What Are Candidates Looking for When Reading Your Postdoc Ad?

2 min read · By Academic Positions · 4 weeks ago

Deciding which postdoc position to apply for is an important decision that will affect the candidate’s future career trajectory. So how do applicants choose where to apply? While every candidate has slightly different priorities, there are some common elements that candidates give more weight to than others. Here are the five essential things candidates are looking for reading your postdoc ad:

The supervisor

When it comes to choosing a postdoc position, candidates put a lot of focus on finding a suitable supervisor. The personality match between supervisor and postdoc is essential, but it’s hard for candidates to know from a job ad alone if you will be the right supervisor for them. However, you can take steps to let candidates know more about who you are as a scientist and supervisor in the ad. Include a brief biography including information like any teaching or mentoring awards you’ve won.

The lab

Along with the supervisor, the lab also factors heavily into a candidate’s decision to apply for a postdoc position. While many supervisors wait until the interview to address this, you can get a head start by giving a brief description of your lab in the advert. How long has it been around? What equipment do you have? Who are some of you key collaborators? How many members/nationalities are represented in your lab? What is the general lab personality?

Scientific freedom

A postdoc position is how young scientists learn to become a PI. A position that gives them autonomy helps them make the transition from trainee to professor. Candidates are therefore highly interested in knowing how much control they will have over their research and how much input they will have in determining the line of inquiry. You should communicate this in the project description section of the advert, as well as the profile section.


How is the position funded and for how long? This is crucial information for potential candidates. Be clear about what the position pays, the duration of the position, and if there’s a possibility to extend the postdoc. You should also mention if there are other funding opportunities available at the university or grant application support services. This kind of detailed funding information can help your postdoc offer stand out and attract more potential applicants.  

Professional development opportunities

Postdocs will need to improve their scientific, technical, and professional skills in order to transition to a PI position. Candidates look for positions where they will have the best opportunity to develop these skills. If your university offers professional development training such as public speaking workshops, career path preparation, or networking events, it’s a good idea to mention this in your advert.

These are the five key things that candidates look for when reading a postdoc ad to determine if they’re a good match for your position. While your position won’t be the right fit for every potential candidate, addressing these five points in your ad will help generate interest among the best-suited candidates. To make sure the right candidates know your postdoc position is exactly what they’re looking for, you have to tell them.  Now you know how to write a postdoc advert that includes everything candidates are looking for, download our postdoc advert toolkit for more tips and recommendations for a successful recruitment. Make sure you’re subscribed to Recruiter Advice so you don’t miss our upcoming posts about storytelling and talent attraction.


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 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.


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