Hiring your first postdoc is an important step for your growth as a new PI. A talented postdoc can help you drive your research agenda forward and generate publications. But postdoc applicants are often advised to look for positions in established labs with strong placement records rather than take a chance on a new PI. It’s probably advice you heard yourself not too long ago. However, as you also probably know, there are several advantages to being a postdoc in a newly-established lab that are highly appealing to certain candidates. One major thing you can do to up your chances of attracting stellar postdoc candidates is to play up these advantages in your advertising.  

Think like a startup

A job ad is crucial in shaping a potential candidate’s first impression of you, especially when you don’t yet have the name recognition that more senior faculty have. Here’s where you can borrow a technique from industry to help sell candidates on the opportunity to do a postdoc in your newly-established research group. If you read job ads from startups, they don’t shy away from the fact that candidates will be part of a very small team, expected to wear multiple hats, and work on projects of varying sizes. They include requirements like, “an independent work ethic and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get dirty” or a “no-task-is-too-small attitude.” At the same time, startup job ads also stress the fact that candidates will “be given significant responsibility and autonomy” or “benefit from short internal decision making.” These very requirements and opportunities often make startups very appealing to job seekers. You can use the same technique to sniff out postdocs who understand what you’re looking for and will be excited by the opportunity to be supervised by a new PI

So what does this look like in practice?

Most postdoc ads follow a pretty standard template, describing the project, necessary qualifications, selection process, employment terms (sometimes called something like “our offer”), and required application materials. The project description, qualifications, and employment terms sections are the ones you can use to really sell yourself and the opportunity to be one of the founding members of your lab. 

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Here are some examples of the types of phrases you can include in your job ad that will get potential postdocs interested in applying. Feel free to riff on them and make them your own–or just copy/paste them.

These are short sentences, but they can go a long way in shaping the way potential postdocs view your job ad. You’re not going to appeal to everyone, but at this crucial stage of your career, you want to choose your hires carefully. Your first postdoc should be excited about working for you and helping put your lab on the map. By being explicit in your job ad about the opportunities you can offer them, you can increase the number of relevant applications you get. 

Wait, there’s more 

Looking for a bit more advice about how to write your first postdoc ad? Download our postdoc advertising toolkit. It guides you through the job ad section by section so you don’t forget anything important. Plus it includes some tips for promoting your vacancy on social media so you increase your ad’s visibility. 

Make sure you’re also subscribed to Recruiter Advice, so you don’t miss any of our upcoming posts, like the top five things postdocs candidates look for in a job ad.

Download your free postdoc advert toolkit

Advertising your postdoc position online is as simple as writing your job ad and publishing it online, right? Wrong. Having your ad online is no good if candidates can’t find it or don’t click on it. To make sure that promising postdoc candidates find your ad, you need to optimize the text for digital recruitment. Here are our top tips to get started. 

Make it searchable

Whether potential candidates are using Google, your university’s career page, or an external job board, they search for postdoc opportunities with keywords like, “papyrology postdoc” or “postdoc in language acquisition Germany”. So when you sit down to write your ad, try to think like your candidate and use the terms that they will search for throughout your advert. Search tools look at several parts of a web page to determine what it’s about and repeating keywords in the ad text is an easy way to signal who the ad will be relevant for.

Be specific with your title

Try to also think about what keywords candidates might be searching for when you choose the title for your ad. Titles like “postdoc position” or “postdoc position in the Department of Engineering” are too broad to rank highly in search results and don’t signal to potential candidates that this position is relevant to their interests. Stellar candidates won’t click on your ad if you make them guess what field the position is in. Instead, try a title like “postdoc position in electrical engineering at University X” or, even better, “postdoc position in the optimization of ultrathin solar cells.” 

Your ad’s “slug” (the part of the URL that identifies the specific page) usually matches the page title (in this case, the ad title) which makes it even more important to use keywords in your title. The slug is one of the clues Google uses to determine what the page is about. If your title/slug is too broad, potential candidates won’t be able to easily find your postdoc ad. 

