Focus: People Management - Coaching session with Stephen Bubb

Q: We're a small charity and need to appoint a CEO. We can't afford a search, but we want to place an advert, which we have to do ourselves. Do you have any tips?

Just look at the job advertisements in The Guardian or The Sunday Times. Some of the worst are produced by large government departments.

There are some basic rules to follow:

- Make it eye-catching, so spend a little on design. You may be able to find someone to do this pro bono. Layout and image are important.

Make sure you promote your brand - I hope you've got a funky logo.

- Keep it simple. I am astonished by the verbiage in public sector advertisements.

What do people want to know? The job title, the salary, the organisation and a basic description of the post. With chief executives it's easy because it's the top job.

If it was a different job, the guide would be to avoid bizarre titles such as 'director of change' or boring titles such as 'assistant director (corporate, procurement, partnerships)'.

- Be clear. Have a concise statement about what your organisation does and what you want in the job. If you are after a CEO who is going to transform the organisation, say so. If you want someone to carry on the excellent work of the previous person, say so too. You might like to appoint a genius or a saint, but these are in short supply these days.

- Be welcoming. The approach of many organisations to recruitment is based on the attitude 'you'll be lucky if you get a job with us'. They forget that recruitment is a two-way process - you need to attract talented people to you. You'll be lucky to get them, not the other way around.

- Diversity. You want to recruit widely, so you must welcome diversity. Just look at those advertisements that are printed in very small typeface, ignoring the very sensible guidelines issued by RNIB for the partially sighted. They still have the cheek to say they welcome people with disabilities.

Just look at two recent advertisements from the Russell Commission and the Beacon Fellowship and compare them with the superbly clear advertisement produced recently for the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

- Welcome CVs. I was astonished at an advertisement for a well-known national sector organisation that boldly stated "We do not accept CVs".

Why on earth not? You should make the application process as easy as possible.

Why shouldn't you accept a CV as long as there is a covering letter that clearly addresses the skills and competencies you require for the job?

Remember what the PR guru Leo Burnett once said: "In the advertising din of today, unless you make yourself noticed and believed, you ain't got nothin'."

- Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to

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