Advertising and application forms


Advertising roles in the right place and in the right way in the first instance is central to encouraging people to apply and remain engaged throughout the entire recruitment process.

Lengthy and complicated application forms can put people off from applying for jobs. However, application forms do play a pivotal role in obtaining those all-important initial details from candidates.

This section shares top tips in relation to advertising and application forms, with the main focus being on keeping things simple and easy and attracting a healthy number of applicants.

Key challenges

  • Complex application processes prevent job-seekers from applying
  • Lengthy and complicated job descriptions put candidates off 
  • Lengthy application forms can act as a barrier for candidates who are multiple disadvantaged 
  • Reading through multiple lengthy applications can be time-consuming for recruiting managers


  • Streamlining and creating more inclusive solutions saves admin time and leads to a richer workforce within the supply pipeline
  • Tailoring your advertising to your target audience will ensure a more diverse range of applicants will apply
  • Using a variety of channels to advertise job opportunities will create wider reach of potential applicants
  • Completing application forms after interviewing candidates reduces potential barriers supports

Takeaway tips

Take the time to consider your person specification and job description

What you include in these documents can potentially prevent people from applying if there are barriers in terms of qualifications or complicated language.

For example, can you use someone’s lived experience as a key contributor to their qualifications to a role? Tailoring your job descriptions to reflect this can add great value for potential applicants, who would be suitable for the role, but don’t necessarily have the standard qualification certificates.

Pre-employment courses

Pre-employment courses can be used to upskill people within their new role, so even if candidates have the right values, but are not quite job-ready, you can signpost them to supporting organisations who can help.

For example, the Prince’s Trust are a youth charity running programmes and offering 1:1 support across Greater Manchester and beyond with the sole aim of getting 16-30 year olds into sustained jobs within the Health and Social Care sector.

Be upfront about your right to work criteria

Be upfront about your right to work criteria and avoid holding unnecessary interviews with candidates, who exclusively require sponsorship and do not qualify for roles.

Set realistic expectations

Set realistic expectations by creating a clear profile of what your roles involve. ‘Day in the life of’ videos are a really effective way of helping new starters settle in and understand what’s required. Both tactics can help you narrow down the right people for vacancies and improve retention within the onboarding process. See the case study below.

Offer flexible working and part-time opportunities

While it can be challenging for organisations to offer flexible working and make sure rotas are safely filled, in this post-pandemic world, more-and-more people are seeking part-time or flexible working schedules. Where possible, be as flexible and accommodating as possible. See Flexible Working Guides within the Retention section of this toolkit for more details.

Offer support to applicants

Offer support to applicants if it’s possible to do so, and help candidates overcome any barriers that may be stopping them from applying. For instance, childcare, ID issues, CV support and travel costs. Signpost them to relevant support agencies and organisations.

Avoid lengthy personal statements

Consider removing the application process and welcoming CV submissions only as an option to increase the number of applicants.

For example, many job sites now offer an ‘easy apply’ button that can help attract more candidates because they can apply in a matter of seconds. local job search page section, NHS Professionals role with Easy Apply option local job search page section, NHS Professionals role with Easy Apply option
Indeed job search section with easy apply function for Focus Pharmacy
Indeed job search section with easy apply function for Focus Pharmacy

Interview first – paperwork after

Hold initial interviews at dedicated recruitment events. See Large-scale recruitment events for more information.

Accept video applications instead of personal statements

Ask candidates to answer a small number of screening questions in addition to sharing their CV as an alternative approach to lengthy application forms. This is beneficial for candidates who struggle with forms. Employers can also obtain more information about a candidate than a piece of paper can provide.

Be bold

Doing things differently, embracing innovation and implementing changes is pivotal to overcoming the recruitment and retention challenges we currently face in recruitment. Being a change agent is a step in the right direction when it comes to making impactful changes that benefit overall workforce sustainability. 

Case study

Videos are a highly effective way of showcasing the benefits of applying for roles (see examples below). They can draw people in to learn more and be widely shared on most social media channels for greater outreach to potential candidates.

They’re also useful for setting realistic expectations about roles and making sure people with the right values apply. What’s more, being able to see people working in roles, helps candidates decide if the position they are applying for is right for them.

What is nursing like?

This is Modern Nursing produced by the Royal College Nursing

A day in the life of a healthcare support worker

A day in the life of a healthcare support worker produced by NHS Health Careers

Life as a physiotherapist

Life as a paramedic


Useful links and resources