Artificial Intelligence has become a favourite media buzzword that dominates headlines and raises concerns about job security, data privacy, and the risks of social manipulation. With dystopian and utopian scenarios both being speculated, should we be excited or worried about AI in recruitment?

The answer is not straightforward. AI in recruitment presents both opportunities and challenges. AI has the potential to revolutionise the recruitment process by improving efficiency, reducing bias, and aiding employers in making more informed decisions. As technology advances, here at CJA, we continue to explore its potential.

As processing speeds improve, AI-driven algorithms can scan through CVs, assess candidates’ qualifications, and predict their suitability for a role more effectively each year. However, evaluating candidates is more complex than merely matching keywords and qualifications. Transferable skills, behaviours, and cultural fit all require human judgment and emotional intelligence, areas where AI is currently limited.

One area that particularly interests us is the potential to mitigate unconscious bias. Our in-house assessment tools already remove personal identifiers, but can AI completely eliminate all bias? Machine assessments, devoid of emotion and mental and physical fatigue, offer the potential for 24/7 consistency. However, AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on, and if the training data is biased, existing inequalities and biases may be perpetuated further.

In our employer marketing and career website service, we are exploring AI chatbots and their potential to enhance the candidate experience by providing real-time support and interaction. Naturally, there are concerns about how much candidates want the recruitment process to be dehumanised. While society has accepted self-service machines at the checkout (some more reluctantly than others), do we really want to engage with machines for something as important as the next step in our careers?

Like many businesses, we are embracing AI in our day-to-day operations to enhance efficiency, but we are also taking a measured approach to ensure ethical and practical challenges are not overlooked. For now, we look forward to this article becoming outdated.

If you are interested in harnessing technology for your recruitment processes, employer brand strategies, and recruitment advertising activities, please contact us today.

Public bodies, from government agencies to local authorities, often require the expertise of recruitment advertising services to attract top talent and fulfil their organisational needs. To simplify and expedite the procurement of such services, they can leverage the ESPO Advertising Solutions (Recruitment Advertising & Other Advertising Services) framework – Framework Number: 3A-20.

In this article, we will explore the procurement routes within ESPO framework and delve into the advantages of using the “call-off” method for acquiring recruitment advertising services from CJA.

ESPO Frameworks: An overview

ESPO (Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation) is a public sector buying organisation that provides a range of procurement services for public sector organisations in the UK. They offer a variety of frameworks that allow public bodies to procure goods and services efficiently and in compliance with public procurement regulations. These frameworks are designed to streamline the procurement process and ensure that public funds are spent wisely.

Procurement routes for ESPO Frameworks

When it comes to utilising ESPO frameworks, public bodies have two primary procurement routes:

  • Call-off (also known as direct award)
  • Further competition

Call-off Method

The call-off method, also known as a direct award, is a straightforward and swift way to procure products and services via an ESPO framework. This method is particularly suitable for situations where the required goods or services can be clearly defined and priced. In the context of recruitment advertising services, you can choose the Advertising Solutions framework and directly engage with CJA to meet your specific recruitment needs.

Advantages of the call-off method

Efficiency: The call-off method is known for its efficiency. It allows public bodies to bypass the lengthy and resource-intensive process of a full tendering exercise, making it a quicker way to meet your recruitment advertising requirements.

Cost Savings: By engaging directly with CJA, public bodies can often secure more competitive pricing since you are dealing with a known and established supplier. This can result in cost savings and better value for public funds.

CJA Expertise: Public bodies can leverage our expertise and deep understanding of the recruitment advertising landscape. This ensures your advertising campaign is targeted and effective in reaching the desired talent pool.

Reduced Administration: The call-off method streamlines the administrative burden associated with procurement. Public bodies can have confidence in CJA’s compliance with procurement regulations, reducing the need for extensive oversight.

Flexibility: Public bodies have the flexibility to tailor the services to their specific needs, choosing a supplier such as CJA, who aligns with your requirements, whether it be for a niche recruitment campaign or a broader hiring initiative.


