Attracting candidates

Successful candidate attraction relies on effective measures being applied when advertising a vacancy. These measures are described below.

Please note the additional requirements if you are recruiting to academic appointments.


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    A job advert has one objective: to attract a perfect candidate to your vacancy. To do so, you need to inspire interest and sell your role to all candidates, many of whom will be looking passively. 

The recruitment market is highly competitive and this is your opportunity to differentiate your role, and the University of Oxford as an employer, from our competitors.   
Here are some tips to consider:

  • Structure your advert with headings

Headings provide structure to your job advert. Even simple techniques like bolding keywords help job seekers focus on key content. Remember most people skim hundreds of job adverts at a time, you  need to make an impression quickly.

  • Language 

Avoid using bullet points– instead use detailed text to tell a story.

Use positive language with a focus on what is in it for the candidate and which will help them imagine themself in the role. Be passionate and, use the second person (you) and a ‘needs supply’ approach rather than ‘demands abilities’, 

For example,

“You will have the opportunity to collaborate with talented people (needs supply)” 
 Rather than “The successful candidate will be required to show (demands abilities)”

You will have the opportunity to spell out all the requirements in the job description. 

Try to avoid jargon and Oxford-specific terminology where possible as this can create barriers to attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds.

  • Avoiding discrimination

Be aware that some language could be deemed as discriminatory or may be perceived to have gendered bias.
Some adjectives such as ‘lively’, youthful', ‘dynamic' or ‘mature' could be seen as discriminatory, and should be avoided. Similarly, words like “junior” and “senior” should only be used to describe the post’s position in the department’s hierarchy and not imply the age of the postholder.

Advertising for a certain level or number of years experience can be seen as a proxy for age and therefore may be considered discriminatory. Instead focus on the actual job requirements and qualities and skills an applicant needs to be able to demonstrate to successfully complete job tasks.

If qualifications are required, ensure that they are necessary. For example a DPhil is appropriate for a postdoctoral research post or a professional qualification for clinical post. However, you should not request qualifications such as a degree as a shorthand for a particular skillset. Where qualifications are requested, wherever possible include wording such as ‘or equivalent experience’ to avoid indirect discrimination (for example from older applicants who may not have had the opportunity to gain a degree but can demonstrate the required job related skills through prior experience). NB A degree must not be an essential requirement for any post in grades 1-5.

Avoid any language relating to physical abilities such as ‘active’ or ‘fit’, and instead explain the required activities. Bear in mind that reasonable adjustments should be made for candidates with disabilities.  So, for example, instead of saying ‘must be physically fit’ say ‘the job will involve patrolling a large area over multiple floors with no access to a lift’  and give further details in the job description.

Avoid requirements such as ‘full, clean driving licence’ unless the role could not be adapted, for example because the role is primarily a delivery driver and alternative means of travel could not be used. 

Avoid gender bias - research shows that women and men respond to language differently and that female candidates may be put off by male-coded words. Make use of  resources such as free gender decoding apps to help diversify your adverts:

If in doubt, seek advice to ensure your recruitment is inclusive. 

  • Describing the role

Convey the culture and environment as well as the role. This can be as important to candidates as the job itself. Make sure that you convey a sense of what it’s like to work in your department, and emphasise the processes and relationships involved in the role as well as the end outcomes, for example:
"As a core member of our small, friendly team…"

For the external promotion of jobs via social media

Using real images of your office will give your job advert more authenticity. A video is also great for conveying quality content that showcases the department/Oxford. Consider including people stories and/or, career journeys through a storytelling approach. If you do want to include people be mindful of data protection issues and ensure that you have the necessary permissions.

Consider what impression you are giving through any image/video you use, does it represent an inclusive, diverse workforce or reinforce stereotypes about who does a certain role and who belongs?

We can broaden the appeal of a job if we write with the following in mind taken from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Further information on this model can be found here.

Our job adverts need to reflect a story about working for us and reflect our personality.

The ‘SUCCESs’ mnemonic is a tried and tested guide to creating a compelling copy to entice candidates, we should adhere to these principles in our adverts:

  • S imple
  • U nexpected
  • C oncrete
  • C redible
  • E motional
  • S tories
  • S o, the word is spelled properly


The first 150 words of a job advert are key and we must ensure we provide enough concise information to ‘hook’ the candidate:
•    Why is it a good opportunity?
•    What’s the challenge we need their expertise for?
•    Why would they want to come here?

We want our adverts to have a candidate-centric approach, the key message should be what is in it for the candidate, this approach focuses on how the position will provide them with career progression, autonomy and job opportunities through storytelling.

