Fair Museum Jobs: A Manifesto for Job Adverts and Recruitment

This is the second formal version of the Fair Museum Jobs Manifesto. It’s a living document that has changed over time as people have raised issues and questions with us, or in light of new good practice advice. If you have any questions or suggestions for the manifesto, please contact us at

Note: New manifesto was published on Friday 19 February 2021, points 5.10, 5.11, 5.12 and 6.6 were added on Monday 22 February 2021.

We explain the changes made in this version in these blogs:


Fair Museum Jobs has divided each point in the following manifesto into three categories:

  • ‘Must’: Issues for which Fair Museum Jobs believes that there is an imperative to comply with the terms of this manifesto. Job adverts which fall short of these demands will be robustly and comprehensively challenged.
  • ‘Should’: Issues for which Fair Museum Jobs believes there is a pressing and very strong case for compliance with the terms of this manifesto. Fair Museums Jobs may challenge job adverts which fall short of these demands, while examples of best practice will be championed, as and when they appear.
  • ‘Recommendations’: Issues for which Fair Museum Jobs believes there is a strong case for compliance with the terms of this manifesto. Recommendations will be championed through examples of best practice, as and when they appear.
1. Qualifications

1.1 University Degrees, both undergraduate or postgraduate, must not be required as criteria on personal specifications. Where skills traditionally derived from academia are deemed a requirement for a role (such as subject specialism or aptitude at research, analysis, and source criticism and citation) these specific skills and knowledge areas should be required rather than blanket qualifications.

2. Salaries and Contracts

2.1 Salaries must always be clearly indicated on a job advert. For part-time jobs, both the full-time salary and the pro rata amount that would be received should be listed.

2.2 Salaries must conform to the Real Living Wage or (if within Greater London) the London Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation.

2.3 For more skilled roles, salaries should be commensurate with the required expertise, experience, and reflect the local cost of living. Remuneration should be at least in line with the Museums Association’s 2017 Salary Guidelines, recognising that they are 4 years old and inflation should be added.

2.4 Community groups or individuals who are acting as consultants for your organisation should be paid for their roles to value their time and experience.

2.5 Contract types and lengths must be clearly stated. If a contract is fixed-term, a job advert should not promise future extensions based on prospective funding without a clear and up-front discussion of the funding context.

2.6 Previous or current salaries must not be asked for during the application process.

3. Internships

3.1 The term ‘internship’ is vague and continues to mean different things to different people. Fair Museum Jobs does not recommend the use of the term, but when used it must meet the following criteria:

3.2 Internships must be paid at Real Living Wage, or London Living Wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation.

3.3 Internships must be of fixed length.

3.4 Internships must have clearly defined learning and development outcomes, which are clearly set out on the role advert.

3.5 Internships must be provided with adequate training and support, and a named manager or supervisor.

3.6 Internships must not replace roles which were previously paid jobs.

3.7 For the avoidance of doubt, internships should be advertised with the word ‘paid’ in the role title.

4. Voluntary Roles, Placements and Unpaid Labour

4.1 When advertised, a voluntary role must clearly and unambiguously be stated as such and must not be allowed to pose as a paid job. For clarity, the word ‘volunteer’ should be included in the role title.

4.2 Entitlement to reimbursement of expenses (or absence thereof) must be clearly set out in the job advert.

4.3 Voluntary roles should not be advertised with a requirement to commit more than 1 day or 8 hours per week (except for shorter-term periods) and ideally the volunteer should be able to commit as much or as little time as they like, within reasonable bounds. Volunteers can be free to choose to commit more of their time beyond this minimum.

4.4 Voluntary positions should not ask for minimum qualifications or prior experience of specialist technical knowledge (e.g collections management systems or documentation standards).

4.5 Voluntary positions must not be used to replace roles which were previously paid, or which carry duties and responsibilities one would normally expect from a paid role.

4.6 Adequate training and Personal Protective Equipment must be provided, depending on the nature of the role.

4.7 Each volunteer should have a designated supervisor, manager or mentor.

4.8 Appropriate volunteer agreements should be in place between volunteers and hosting organisations, so that the expectations of both parties are understood.

4.8 Organisations should not seek to claim title to Intellectual Property produced by their volunteers.

4.9 Commercial, profit-making organisations should not advertise for voluntary roles, with the sole exception of placements, as defined below.

4.10 Placements are understood to be fixed-term periods of unpaid work, within the context of an educational programme, with clearly defined learning and development outcomes and adequate training and support.

5. Clarity, Accessibility, Transparency and Communication

5.1 Job adverts must be clear and concise, avoid unnecessary jargon, and be as accessible as possible.

5.2 Job adverts must be clearly divided into a role profile element and personal specification element. It must be made unambiguously clear that the candidate will be assessed for their suitability for the role against the criteria of the personal specification alone.

5.3 The number and scope of the criteria on the personal specification must be proportional to the role applied for, and criteria must not be duplicated.

5.4 Criteria must be transparent and must apply to everyone equally within the bounds of the Equality Act 2010. Criteria that focus on personality traits rather than skills must be avoided.

5.5 Application methods, such as forms or portals, or covering letters with word limits, must allow applicants enough space to fully evidence how they meet the required criteria.

5.6 Job adverts must be made available in .pdf and large-print format.

5.7 Contact details for sources of further information about the post must be made available as part of the job advert, and any queries received must be answered promptly.

5.8 Job adverts must have a clearly stated closing date.

5.9 Vacancies should not close early due to volume of applications. If the closing date is extended, the extension and the reasons for it must be clearly communicated to existing applicants.

5.10 Organisations must not ask for sickness absence reports or previous parental leave periods during the application process.

5.11 Organisations must not ask for a driving license or access to a vehicle and instead should outline the requirements of the role and allow the candidate to explain how they could achieve them. Organisations must support alternative travel options in a fair and equitable way.

5.12 Organisations must not require membership of professional bodies unless they also state they will financially support this being maintained as part of the role.

6. Interview Practice

6.1 Recruiting organisations must inform all candidates about the constitution of the interview panel and format of the interview ahead of time.

6.2 Recruiting organisations should pay reasonable travel expenses to candidates who attend for interviews. Alternative interview methods e.g. video calls, should be accommodated.

6.3 Reasonable adjustment requests for interviews should be actioned without undue delay.

6.4 Interviewers should consider how they format questions e.g. keep questions short and direct, and ask positively framed questions.

6.5 Fair Museum Jobs recommends the sharing of interview questions with all candidates in advance.

6.6 Interview formats should be commensurate with the responsibility level of the role. Follow-up interviews should only be used when strictly necessary, and the purpose of the follow-up interview clearly explained in advance.

7. Feedback

7.1 Candidates invited to interview must be informed of the outcomes of those interviews in a timely fashion.

7.2 Candidates invited to interview, should they be unsuccessful, must be provided with meaningful feedback about their performance at interview.

7.3 Job applicants, should they be unsuccessful in progressing to the interview stage, should be informed of the outcome of shortlisting in a timely fashion.

7.4 Job applicants, should they be unsuccessful in progressing to the interview stage, should be provided with feedback regarding their applications.

7.5 Fair Museum Jobs recommends not giving feedback at the same time as giving the recruitment outcome. Allow unsuccessful candidates time to absorb the result of the process before receiving feedback.

7.6 Those giving feedback must ensure as far as possible that it is constructive, actionable and honest.

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This version of the Manifesto is dated February 2021. In the interests of transparency, our previous manifesto from 2018 (with edits in 2019 and 2020) can be downloaded here as a PDF: