- Planning for the process
- Describing the job
- Developing a job description
- A full-time, part-time, permanent, casual or fixed-term employee?
- Hours of work
- Place of work
- Personal attributes
- Skills and qualifications
- Workplace character
- Attracting suitable job applicants
Planning for the process
A mistake as you start your planning can be costly and can undermine the employment relationship that will eventually be established.
- attracting suitable applicants
- choosing the employee
- documenting and making the offer
- finalising the agreement
- commencing the relationship.
You should therefore plan to ensure that:
- you have a clear idea of all the costs associated with employing someone – take a look at our checklist
- the genuine requirements and skills needed for the job are identified in advance and communicated clearly to job applicants
- the privacy and confidentiality of applicants and the process are maintained throughout
- advertising, selection and hiring decisions are made fairly, and not on unlawful discriminatory grounds
- communications with applicants are clear, and if there are any areas of uncertainty, you should take time to address and clarify them with the applicants
- offers of employment are in writing
- the bargaining surrounding a job offer is fair and complies with the requirements.
- there is an induction process that gives the employee a fair chance of reaching the expected standard of performance.
Describing the job
The employer is required, as a minimum, to describe the work to be undertaken in their employee’s employment agreement.
However, you are more likely to find the best person if, as you advertise and interview, both you and the applicants have a clear idea of:
- the job to be done
- the hours and place of work
- the personal attributes, skills and qualifications expected
- the training and development that will be provided.
Equally, before you begin the recruitment process, it is worthwhile considering what flexibility you might have in any of these areas to meet the genuine requirements of a suitable employee who, for example, has a disability or is caring for dependent children or a dependent relative.
If this is the first time you have filled the position, this is the time to consider the needs and shape of your business. If you are replacing an existing employee, it is also worthwhile reviewing the present arrangements and making certain that they still fit your needs.
Questions you can ask yourself about the job:
- What made you establish the position?
- Is there a person undertaking the work now? If there is, how would they describe their responsibilities?
- Do they have all the necessary skills for the job?
- Are the skills you needed in the past the ones you need to meet the continuing/future needs of your business?
- Will the person work alone or as part of a team?
- What are the tasks that have to be undertaken?
- What are the key competencies for those tasks?
- Is there specialist equipment or knowledge involved in the tasks?
- How will the person be supervised, and are there responsibilities for supervising others?
- Are there additional tasks or competencies that could be required of the employee that should also be explained?
- Who are your customers, and what are their expectations of your business and this position?
- Are there any legal requirements for the job?
You don’t need to write any of this down or make it a major exercise, but putting time aside to think it over, and maybe talking things through with someone who understands your needs, can help to clarify your thoughts.
Having answered those questions, you can then bring the answers together to develop a job description, the proposed type and hours of employment and a profile of the type of employee you require.
Developing a job description
A job description should:
- identify your business and its priorities
- be written at a level appropriate for the position you are filling
- clearly identify the core tasks and responsibilities
- describe the lines of responsibilities of the job – both who the person is responsible to and (if appropriate) who reports to them
- describe any minimum legal or educational requirements
- describe ideal personal skills and attributes
- set out your performance measures for the job.
A full-time, part-time, permanent, casual or fixed-term employee?
Having identified the needs of your business, it is important to be clear, before advertising a position, what is essential to you in the employment arrangements you plan to make and what would be ideal.
Your legal requirements and ability to recruit may be affected by these decisions.
In the employment agreement you eventually agree with your employee, you must be clear about the arrangements you have made for hours of work, and if, at a later stage, you wish to change those arrangements, it is necessary to do that by agreement with your employee.
Most minimum conditions of employment are consistent across all forms of employment, although there are some other factors to consider:
- There are additional requirements when entering into a fixed-term agreement. Fixed-term agreements can only be offered where there is a genuine reason for the fixed-term.
- Many people are referred to as casual employees when they are actually fixed-term or part-time workers. Genuinely casual employees are those who work only intermittently or on an irregular basis, and some different rules may apply.
- Special provisions for the payment of holiday pay apply for some fixed-term employees and for employees undertaking genuinely casual work. More information about holiday payments for some fixed-term and genuinely casual employees is available on the Department’s website or phone 0800 20 90 20.
- There are additional requirements if your employee is being employed on a trial or a probation period.
Hours of work
Employees in different industries and types of work have different expectations regarding hours of work.
Your ability to recruit can be improved or undermined by the extent to which your expectations on hours of work reflect practice in your industry.
This is particularly the case where employees have to balance external responsibilities, such as study, childcare or travel, against the needs of the job.
