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How to apply for general vacancies

Job application guidelines

The following guidelines are designed to help you submit a job application in line with our requirements.  You will need to read carefully any specific instructions concerning what should be included in your application (this will be in Further information); Please ensure you comply with these instructions since, if you do not, the panel will not be able to shortlist you.  These guidelines may vary for jobs in our partner organisations and subsidiaries, please refer to individual job details.  Internal jobs which are advertised are only open for applications from current Open University staff and agency staff who are currently working for the Open University.  Please note that these jobs will not be visible outside the University’s network.

Covering letter or supporting statement

Job application guideline photoYour covering letter (where specified in the ‘Job related information' document) or statement should clearly identify how you meet the criteria in the person specification if you have not already provided this information on the application form.  Please ensure that you provide relevant examples as evidence to support your statements.  The selection panel will consider how well the information you provide demonstrates that you meet the criteria identified in the person specification.

Completing the application form

It is in your interest to show how your experience and personal qualities address the person specification for the role.  Please ensure you complete all the sections of the form in full, giving as much detail as possible. If a short application form is to be used you will be required to enclose your up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV).  Note: the application forms (with the exception of the accessible versions) have been setup to function as forms within Microsoft Word (so as to allow for tabbing between form completion fields).  However, the protection once added removes the ability to format font, spell check the file etc.  You can undo the file protection within Microsoft Word by selecting "file", then "info", then "protect document", then "restrict editing", and finally clicking on the "stop protection" box to undo the protection.  Please note when prompted to unlock the protection that the password is blank (i.e. no password). To re-add protection once you have made your changes click on the "yes - start enforcing protection" box.

If you are invited to an interview you will be asked to sign and date your application form to authenticate the content.  You will also need to ensure that you read the following information listed on the top right hand side of this page (or using the links below):

Curriculum vitae (CV)

If it is stated in the ‘Job related information' document that the department/unit is accepting the short version of our application form, please enclose an up-to-date CV with your application. This should include details about the following, where applicable:

  • Secondary and higher education (dates, educational establishment, examinations, results/grades and thesis titles if applicable).
  • Other technical, professional or occupational training/courses attended (dates, provider, type of training, subjects studied and qualifications attained).

Membership of Professional Institutes or Societies

Employment history (dates, details of your present and past employers, positions held with brief details of duties, final salary and reason for leaving). Please start with your current or most recent appointment. Remember to include unpaid or voluntary work as well as paid employment. 

Details of Relevant Publications (for academic posts)

Please remove any Equal Opportunities information (e.g. age, date of birth, sex, gender, marital status, ethnicity, and religion) from your CV as this is not relevant to your application.
The short application form needs to be completed and submitted with your CV and covering letter. 


The ‘Job related information’ document indicates whether you are required to provide details of two or three referees. At least one of the referees should be from your current or most recent employer. Please provide full contact details for each referee in the relevant section of the application form, stating clearly if you do not want us to contact a referee until after the interview, should you be invited to one.
If you are offered a position, please note it is University policy to obtain the most current employer reference before the written offer of employment is sent.

Internal applicants only

Where a temporary job of two years or less is established, this will be open to University staff on a secondment basis.

When completing the ‘Referees’ section of the application form, please ensure you specify your Head of Unit as your ‘current employer’, as s/he is responsible for providing this reference or nominating an appropriate alternative referee. 

Disabled applicants

The Open University positively welcomes disabled applicants. If you require any adjustments to enable you to attend the interview, please ensure that you contact the Recruitment Co-ordinator to discuss your requirements. 

(The Equality Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities)

Please let us know if you need your copy of the ‘Job related information’ document in a different format to meet your needs. Additional accessibility information for disabled applicants is available from the Recruitment Co-ordinator - please see ‘Job related information’ document for contact details.

Medical clearance

If you are offered an appointment, this will be made subject to medical clearance from the University’s Occupational Health provider.  You will be sent a health assessment questionnaire with our offer letter and we ask that you complete and submit the questionnaire as soon as possible so that your start date with the University can be formally confirmed once the required clearance is received.  You may also be required to attend a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner during your employment with the University, as detailed in your terms and conditions of service.

Data protection

The staff, workers and applicants privacy notice sets out what personal data we collect for these individuals, and how we use it.

Recruitment process feedback

If you have any comments or concerns about any stage of the recruitment process, please write to the HR Business Partner, Human Resources, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, who will look into the matter.