Start strong

You’ve probably been told it’s important to start your ad off with a catchy opening sentence to get potential candidates’ attention and convince them to keep reading. This is true, but a strong opening line also serves another purpose in digital advertising. Google, external job boards, and social media platforms automatically excerpt the opening line as the “meta description” or page summary. This means your first sentence has to not only convince potential postdoc applicants to keep reading your ad, it also has to convince them to click on it. When you start writing your ad, try to think of a 150 to 160 character opener that will look good in a Google snippet, search results list, or a social media preview. 

Download your free postdoc advert toolkit

Get your free postdoc advert toolkit with our top tips for writing and sharing a postdoc advert that will make candidates excited to apply.

Download now

Use section headings

When writing for digital, it’s important to break up your ad text into paragraphs with section headings. Many people read job ads on their phones and walls of text are off putting and difficult to read.  Using section headings makes it easier for postdoc candidates to skim your ad and find the information they’re most interested in, like the requirements, or application deadlines. Using bullet points in your ad is another way to make it easier to read on a mobile device.  

One postdoc per ad

Try to avoid advertising multiple postdocs in the same job post unless they’re for the same project. Combining multiple postdoc opportunities into the same advert might seem like a savvy way to save money when advertising outside your university’s career page, but it’s not very search-friendly. Your ad will be irrelevant for half the people that find it and you’re making potential applicants do unnecessary extra work searching through the page to find the vacancy that’s relevant to their research interests. 

This advice goes double for combining both a postdoc and PhD vacancy in the same advert. These are two different keywords with distinct audiences. Don’t make it hard for potential applicants to find the postdoc opportunity they’re searching for. 

Want more?

Now that you know how to write a postdoc ad that’s web friendly, why not take it a step further? Download our postdoc ad toolkit to learn how to write a compelling job ad, create awareness of your vacancy, and measure the success of your recruitment efforts.

Want to learn more about recruiting postdocs, including some tips for how to write an appealing ad when you’re a new PI? Subscribe to Recruiter Advice so you don’t miss any of our upcoming posts. 

Download your free postdoc advert toolkit

Social media is an important tool for recruitment, but it’s often overlooked in the academic sector. There are a lot of benefits to sharing your PhD advert on social media, especially now that the oldest members of Generation Z are starting to apply to grad school. 

Sharing your advert on social media increases your chances of reaching relevant candidates. Candidates don’t check your institution’s or lab’s careers page every day, but they do check social media every day. Candidates are more likely to see your PhD ad if you share it on channels that they actively check. Using social media also allows you to reach out to passive candidates who aren’t actively searching for a PhD position or checking job boards. 

You’ll even reach future candidates by sharing your vacancy on social media. Future candidates are people who aren’t able to apply for a vacant position even if they’re interested in it. When it comes to PhD positions, bachelor’s and new master’s students are future candidates. They don’t yet have the necessary qualifications to apply for a PhD but still casually read PhD ads. Sharing your vacancy on social media can help keep you on their radar so they seek you out as a potential supervisor once they’re ready to apply for a PhD. 

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your recruitment on the three biggest social media platforms:

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Get your free PhD advert toolkit with our top tips for writing and publishing a PhD advert that will make candidates excited to apply.

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Twitter

Twitter is widely viewed as the most popular platform for academics to share and connect with each other. Utilize relevant hashtags like #academicjobs #researchjobs and #sciencejobs to increase your tweet’s reach. You can also use emojis in your tweet to stand out in the feed. Try to find one that is relevant to the PhD project or research field or use some more general ones like: ⭐️ 📅 📌 📍 📝 ✅ 📣 💻 . Adding a picture is another great way to catch people’s eye. You can use a recent picture of your research group or cool figure from a recent publication. If you’re feeling a bit creative, you could even create a simple infographic with key dates or project description. An infographic is also a great way to get around the 280 character limit and share more detailed information about your PhD opportunity. 

