remember, always adopt the principles of fair and progressive employment when creating and posting a job advertisement. This will reflect positively on your company, help you attract a bigger pool of eligible candidates, and increase your chances of finding that perfect fit for your company.


TAFEP holds regular workshops to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit www.tafep.sg to find out more.

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