ESPO frameworks offer public bodies a convenient and compliant way to procure essential goods and services. When it comes to recruitment advertising services, the call-off method, as provided by CJA, can simplify the procurement process. It offers efficiency, cost savings, vendor expertise, reduced administration, and flexibility in meeting the unique recruitment needs of public bodies.

By utilising ESPO frameworks and the call-off method via CJA, you can ensure you attract the best talent, while simultaneously adhering to procurement regulations and optimising their use of public funds.

Speak to us

To discuss procuring our recruitment advertising related services via the call off method please speak to either Jonathan McIntrye or Adam Gray

Further reading

In recent years, the concept of an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) has gained significant traction in the corporate world, aiming to articulate the unique benefits and values that an organisation offers to its employees. However, when it comes to public sector organisations in the United Kingdom, the task of defining and communicating an EVP takes on a distinctive character, aligning with employer marketing and employer brand strategies.

CJA works with a vast array of public sector bodies, from healthcare and education to law, to regulation and defence. We understand the public sector plays a pivotal role in society, providing essential services that impact the lives of millions and the scope of public sector work is vast and far-reaching. We help public sector organisations to develop and communicate effectively EVP strategies that effectively attracts and retains top talent while remaining true to their core values and mission.

Balancing purpose and professional growth: A key aspect of employer value proposition (EVP)

We understand public sector organisations in the UK are not driven by profit but by a commitment to serve the public interest. This fundamental purpose is the foundation of their EVP, which is integral to their employer brand. However, this does not negate the importance of offering a compelling value proposition to employees. Here’s how organisations can strike the delicate balance between purpose and professional growth:

  1. Mission-Driven Culture: Public sector organisations should emphasise their dedication to making a difference in society, aligning with their employer brand. By fostering a mission-driven culture, they can attract individuals who are passionate about public service and societal improvement.
  2. Professional Development: Even in the public sector, opportunities for professional growth and career advancement should be clearly communicated. Investing in employee development and providing clear pathways for advancement will attract ambitious talent and enhance the employer marketing strategy.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Offering flexible work arrangements, generous vacation time, and family-friendly policies demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of employees, addressing a key concern in the modern workplace while enhancing the employer brand.
  4. Competitive Compensation: While public sector salaries may not always match the private sector, offering competitive pay and benefits is essential to attract and retain top talent. Public sector organisations should be transparent about their compensation packages, optimising their employer marketing efforts.
  5. Diversity and Inclusion: Public sector organisations should promote and champion diversity and inclusion, creating an inclusive environment that welcomes individuals from all backgrounds. This enhances the EVP by offering a supportive, equitable workplace and positively impacting the employer brand.
  6. Job Security: Public sector organisations can emphasise the stability and job security they provide in contrast to the sometimes volatile private sector. This appeals to those seeking long-term career stability and reinforces the employer marketing strategy.
  7. Social Impact: Highlighting the tangible, positive impact that public sector employees have on their communities can be a powerful tool for attracting individuals who are passionate about making a difference, enhancing the employer brand.
  8. Innovative Work: Public sector organisations can also highlight the innovative projects and opportunities they offer, dispelling the myth that government work is bureaucratic and stagnant. This can significantly boost their employer marketing efforts.

Challenges and opportunities in crafting an EVP for public sector organisations in the UK

Crafting an EVP for public sector organizations in the UK is not without its challenges. Bureaucracy, budget constraints, and political considerations can limit flexibility. However, these challenges can be turned into opportunities for innovation and creativity.

One of the key opportunities lies in leveraging technology and data to improve service delivery, increase efficiency, and create a more agile work environment. Public sector organisations can embrace digital transformation and data-driven decision-making, attracting employees who want to be part of these transformative initiatives.


An effective EVP for public sector organisations in the UK is a delicate balance between serving a higher purpose and offering competitive career opportunities. Public sector organisations must make their commitment to the public good central to their appeal while also addressing the personal and professional needs of their employees. By emphasising these aspects, they can attract and retain a diverse, dedicated, and talented workforce, ensuring the continued success of public service in the UK, strengthening their employer brand, and optimising their employer marketing strategies.