Facebook

Facebook isn’t as popular among Gen Z as it is among older generations and the platform makes it difficult to reach people who are outside of your personal network of friends. However, Facebook groups can be a great way to share your job ad with an interested audience. Private groups have had a resurgence in the last couple of years and membership is on the rise. Users also tend to engage more with content shared in groups than on their newsfeed. Some popular groups for PhD positions are PhD and postdoc positions (400,000+ members), International PhD, Postdoc and Faculty Positions (115,000+ members) and Master, PhD, and Postdoc Scholarships (95,000+ members). You can also search for groups that are country or field specific. 

LinkedIn

Though it’s not as popular with academics, LinkedIn is the most used platform when it comes to job advertising. Like Facebook, LinkedIn groups are a valuable place to share your job advert to reach relevant candidates. You can also reach people outside of your network by posting about your vacancy and setting the sharing settings to “anyone”. This will also share the post with people who follow you but aren’t connected to you. Finally, use hashtags like #phdjobs and #phdposition to help relevant candidates find your vacancy. 

Now that you know the best ways to share your PhD ad on social media, download our free PhD advert toolkit to learn how to write a compelling advert and measure your results. 

Download your free PhD advert toolkit

Writing a PhD job ad is always challenging, but writing one for a new generation of applicants who have different motivations and work habits from you makes the task even more challenging.

Now that the average Millennial is in their early 30s, the oldest members of Generation Z are graduating university and starting to apply for PhDs. Gen Zers are people born roughly between 1997 and 2012, making them currently between 23 and 8 years old. Compared to previous generations, Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse and predicted to be the best-educated generation yet. They don’t remember a world before smartphones and are constantly online. They tend to be more concerned about their academic performance and willing to work hard to achieve their goals. They’re also socially conscious and more prone to mental health problems. 

Attracting Gen Z to your PhD positions

Gen Z values different things in their workplace (including graduate school) than previous generations. So how does this affect your PhD recruitments? What should you include in your PhD adverts to appeal to Gen Z?

Work life balance

Members of Generation Z aren’t lazy and are more than willing to put in some extra hours when needed, however they don’t live to work. They value employers who allow for flexible working hours and offer the option to work remotely. Fortunately PhD students often have greater control over their schedules and working hours than most employees, which is something you should mention in your job ad. You should also include that is is possible to work from home occasionally if this is true at your institution. 

Download your free PhD advert toolkit

Get your free PhD advert toolkit with our top tips for writing and publishing a PhD advert that will make candidates excited to apply.

Download now

Workplace culture

The new generation also places a great emphasis on the culture of their workplace. They like to feel that they are part of something bigger and supported by a community. While a PhD position does require independent work, make sure to emphasize in your advert that candidates will be joining a community such as a research group or department. This generation is prone to loneliness and enjoys working face to face with other people. Your PhD advert will appeal more to them if it lets them know that they won’t be in it alone. 

Mental health resources

Generation Z reports higher stress and anxiety levels compared to previous generations. Considering that graduate students are six times more likely to experience depression or anxiety than the general population, showing that you care about your PhD students’ mental health will make you a more attractive employer in Gen Z’s eyes. Do PhD students at your university have access to university mental health resources? Do they get paid vacation and sick days or other health benefits? Adding information like this to your job ad will help your PhD advert stand out and signal that you’re an employer who encourages a healthy lifestyle and greater well-being.

Social responsibility

Today’s young adults place a high importance on having a job that’s meaningful. They highly value employers who are working to make a positive difference in society and, if fact, 30% say they would take a 10-20% pay cut to work for a company with a mission that they really care about. Keep this in mind when writing the PhD project description. Make sure to address the big questions the project will answer and how the research findings will have a positive impact on the world.