Before advertising and developing a proposed employment agreement, you need to be clear whether the employee is employed to work:
- set hours daily and/or weekly at an hourly rate
- on an annual salary reflecting an expectation of hours worked over the year, but not necessarily with set daily hours
- as required, with or without minimum hours of work
- on a regular schedule or cycle of hours
- with a requirement for regular or occasional overtime, either as required by the employer or with agreement between the employer and employee.
The choice you make can also influence where and to whom you advertise the work. For example, employees relying on public transport may not be able to travel easily outside normal business hours and, if work is for short or broken periods of time, local rather than more distant candidates are more likely to be interested.
Place of work
You are required to include details of the place of work in your employment agreement with an employee.
In advertising or offering a job, you should make it clear whether the person will always be working in one place, will be required to work at a set number of places, or will work at different sites on a regular basis.
For some types of work, you might also like to consider whether the employee could undertake some or all of their duties at home if he or she wished – this can sometimes provide flexibility for people with family responsibilities and may make it easier to recruit.
Having defined the job, you should then describe the personal characteristics you value and what the job requires – sometimes called a “personal profile”. This can often be put quite simply, but must be clear and easily understood. Make sure the characteristics you identify are genuinely required for the job, and that they do not reflect discrimination.
Issues a personal profile can cover are:
- specific needs of your business, such as the way you require people to relate with other employees and customers
- the contacts or networks the employee may need to work with
- language or cultural knowledge
- fitness or physical requirements
- prerequisites that may be appropriate, such as previous work experience, literacy levels, computer skills, driver’s licences and recognised qualifications.
As you develop the profile, remember that it should reflect the genuine needs of your business. Setting requirements out of habit (for example, the previous employee had these qualifications so the new employee requires them)
Skills and qualifications
A related but separate issue is the qualifications the job requires and the training you are able or willing to provide for the successful applicant.
Although providing training involves costs for an employer, it can also be an investment that ensures employees can meet the needs of the job and progress over time.
There are a much wider range of qualifications and on- and off-the-job training available than in the past.
If you wish to understand the nature of existing qualifications, or include an appropriate qualification in the personal profile, you can obtain advice from:
- the relevant Industry Training organisation (ITO)
- Career services
If you are prepared to provide training towards a qualification for the employee, you should consider whether there are entries or prior learning requirements for that training, and include that information in the personal profile.
Regardless of other skill requirements, you should consider the level of literacy and numeracy required for the job, or for the training you will be requiring the employee to undertake.
Where training is expected to occur on the job, it is important to ensure these requirements are realistic and that you have the time and people to deliver the training.
Alternatively, the costs, availability and ability of an employee to participate in external training need to be fully investigated before commitments are made.
An employer’s failure to provide necessary training could later be used by the employee to respond to criticisms about his or her performance.
Every workplace has a character or style.
When recruiting, you should consider what the character of your workplace is, and whether that character is the best for your business.
It is easy for cultures to develop that are taken for granted, but which aren’t the best for you or a new employee.
The job description and personal profile should reflect the reality of your workplace. When you have designed both, if there is clearly a mismatch, you need to consider whether the job description and the personal profile or the culture should change.
Examples could be:
- To what extent do teams work as a group or is there a supervisor and the rest do what they are told?
- What level of formality is expected? Do you operate on a first name basis or is it a hierarchical organisation?
- Are people expected or encouraged to show initiative, or do you expect them to work by the book?
- Is it a vibrant exciting workplace where diversity is valued, or are people expected to conform?
No one culture is right or wrong, as long as the culture that is established does not:
- reduce your ability to recruit eligible workers
- create an unsafe working environment
- lead to decisions that discriminate without you being aware of it.
Attracting suitable job applicants
How you attract the best applicants depends on the job, how much money you are able to spend on advertising, and how much time you have.
- considering your existing employees – there may be someone who is ready for a promotion or who wants a new role, and advertising the role internally is a good way to find out
- engaging a recruitment agency – this can appear costly, but an agency can reduce the amount of time you are required to spend reviewing and short-listing applications, and can help you clarify your needs, appropriate pay levels and levels of experience available and required
- targeting advertising in industry journals, magazines and websites
- contacting an industry Training organisation or training establishment that deals with workers in your industry
- advertising in daily or community newspapers and other media, which can often advise on circulation or audience numbers and strategies for reaching target audiences
- directly approaching potential applicants, as long as you take care not to encourage an employee to break any employment obligations, including the need to give the correct period of notice.
It is also important to consider whether there are any procedures that must be followed in making a new appointment.