Partnering with one of the country’s leading school groups to communicate their Employer Value Proposition whilst retaining the individual identity of each school

An ongoing employer brand strategy resulting in a 41% uplift in applications and 95.7% first time fill rate

CJA have partnered with the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) for over 10 years, acting as an extension to the 25 schools’ HR and recruitment teams. Following the appointment of their new Chief Executive, the entire Trust went through a significant re-brand. CJA were approached by the central office to assist in implementing the new brand principles across the group’s recruitment marketing and advertising. CJA relished the opportunity the rebranding exercise brought to the organisation, providing encouragement to schools to revisit how they promote themselves to candidates.

Prior to the rebranding exercise CJA had been collecting recruitment advertising performance data for each advertisement placed, in order to track and monitor not only the most effective media platforms, but also the most effective approaches to content. Combining our recruitment marketing expertise and extensive management information, we were able to make evidence-based recommendations to challenge ways of working in order to promote the benefits of the group as a whole, whilst at the same time being sensitive to the unique identities of each school.

Our approach included producing new visual identities (in line with the wider corporate branding) and developing a new content strategy.

Visually, designs were produced to ensure consistency of the brand across print, digital and social media. New bold templates allocated space for individual school logos and photography, whilst keeping to a consistent group style. This allows schools to continue to promote their individual identity, whilst also benefiting from greater brand recognition.

Whilst the visual presence is important, the greatest impact to the group’s recruitment performance so far has been the new content strategy. Stakeholders across the group were asked to think about the benefits they valued most and why they choose to work for the group and their individual schools. This enabled CJA to build a realistic Employer Value Proposition (EVP) on both an individual school level as well on a national group level. Using these defined EVPs we are now able to communicate more effectively with candidates who match GDST’s values and therefore are more likely to apply and equally important, are more likely to be retained.

The next stage was to look at the format of the advertisement themselves and how they could be more accessible. A content template was then rolled out across a number of the schools for a trial period in order for the performance to be tested and measured. On completion of the evaluation of this pilot, the new template was rolled out across the whole group. By adopting this staged approach and using the performance data, we were able to secure greater buy in across the group, especially from those who had previously been reluctant to change.

Since implementing the new content strategy and visual identity, the GDST has seen a significant uplift in both views and applications. The percentage of candidates viewing their job adverts that went on to take the next all-important step of clicking the apply button moved from 11% to 15.5% on average across all of their roles. More importantly 95.7% of posts are now filled first time.

Are you looking to improve how you communicate your Employer Value Proposition? If so, speak to us today.

Overcoming recruitment challenges through digital innovation 

Uppingham School, like many other boarding schools, occupies a large multipurpose estate, requiring a diverse range of maintenance, cleaning, and commercial staff to support its world class academic provision. However, being located in a small market town, surrounded by countryside, brings multiple challenges when recruiting for operational and business support roles. To overcome these challenges, it is vital for the School to be recognised as the employer of choice within the region and attract new audiences who may have never considered or experienced life within a boarding school.

Advertising alone cannot truly showcase the breadth of opportunities, nor can the main school website, which is naturally focussed on attracting students and parents. The solution was to create a careers website dedicated to engaging with both active and passive job seekers, from cleaners right through to senior leaders.

The careers website provides a realistic preview into working at the School and provides a platform to run far more innovative recruitment advertising and marketing campaigns, both through traditional job boards as well as social media and programmatic advertising channels.

The site is also integrated with iTrent, the School’s HR software and ATS provider. This is very much in the same way as major retailers who market their goods and services through their online shop window but redirect clients to an external payment portal to complete the transaction. This allows the School to enjoy the benefits of having a flexible and fully tailored bespoke marketing platform, able to harness the full potential of social media and wider digital advertising, whilst also having the secure environment an ATS is able to offer.

Are you facing similar recruitment challenges? If so, get in touch with us to discuss how we can raise your employer profile, make greater use of existing HR systems and attract the talent you need.