Ensure that all adverts state the University of Oxford as the employer. With the increase of job aggregators it is important to ensure all adverts are branded correctly. See the latest University’s style/brand view guidance here

Include the following:

  • How to apply: How/where candidates can access the job description and information about how to apply
  • Contract details: If the role is fixed-term, state the duration of the appointment and, where possible, the reason, such as maternity leave cover. Avoid giving a specific start/end date unless the funding is absolutely strict to dates. Adverts should not generate expectations of contract renewal unless this is specifically stated in the terms of the grant supporting the post. In such cases, where departments wish to indicate an expectation of renewal, include 'with a possibility of renewal’ or 'in the first instance' after the specified duration. 
  • Opportunities for flexible working: If you are advertising a full-time role but would be open to considering a less-than-full-time contract (e.g. 0.8 FTE) or other flexible working options, make this clear in the advert. It may help you to attract highly qualified candidates who would otherwise discount the role.
  • Vacancy ID: If you are advertising externally and wish to ‘signpost’ your advert on the University Jobs website, quote the vacancy ID from the Recruitment Dashboard  in your external advert. 
  • Where appropriate DBS or security/other screening: Include the following statement in the advert/job description: 
    • “Owing to the nature of this position, any offer of employment with the University will be subject to a satisfactory XXX [state type of screening]”. 
  • Research passport/honorary contract: If a research passport/honorary contract is required for the role, this should be detailed in the job description and/or advert. 
  • Clinical registration (eg for nurses and consultants): When advertising for clinical, nursing or midwifery appointments, please state the successful candidate will need to provide proof of their registration with the appropriate body, eg NMC or GMC.

See below advert structure guidance. An example advert can be found on the right hand side of this page. 
Please ensure all adverts are within the 500 words / 3500 characters limit 

Job Title

Some job titles are very specific to the University and may not be understood by external applicants. A more generic job title can be used for advertising with the specific job title outlined in the job description. 


Location of the role

To satisfy Home Office requirements ensure Oxford is included in the location but it is recommended to also detail where the job is based, such as Oxford city centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, etc, so that candidates can make an informed decision about whether the location of the role is suitable for them.


Grade and Salary

To enable redeployees to identify suitable alternative job opportunities and satisfy Home Office requirements the appropriate salary and allowances should be stated in the advert.

The ‘Pay Scale’ field is a set field using pre-defined data in the system.

The salary range will be pre-populated for standard grades, ie grades 1-10. For other grades, HR administrators will need to enter details manually, as applicable.

If the criteria for using the discretionary range have been met, the following wording should be used: 

XX,XXX - XX,XXX with a discretionary range to XX,XXX per annum (pro-rata) 

If you are restricted from posting the salary, add contact details, candidates will take the time to reach out if they are seriously interested in the role.

Please refer to the ‘Prepare and authorise a vacancy for advertising’ How-to guide for more detailed instructions.

Section Title: About the Role

Introduction – the ‘why’
•    Why is it a good opportunity for them?
•    Why is it a positive change? The majority of people looking at the advert will be in a job already. What      are the opportunities, benefits, etc? 
•    Why is it interesting? Describe current/future projects, technology and tools, team culture, etc

Opportunity – the ‘what’
•    What will they be doing on a day to day basis? What are the main duties and responsibilities?
•    What impact will the role have on the team and Oxford as a whole?

Use the second person (you, your) to engage readers and draw them into the job advert.


Hours of work

Where the role is part-time, the percentage of the FTE should be stated. Do not state the number of working hours. If you are advertising a full-time role but would consider a part-time appointment, say so. 

Please use the following as appropriate:

•       You will be based in X as your normal place of work OR
•       You will be based in X but there may be the opportunity for occasional remote working OR
•       You will be based in X but you may / will be able to agree a pattern of regular remote working with your line manager.

Section Title: About You

Share information on what the ideal candidates look like including the qualifications, skills and experience required for the role. 
Refer for specific information required if a Skilled Worker visa application is required.

Section Title: Application Process

Statement to include:

Where appropriate please contact [enter recruiter email address] for an informal chat about the role.  

Please refer to placing links into advert text for guidance here.

The application process, where can job descriptions be found, how will applications be made. 

The next steps, candidates want to know what happens once they have applied. If possible, indicate when shortlisting and interviews will take place. Giving candidates a clear expectation of when they will hear from you - reduces the risk and fear and will increase the likelihood of great talent applying. 

