The purpose of advertisements

All vacancies over six months duration should be advertised in line with the School's Recruitment Policy .

Advertisements should aim to attract suitable candidates to apply for the position and both market the benefits of vacancy and working for the School to a wide audience. Advertisements should aim to limit the number of unsuitable candidates for the vacancy.

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Structure of an advertisement

The first paragraph should contain one or two brief sentences which set the context of the role or the Department. It may not be necessary to include this information for general administrative positions if the context of the department is not important. It is not necessary to include much detail, as such information is easily accessible on the School's website.

The second paragraph should promote the vacancy by highlighting one or two of the most attractive features of the position or highlighting key responsibilities. For example, “You will play a key role in researching good practice and supporting the development of the curriculum across the School”.

The final paragraph should summarise the key selection criteria required for the role and must directly relate to the person specification . It should not introduce new selection criteria for the role.

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Wording and style

The style of the advertisement should be appropriate to the nature of the position. Sentences should be short, clear and easy to understand. Paragraphs should be short and thereby easy to read. Aim for a maximum of forty words per paragraph.

If you are advertising a non-academic position, it is best practice to address candidates directly by using the word ‘You'. This helps personalise the advertisement to candidates and helps them identify with the role and its requirements. For example, instead of “Candidates must have …..”, use “You should have…..”.

When writing academic (teaching and research) advertisements avoid giving too much detail on the Department or the Faculty, just give sufficient information to attract candidates to obtain the job pack that will contain detailed particulars, job descriptions and person specifications.

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Information to be added by Human Resources

The HR Directorate will add the following information to your advertisement:

  • Salary: this will help attract candidates by ensuring they know what salary to expect if they are successful and can act as limit to deter unsuitable candidates.
  • Hours of work/FTE for part-time positions
  • Duration of contract for fixed-term positions
  • Vacancy reference number; this will be a unique number generated by the HR Web Recruitment system
  • Information that tells the candidates how to apply for your vacancy.
  • Closing date which will be in line with the Recruitment Policy and will be counted from the date of publication. Note that in order to apply for a work permit/certificate of sponsorship for a successful candidate, the School will be required to advertise the position for a specific period.

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Ensure your advertisement does not potentially discriminate against candidates by:

  • Containing directly or indirectly discriminatory criteria. For example, it should be made clear that fully comparable overseas qualifications will be as acceptable as a UK qualification.
  • Using gender neutral language
  • Avoid the use of jargon or abbreviations that may not be understood by overseas candidates.

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Placing of advertisements

In line with the School's Recruitment Policy , all positions of over one year's duration should be advertised externally. The publication should be appropriate to the nature of the vacancy. For example, if you are advertising an academic (teaching and research) position, you will need to consider if the Guardian, Times Higher Education Supplement or a specialist journal will be the most appropriate medium or whether advertising solely on the website will be sufficient. If you decide to use a specialist journal or publication, you should ensure that the advertisement will not exclude or reduce the numbers of applicants from a particular racial group.

Your designated Human Resources Officer and the School's advertising agency can give guidance on the placement of advertisements if you are unsure of the most appropriate medium. Remember that the UK Border Agency set specific advertising criteria in relation to the Points Based System for Immigration.

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When planning your advertisement consider:

  • The time of year. Advertising during certain periods (e.g. Christmas, August) is likely to lead to a poor response in terms of numbers of suitable candidates.
  • Your recruitment timetable which you will need to agree with your designated HR Officer. Ensure that the shortlisting panel is scheduled to review the applications shortly after the closing date.  It is also helpful to notify candidates at advertising stage of the interview date if possible, to minimise the number of candidates withdrawing their application because they cannot attend the interview.
  • Any external research grant requirements (if applicable). Some grants require the post-holder to start by a specific date – you will need to factor this in when planning your advertisement and the recruitment timetable.
  • Media deadlines – most publications have print deadlines and therefore the Human Resources Directorate will need to provide a copy of the advertisement to the agency at least one week before the publication deadline.
  • When your post will be authorised for advertising in line with the School's Recruitment Policy. New or changed positions must be authorised by Executive Board. External research grant funded positions must be approved by the Research Manager (or delegate).  It may take some time for the Human Resources Directorate to receive the authorisation via the Web Recruitment System.


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House style

All advertisements that appear in print media will be formatted in the School's house style by the School's advertising agency.

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Work permit/Certificate of Sponsorship criteria for advertisements

When issuing a certificate of sponsorship, the School has to give details of its recruitment campaign for the candidate, and verify that the role has been advertised in publications approved by the UK Border Agency in the relevant Code of Practice, and that it has also been advertised in JobCentre Plus for a minimum of 4 weeks.

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Composite Staff Advertisements

The Human Resources Directorate will automatically composite advertisements of a similar nature in the same publication. The order of appearance of advertisements will normally depend on salary and seniority.

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Example Advertisement

The following fictional advertisement provides an illustration of the style, structure of a fictional advertisement for an administrative position. The first paragraph sets the context of the School and Department. The second paragraph briefly describes the nature of the role and should focus on the one or two most attractive features of the vacancy to sell the role. The final paragraph summarises the key selection criteria for the role which candidates should possess for your vacancy.

Personal Assistant to the Dean

SOAS is the world's leading centre for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East and has more than 3000 students. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities carries out internationally important research as well as providing a diversity and stimulating range of postgraduate and undergraduate courses to its students.

You will provide a comprehensive Personal Assistant service supporting the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Your role as PA will be varied and will include managing the Dean's diary, organising travel, setting up meetings, drafting reports and managing administrative systems.

You should be able to work independently and possess a high level of organisational and administrative skills in order to manage and prioritise a varied workload. With excellent interpersonal skills, you will enjoy working as part of a team. You should also be proficient in word-processing.

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