Shared knowledge and insight enabling HR and recruitment teams to influence hiring managers, challenge resistance and explore new ways of working to add value

CJA offers extensive experience and a proven track record partnering with public bodies across all regions of the UK, covering roles from AO through to SCS. This success is underpinned by our consultative approach and our commitment to being intelligence-led in everything we do, ensuring that together we achieve successful outcomes, cost-effectively.

As part of our commitment to being intelligence-led, we continuously invest in developing innovative reporting tools to track the performance of every advertisement we manage. The wealth of management information collected enables us to make far evidenced-based recommendations, in turn providing the tools for HR and recruitment teams to challenge previous ways of working. 

For instance, before the Competition and Markets Authority partnered with CJA, a large bulk of legal posts were advertised on a single legal recruitment medium regardless of the seniority of the post. This blanket approach continuously resulted in few applications being received. Combined with changes to copy and wider employer marketing activity, real time performance data is now provided across a broad spectrum of media titles and social media. This data provides the recruitment team with the tools they need to influence hiring managers’ decisions, resulting in increased applications, and improved cost and time per hire. 

This wealth of media performance intelligence enables us to provide real insight into the performance of a breadth of online media (including social media) across a huge variety of roles. This evidence clearly enables us to recommend the most cost-effective media choices for your roles.

Our innovative approaches to data however are not limited to just the advertising stage of the recruitment process. For instance, through our career microsite and candidate assessment service (which works in conjunction with Civil Service Jobs), we are able to offer improved ways of collecting and reporting on equal opportunities monitoring data. The anonymous diversity reporting data provides HR teams the tools they need to make more informed decisions in their diversity and inclusion strategy planning. 

CJA is an approved supplier on the ESPO 3A Advertising & Communications framework. This framework offers civil service and non-departmental public bodies, local government, NHS, MATS and universities a quick, simple and competitive route to procure recruitment advertising solutions. As an approved supplier we have been fully assessed for our financial stability, track record, experience and technical and professional ability.  Speak to us today to find out more.

A highly cost-effective recruitment marketing strategy that enabled Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) to recruit 130 midwifery clinicians and qualified social workers for an impressive £82.84 cost per hire

HR and recruitment teams regularly manage hiring requests on a reactive basis, i.e. replacing staff as and when notices are handed in. Often with the HR firefighter hat on, positions need to be filled quickly.  When this happens, the priority is to attract suitably qualified candidates who are available in the here and now. CJA does so using our extensive management information and high-quality copy and design. This approach works for individual posts, but when whole new departments are being created, or there is a regular need to recruit the same types of roles, a more proactive approach can be far more cost-effective. 

When approached by the NHS hosted Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch to assist in recruiting 100 + maternity investigators, CJA recognised HSIB would not have the capacity to recruit and onboard all 100 in one go. Equally, the most talented professionals they wished to attract would not all be available immediately. A more proactive and phased approach was therefore needed and one that recognised the candidate journey from generating initial interest right through to onboarding. 

Central to the success of growing this whole new investigatory service was ensuring there was a dedicated site where all candidate attraction tools could be pointed towards. A site to which candidates could be regularly encouraged to return to when they were ready to take the next step on the candidate journey. 

A mixture of passive and active job seeking advertising kick-started the campaign, directing suitably qualified candidates to the site to explore the opportunity in more detail. Those who were able to apply there and then were encouraged to do so. Meanwhile, those who were not able to apply at that moment but may want to later in the year were encouraged to register to a GDPR compliant email newsletter to be updated on future phases. The combination of the phased approach and ongoing engagement with these candidates resulted in half the posts being recruited off the back of the email alerts alone, with this ‘low cost’ approach drastically reducing investment in advertising. The result of this approach was 130 investigators were recruited for a complete spend (including website and advertising costs) of £10,770 for the 12 months. This equates to an impressive £82.84 cost per hire.