The closing date and time for applications. Closing time should be midday. Avoid closing adverts during weekends or major holidays, to give yourself and applicants the best access to support in case you or they need it. Consistent use of closing dates ensures that decisions as to the inclusion/exclusion of candidates from consideration on grounds of the date of receipt of the application can be made fairly. 

Avoid closing adverts on Thursdays where possible (due to system updates routinely applied on Wednesday evenings) and always check for any other planned system downtime.

Section Title: Diversity

Equality statement

For academic posts: Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in academic posts in Oxford. 

For all other posts - Committed to equality and valuing diversity.

For the latest information on diversity please click here.  

The strict Tier 2 visa rules on where and how long to advertise no longer apply, but under the Skilled Worker visa rules the applicant must still meet the 'qualifications required' as listed in the job description/ further particulars, and the role must be a 'genuine vacancy'.

Advert printouts, previously required under Tier 2, are no longer necessary. Instead, under the Skilled Worker visa rules, information (rather than documents) about the recruitment to the role must be retained. Information on the requirements for sponsorship are found on the Staff Immigration Team website.

In addition to information provided in the internal application form, where a role was advertised and the chosen candidate required a Skilled Worker visa, the Staff Immigration Team will also rely on vacancy details held in the University's HR systems in the event of a Home Office audit. Departments/faculties should therefore ensure that all the key steps are taken to update and close vacancies.

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Vacancies should be set up in the Recruitment Dashboard, to appear on the University jobs website (please refer to the HR Systems How-To guides).


Back to top is an international job board for jobs in academic, research, science and related professions, in the Higher Education and related sectors.

All jobs at grades 4 and above advertised on the University's jobs website (externally) should be sent to

The Standard Advert service is free to use for University departments. Vacancies may be advertised for up to two months. Please refer to the how-to guidance on the HR Systems website to send your vacancy for listing on the website.

There are two additional advert options available from The services and costs to the department are described below:

Standard Advert+

  • A branded header image
  • The University of Oxford logo next to job title in search results

Cost £125


Enhanced Advert

  • Fully branded bespoke job advert
  • Unlimited words
  • Branded header image
  • The University of Oxford logo next to job title in search results
  • Vacancy highlighted with a blue box in search results
  • Free further particulars and additional logos
  • Supports video content

Cost £440

See a case study of where the enhanced advert package was used.

Please contact Louise Woolridge, Account Manager at, if you have any questions or would like to discuss these options.

Departments wanting to optimise recruitment, particularly for hard to fill roles, can post their jobs on LinkedIn.

There are two ways of doing this:-

  1. You can post from your individual account.

    This is free of charge.
    Please see the guidance, How to post on LinkedIn, under further information on this page.

  2. You can post a job from your individual account.

    The post will be linked to the University LinkedIn account and have maximum exposure.
    Each LinkedIn user can post one free job every 12 months.
    If you have used the posting already you will have to pay to post a job by using a credit card.
    We have been advised that the cost will be c.£100 per job. 
    Please see the guidance, How to post a job on LinkedIn, under further information on this page.

University Media Agency: TMP

Departments may wish to consider additional external advertising sources. For media advertising, eg specialist websites or magazines, the TMP advertising agency (with whom the University has a discount) should be used. TMP can advise departments on appropriate media for different roles and will provide circulation figures and cost estimates. You are advised to confirm any additional costs for this service with TMP on a case-by-case basis. Departments will be invoiced on a monthly basis via email or by post, according to individual preference. The full guidance is available in a PDF pack below:

TMP can also produce management information reflecting the feedback from each media used showing which was more effective in targeting the required audience. This may help inform future decision-making about which media to use for specific posts.

If you have any further questions, please contact: Shanta Persaud Client Service Coordinator, 020 8501 9722.

Total Career Solutions

E-recruitment specialist Richard Bunkham at Total Career Solutions, can provide a broad range of specialist recruitment services to University departments and faculties.

For further information about the services and associated fees, please contact Richard Bunkham

HR system steps: 

Record any additional external advertising in the Recruitment Dashboard.


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HR system steps: 

Record the vacancy status and key recruitment events in the Recruitment Dashboard. Please refer to the HR Systems How-To guides.


This helps the University to continue to carry out its equal opportunities monitoring and reporting, and ensures the recruitment process is properly managed, eg by enabling reporting on the success of advert placements, production of recruitment correspondence, etc. Where sponsorship for a Skilled Worker visa is required for a role the Staff Immigration Team will rely on vacancy details held in the University's HR systems in the event of a Home Office audit. The data is also used to support important institutional initiatives such as Athena SWAN.

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