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: http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com

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.

Grade X: £XX,XXX - £XX,XXX per annum (pro rata)

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

Grade X: £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.


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).

 

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Jobs.ac.uk 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 jobs.ac.uk.

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 jobs.ac.uk website.

There are two additional advert options available from jobs.ac.uk. 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 £330

 

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 £430

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


Please contact Kerry Walker, Account Manager at jobs.ac.uk, if you have any questions or would like to discuss these options.

Departments wanting to optimise recruitment, particularly for hard to fill roles, can use the University LinkedIn account.

To request a LinkedIn job slot, please complete the LinkedIn form and send this to the team at linkedin@admin.ox.ac.uk.

A two-week LinkedIn job slot is available at a cost of £100.

Please note that the number of LinkedIn job slots available is limited.

In addition to the LinkedIn job slots, the Senior Appointments Team are providing a LinkedIn search service with three solutions available for hiring managers. 
The three solutions are:

  • LinkedIn Posting
  • LinkedIn Plus 
  • LinkedIn Premium   

These solutions are aimed at complementing your existing advertising and recruitment process, with the aim of  increasing the awareness of your opportunity, and ensuring both passive and active job applicants are reached.


LinkedIn Posting

What does this include?
Improved awareness of your role with an individual LinkedIn posting for the last two weeks of an advert. 

  • We will review and advise on your advert to ensure search optimisation and avoid usage of any language that could be perceived as discriminatory
  • The LinkedIn posting will be live for the last two weeks of your advert

Cost 
The cost is £150, this is recharged to your department.

When do I need to make contact?
Please contact the team one week before the live date for the advert.

What do I need to do next?
Step one: Please complete the LinkedIn form, selecting the LinkedIn Posting option.
Step two: Please provide a copy of your advert text one week before the live date for the advert.


LinkedIn Plus
In an increasingly virtual and competitive world of recruitment, the best candidates may be only a few clicks away. However, the challenge can be engaging with those who are looking passively as well as those who are not familiar with the University as an employer, or maybe think the University is 'not for them'.

All candidates respond best to a personal approach. The LinkedIn Plus solution offers a personal approach, underpinned with targeting and helps to ‘signpost’ candidates to your opportunity.

What does this include?
Improved awareness of a role with an individual LinkedIn posting for up to 28 days, in tandem with your advert. A target list generated on LinkedIn and the opportunity highlighted to those individuals.  

  • We will review and advise on your advert to ensure search optimisation and avoid usage of any language that could be perceived as discriminatory
  • We will create an individual LinkedIn posting for up to 28 days 
  • We will speak with the recruiting manager about the specific opportunity to gain insights into the role requirements and understand the profile they are looking for
  • We will conduct a search on LinkedIn highlighting relevant profiles. We will then forward the LinkedIn posting to this target list, highlighting the specific opportunity

The benefits of LinkedIn Plus

  • A cost-effective solution to access difficult to reach, passive talent, and ‘signpost’ them to your opportunity
  • Engages the right talent through innovative research and social media platforms 
  • Improves diversity, as it can reach candidates who may not otherwise look at University of Oxford jobs. Engagement with candidates is based on qualifications for the role regardless of background, ethnicity, age, gender, etc 
  • Reaches talented candidates who aren't actively looking for jobs or considering the University as an employer (referred to as ‘passive candidates’)

Cost
The cost is £350, this is recharged to your department.

When do I need to make contact?
Please contact the team when the post is approved by the divisional recruitment panel.
The team will then organise a 30 minute meeting with the recruiting manager two weeks before the live date.

What do I need to provide?
Step one: Please complete the LinkedIn form, selecting the LinkedIn Plus option.
Step two: Please provide a copy of the advert text and further particulars before the meeting with the recruiting manager. 


LinkedIn Premium
This is the extension to LinkedIn Plus. It is a personalised approach where candidates are actively engaged with and informed of the opportunity. Furthermore, it provides encouragement and assistance with applications.  
 

The four steps of our solution are: 

  1. The brief – We’ll speak with the recruiting manager about the specific opportunity to gain insights into the role requirements and opportunities
  2. Social research – Our research-led approach means we’re able to identify and target your passive audience through various social channels and contact prospective candidates, who may not have considered your job opportunities before
  3. Response management – We will engage and encourage applications
  4. Delivery – We will provide you with a long list of profiles
     

What does this include?

  • We will review and advise on your advert to ensure search optimisation and avoid usage of any language that could be perceived as discriminatory.
  • We will create an individual LinkedIn posting for 28 days of your advert
  • We will speak with the recruiting manager about the specific opportunity to gain insights into the role requirements and understand the desired profile
  • We will conduct a search on LinkedIn highlighting relevant profiles. We will then forward the LinkedIn posting to this target list, highlighting this specific opportunity
  • We will individually encourage potentially suitable candidates to engage and apply and assist with any queries (candidates will need to apply through the normal route and by the advertised deadline)
  • We will provide a longlist for recruiting managers, indicating which profiles have been contacted, of these, which have applied for the vacancy.

Cost 
The cost is £750, this is recharged to your department.

When do I need to make contact?
Please contact the team here when the post is approved by the divisional recruitment panel.
The team will then organise a 30-minute meeting with the recruiting manager two weeks before the live date.

What do I need to provide?
Step one: Please complete the LinkedIn form, selecting the Linkedin Premium option.
Step two: Please provide a copy of your advert text and further particulars before the meeting with the recruiting manager.

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: Abigail Smith, 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

External Recruitment Agencies

The University has agreed capped fixed price fees with both Perrett Laver and Minerva executive search recruitment firms.

For further advice or information on these agreements, please contact the Purchasing team at purchasing@admin.ox.ac.uk or 01865 616022. 

 

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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