Do you have an ongoing need to recruit specific specialist posts or are you looking to set up a whole new division? If so get in touch with us to discuss how we can assist in devising a highly cost-effective recruitment marketing strategy. 

Independent advice from one of the leading recruitment advertising and marketing agencies within the education sector 

When it comes to recruiting Teachers and School Leaders, our media analysis continues to prove the TES is the leading platform to reach active job seekers who are looking for new opportunities within the education sector. However, with the TES being a premium product, it comes at a premium price which can result in the costs of the TES taking up a very significant portion of school recruitment advertising budgets.

Whether choosing to use the TES on a pay as you go basis or taking advantage of one of their annual subscription packages, ensuring you have engaging and relevant advertising copy is key in being able to recruit successfully. Our highly skilled copywriters are on hand to assist you with this.  

If you are exploring the idea of taking up a TES recruitment subscription, there are several factors worth considering

Advertising Spend 

TES recruitment subscription packages are not designed for schools to reduce the amount they spend with the TES. However, they do enable you to gain more value for money from your advertising spend, i.e. allowing advertisements to be placed in multiple categories for no extra cost, thereby increasing your reach. Similarly, you’re not faced with another big advertising bill should you need to re-advertise a role. Further, the fixed costs provide greater certainty over budgets.

Recruitment Budgets  

It is important to consider your total recruitment budget, as supposed to solely your advertising spend alone. If you are finding you are needing to go to recruitment agencies frequently, an improved advertising strategy will reduce agency costs. A TES recruitment subscription can play a key part in this along with improved advertising content, and a more efficient candidate journey and engagement strategy. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you with this.  

From a budgeting perspective, there are of course benefits to having a fixed cost for the year. However, not all subscription packages cover all roles such as Senior Leadership (Principals, Head Teachers, Assistant Heads, and Deputy Heads) and therefore you will need to factor in the possibility of contingency budgets. This is also the case for support roles, for which other media should be considered alongside the TES.


The shortage of teachers, particularly in STEM subjects, is well documented. But the national picture is not always the same on a local level. Is your school in an area where there’s intense competition or do you find that you have no trouble in attracting applications? If the former, how do you stand out ahead of your local competition for the best candidates? If the latter, how do you ensure you are getting more relevant applications from candidates that will make a long-lasting impact on your school? 

Recruitment Forecasts 

Estimating how many posts will need to be filled in the next 12 months is one of the hardest tasks for any HR/Recruitment professional, even more so in schools where recruitment is often very reactive to last-minute resignations at the end of the term. However, there are indicators that can help predict an increase in volume, i.e. change in Senior Leadership, upcoming retirees, and availability of promotion opportunities – for instance if your Heads of Departments are newly in post it is unlikely they will be looking to change roles in the next 12 months, but if they have been in the role for a while and there is no room for them to progress there is a strong chance they may decide to move on. 

Media Effectiveness and Return on Investment

How are you currently tracking your spend and the source of your candidates, i.e. when a candidate says they saw the job on your site, how did they know to look there? Which of your advertising media are resulting in applications and more importantly interviews and hires? It can be easy to assume that the TES are delivering all your candidates but this may not be the case for all subjects and roles, particularly non teaching posts. Our management reporting tools track and monitor media performance on an ongoing basis to ensure our clients receive the maximum return on investment from their advertising spend. Our extensive data also plays a key role in media buying, enabling evidence based buying decisions and assisting in media negotiations, ensuring greater value for money.

Speak to us today for impartial and independent advice on how you can get more out of your advertising with TES and other media platforms as well as alternative attraction strategies, including using social media to reach passive job seekers.  

A holistic approach to increasing applications from skilled candidates within underrepresented groups

To assist UAL in being Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) leaders CJA were asked how the University could do more to attract candidates from all backgrounds, particularly those from communities that are underrepresented within the creative arts. Our starting point was to sit down with the relevant stakeholders within the University including Recruitment, Diversity, and Marketing Managers to ascertain what content was already in place to promote their diversity credentials. It quickly transpired there was a broad range of diversity and inclusion content in place including staff testimonials and a wide range of policies to support staff from all backgrounds. However, analysing the site traffic CJA found less than 0.01% of visitors were viewing UAL’s EDI content.

