Little Pushback On Writers of Job Ads

Last week I saw this tweet from Aksana Khan stating that England based Arts Emergency, where she works, often asks employers to rewrite their job listings before they will forward the ad onward. Out of the zillion articles written to help job seekers write better resumes, this may be one of two or three pieces I have ever seen telling employers they need to do better. The full article found on Arts Emergency’s site is the first I have seen that suggests they will flat out refuse to distribute an ad if it isn’t up to standard.

In the last year or two there has definitely been a big push especially among employees in the non-profit industry to call out organizations who aren’t listing a concrete salary range, but Arts Emergency is asking much more.

Khan writes: “We refuse to green light bad ads because young people deserve better. The only reason why barriers exist is because gatekeepers don’t accommodate a young person’s needs and situation.”

In addition to asking employers to state the salary, they also ask that the listing is clear about location, possibility for working remotely, Covid related measures, expected hours, availability of pastoral care, what expenses may be covered.

What was most amusing to me were tips that sounded very much like those given to job seekers creating resumes:

•Use bullet points. Some sentences are abominably long. They start in England and end up in Australia when they finally get to the point. Bullet points make your ad easier to digest for those who are neurodivergent.
•Be conversational! It’s refreshing compared to the usual long, jargon-y sentences written in a passive tone. Job adverts give an insight into your work culture. If your language isn’t easy to understand, good luck with your diversity policy.

Other suggestions in this section included offering alternatives to cover letters and resume as applications like video and audio formats. And providing a link to the website so the candidate can get a better sense of what the organization does.

There is also a section on terms to avoid which brings up some issues to consider:

Don’t say your ideal candidate:

“is energetic.” It implies you’re looking for a younger candidate and it’s ableist because some people have health conditions which prevent them from being “bouncier”.
“is mature.” It feeds into an idea that you need to be a certain age to be a team leader or manager.
“is a digital native.” It’s a horribly colonialist, ageist label which ignores the reality of digital poverty.
“must have a degree.” It’s lazy to put this in your personal specification if you don’t explain what skills you’d like from candidates.
“must have a driving license”. … Some people have medical conditions which means they can’t drive. And not everyone can afford the lessons, the car, and maintaining one. You must add a sentence on why it’s “essential”.
“must have [insert number] of years of experience in XYZ industry.” This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy on the lack of diversity in creative fields. Those who are working-class and/or people of colour are less likely to accrue paid experience compared to a white middle-class individual.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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