A new year often leads to a new career for many. This means replacing staff joins your January to-do list. Here we look at the process of recruitment and offer 10 tips to help you end the hiring heartache
1 Make the package competitive
This might sound obvious, but is often overlooked. Start with considering exactly what you want the candidate to be able to do now and in the future if they grow within the business. You don’t want to have to go through the process again unnecessarily.
Equally, make sure that you pay at least – if not more – than the going rate. To do this, you will have to establish a budget based on industry norms, and also be prepared to break it for the right person.
2 Look in-house first
It may not occur to you at first, but consider whether there is anyone in-house who could do the job. You still need to follow a proper recruitment process, but it may well save you some time and money.
Also, they will know you and the business. If there’s no one in-house, you could consider asking staff if they know of anyone suitable.
3 Advertise carefully
If you do need to look externally, understand that advertising isn’t cheap and so you need to plan the advert carefully. Remember that, although the internet reaches far and wide, and is faster and invariably less expensive, it may not beat an advert in a newspaper or magazine that can target a specific audience.
Either way, avoid paying for an advert during holiday periods – by definition, part of the readership will not see the advert. In terms of the advert itself, be concise, but give enough information to readers, including potential pay, location, skills and experience required and how applications should be sent in. Include a deadline for applications to be made.
4 Scour alternative sources
Apart from placing your own adverts, you can find candidates through other sources, such as employment agencies, which, for a fee, will undertake a candidate search for you; Jobcentre Plus and associated government schemes, which will do something similar without charge; or you could try the government’s Graduate Talent Pool, which aims to raise graduates’ employability by using internships.
5 Obey the law
The law is particular about what you can and cannot do during the recruitment process. Candidates may not work for you (yet), but they do have rights and may not be afraid to enforce them. There is much to be said here, but, in summary, aim to be transparent, use the same process for everyone, and do not discriminate in any way, unless the discrimination can be objectively justified for the job. You also need to be certain that the candidate is legally allowed to work in the UK. There are penalties of £10,000 per person illegally hired for employers who ignore this law.
6 Use social networks
With the advent of social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace and so on – it’s become so much easier to check what the candidate has said about themselves online against what they’ve told you. Interestingly, a recent Press Complaints Commission ruling has said that postings – in this case, Twitter – are not private, and there should never be any expectation as such.
The flipside of this is that candidates may well check up on you through social networks; so consider using your website as an advert for the business.
7 Verify qualifications and experience
You must check extremely carefully that the candidate has the qualifications and level of experience being claimed. You may also want to check for a criminal past.
To be on the safe side, tell all potential candidates that their job applications will be screened, that their claims will be verified and that any job offers will be made subject to satisfactory responses. Then make their agreement part of the written application process.
8 Avoid The Apprentice-style interviewing
The interview process is crucial to finding the right person. You need to design the questions so that they follow the law, so that they get the candidate to open up and so that you get the information you need. Don’t try to emulate what you see on The Apprentice – aggression will not help you, but do ensure that questions cannot be answered with either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Also, ask questions that seek experience in solving problems that might occur in your business. It’s far better to find those with the talents you need rather than hiring some who can merely fill in while you train them up.
9 Document everything
Keeping documentation on the whole process may help you later on, should a dispute arise. Whether it’s a rough scribble on an application or a CV, your notes on answers given to the questions you put during the interview, or comments on why someone has been rejected or copies of documents that prove a right to work in the UK, keep it all. It may protect you. But remember the data protection issues. Candidates – or employees, if they’re later hired – can apply to the Information Commissioner to see what information you have on them.
10 Seek advice
As recruitment, and employment law for that matter, is such a minefield, you would do well to seek advice. Even if you pay for advice so that you can create a recruitment template that can be reused, it will be time and money well spent. As noted earlier, candidates can take you to a tribunal if they feel aggrieved and, if the claim is related to discrimination, the award has no limit. To find a good lawyer, visit the Law Society. If you want the aid of an HR professional, contact the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Remember that ACAS, the government’s arbitration service, offers advice. Finally, take a look at the government’s Business Link website – there is plenty of guidance there, too.