CJA tested the candidate journey on the site and found that to arrive at any of the related pages required significant navigation across the site, hence the low visitor numbers. The first port of call was therefore to improve the user experience within UAL’s career pages to ensure relevant EDI content could be easily accessed by candidates. This simple change alone saw a major uplift in terms of traffic to the pages and an increase in the diversity of applications. 

Our next step was to review external activity to look at how the number of high-quality applications, particularly from underrepresented communities, could be increased further.  Our performance data, which continues to challenge preconceived assumptions, evidenced that previous attempts by the University to use EDI specialist job boards rarely produce meaningful results. This is mainly because candidate behaviour (regardless of background) when searching for jobs is to search for jobs on platforms that provide the largest choice within their chosen career specialism first, and then explore wider company credential afterwards, not the other way around. 

CJA developed a phased creative campaign strategy which incorporated innovative use of social media to target talented lecturers and creative industry professionals, whilst also evidencing the diversity across UAL’s workforce.

When it comes to meeting and delivering on creative briefs, being assessed and approved by the University of the Arts London, ranked 2nd in the world for creative education (QS World University Rankings by subject 2019) is a strong testament in our ability.

The campaign resulted in a further uplift in high-quality applications from all sections of the creative and higher education community. In comparison to the University’s previous approach and use of media, the cost to drive relevant traffic to their site dropped from £225 per candidate to £1.19. Combined with the innovative use of social media, CJA continues to advise on job descriptions, application processes, and the end to end candidate journey. 

When it comes to ensuring your workforce represents the diverse communities your organisation serves there is not a single solution. It requires a holistic approach covering all aspects of the employer marketing mix, ranging from job descriptions, attraction and candidate assessment, through to onboarding and beyond.

To discuss how we can help your organisation better represent the community it serves, please get in touch

Investing in developing a strong employer brand saves time and money in the long run by ensuring the best talent can be recruited and retained. 

A strong employer brand also benefits wider organisational aims and customer satisfaction. For this reason, CJA is often approached by clients asking how we can help them be an employer of choice. The answer to this complex question is unique to each organisation, but before we can answer this, clients are asked 4 important questions: 

1. Who do you want to attract? 

No organisation can be an employer of choice for everyone. It is important to be specific about your target market. Don’t be afraid to accept your employer brand won’t appeal to everyone, but do shamelessly promote your brand in the places where your target audiences are proven to be found. 

2. Why should prospective candidates choose your organisation? 

What does your organisation do and where is it heading? All the clients we work with exist to benefit society. Whilst they all share this common trait, how they make a difference to people’s lives varies greatly. What is unique about your organisation’s aims?

3. What is it really like to work at your organisation? 

People respond best to real life stories and particularly how existing employees have made a tangible impact in their roles; how they have been able to progress during their time within the organisation; the leadership culture; and the people they have been able to learn from. Aim to develop and encourage employer brand ambassadors across your departments – people who can enthuse others by sharing their passion for the role. 

4. How do you give a positive candidate experience that stands out from your competitors? 

The first experience most people will have of your employer brand is when looking to apply for a job with your organisation, which for many is a daunting task. The vast majority will be unsuccessful, which will leave feelings of disappointment, but this doesn’t mean they should be left with a negative experience, discouraging them, and potentially others from applying in the future. It is important to consider every stage of the candidate journey, how guidance can be communicated effectively to give them the best chance to bring the best out of themselves, how candidates are kept informed of the progress of their application and how they are treated professionally and courteously at each stage. Aim to have every candidate want to speak highly of the recruitment process, regardless of whether they are successful or not. 

The above list is not exhaustive, nor should it be considered as a one-off exercise. Most organisations are unlikely to have the capacity or resources to answer every question immediately. It is important to identify what you can do well in-house and where further expertise is needed. 

Speak to us today to discuss how our integrated marketing, advertising and recruitment solutions can best help you.