Diversity

In a recent survey, Gen Z candidates said an organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is an important factor in choosing an employer. Their definition of diversity is also broader than previous generations, who tend to focus on age, religion, sexual identity, gender, race, and ability. Gen Z values diverse personalities, experiences, ideas, and opinions as well. This is something you can stress in your job ad. Are you open to candidates with slightly non-traditional backgrounds? What about mature students? How many countries are represented in your lab or department? Adding these kinds of things to your PhD ad will help it appeal more to Gen Z. 

Now you have a better idea of what Gen Z looks for in an employer. If you want to know a bit more about how to create awareness of your vacancy and measure the success of your recruitment efforts, download our PhD advert toolkit

Download your free PhD advert toolkit

Advertising your PhD position online is as simple as writing your job ad and publishing it online, right? Wrong. Having your ad online is no good if candidates can’t find it or don’t click on it. To make sure that promising PhD candidates find your ad, you need to optimize the text for digital recruitment. Here are our top tips to get started.

Make it searchable

Whether potential candidates are using Google, your university’s career page, or an external job board, they search for PhD opportunities with keywords like, “PhD position papyrology” or “PhD in language acquisition Germany”. So when you sit down to write your ad, try to think like your candidate and use the terms that they will search for throughout your advert. Search tools look at several parts of a web page to determine what it’s about and repeating keywords in the ad text is an easy way to signal who the ad will be relevant for.

Be specific with your title

Try to also think about what keywords candidates might be searching for when you choose the title for your ad. Titles like “PhD position” or “PhD position in the Department of Engineering” are too broad to rank highly in search results and don’t signal to potential candidates that this position is relevant to their interests. Stellar candidates won’t click on your ad if you make them guess what field the position is in. Instead, try a title like “PhD position in electrical engineering at University X.” 

Your ad’s “slug” (the part of the URL that identifies the specific page) usually matches the page title (in this case, the ad title) which makes it even more important to use keywords in your title. The slug is one of the clues Google uses to determine what the page is about. If your title/slug is too broad, potential candidates won’t be able to easily find your PhD ad. 

Start strong

You’ve probably been told it’s important to start your ad off with a catchy opening sentence to get potential candidates’ attention and convince them to keep reading. This is true, but a strong opening line also serves another purpose in digital advertising. Google, external job boards, and social media platforms automatically excerpt the opening line as the “meta description” or page summary. This means your first sentence has to not only convince potential PhD applicants to keep reading your ad, it also has to convince them to click on it. When you start writing your ad, try to think of a 150 to 160 character opener that will look good in a Google snippet, search results list, or a social media preview. 

Download your free PhD advert toolkit

Get your free PhD advert toolkit with our top tips for writing and publishing a PhD advert that will make candidates excited to apply.

Download now

Use section headings

When writing for digital, it’s important to break up your ad text into paragraphs with section headings. Many people read job ads on their phones and walls of text are off putting and difficult to read.  Using section headings makes it easier for PhD candidates to skim your ad and find the information they’re most interested in, like the requirements, or application deadlines. Using bullet points in your ad is another way to make it easier to read on a mobile device.  

One PhD position per ad

Try to avoid advertising multiple PhD positions in the same job post unless they’re for the same project. Combining multiple PhD opportunities into the same advert might seem like a savvy way to save money when advertising outside your university’s career page, but it’s not very search-friendly. Your ad will be irrelevant for half the people that find it and you’re making potential applicants do unnecessary extra work searching through the page to find the vacancy that’s relevant to their research interests. 

This advice goes double for combining both a PhD and postdoc vacancy in the same advert. These are two different keywords with distinct audiences. Don’t make it hard for potential applicants to find the PhD opportunity they’re searching for. 

Want more?

Now that you know how to write a PhD ad that’s web friendly, why not take it a step further? Download our PhD advert toolkit to learn how to write a compelling job ad, create awareness of your vacancy, and measure the success of your recruitment efforts.

Download your free PhD advert toolkit