The modern recruitment market is one of the most challenging issues facing regional businesses today and with growing competition, it is becoming harder to find and secure the right candidate for the job.
Step 1 – Identify the Vacancy
Vacancies arise in various ways – you might be looking for a replacement following a departure or to fill a vacancy that’s arisen because of a reorganisation. Whatever the reason, you should give a little thought to how the successful candidate will be engaged. Will they be an employee, self employed or a casual worker? In coming to a decision, turn your mind to the substance of the working relationship you’re going to need to have with the successful candidate and don’t attempt to impose a label that bears no resemblance to reality.
You’ll also want to think about the nature of the role. Will it be full time or part time? Is there scope for job sharing? Don’t be too quick to conclude that the role must be performed full time by a single employee - critically consider whether there might be ways to share the role or perform it flexibly. Insisting on full time working will not only exclude people from the recruitment process, such as mothers who combine working with childcare, but could also be discriminatory.
Step 2 – Job Description and Person Specification
In terms of the job description, use an appropriate job title (avoiding gendered terms such as ‘shop girl’ or ‘office boy’) and describe the tasks the role will involve accurately, so potential applicants can make informed decisions about whether or not to apply. Crucially, don’t include irrelevant tasks, as this might put off suitable candidates.
Where the person specification is concerned, set out the skills, qualifications and experience necessary to perform the role. To avoid (inadvertently) including discriminatory criteria, make sure you can justify anything you suggest is necessary or desirable. For example, rather than specifying a particular qualification, refer to equivalent levels of skill or knowledge.
Step 3 – Advertising
You might prefer to recruit internally, rather than considering external candidates. Remember that doing so will limit the pool from which you’re recruiting and, in turn, the diversity of your workforce. If you’re advertising externally, be sure to place your advertisement in a variety of forums so as to reach the broadest range of candidates. Remember also, to bring vacancies to the attention of employees who are absent from work, such as those on maternity leave.
Take care when drafting your advertisement. Be guided by the job description and person specification and avoid discriminatory language - don’t use ‘waitress’ when you could use ‘waiting staff’!
In the advertisement, set out how interested candidates go about applying. Use a standardised process, such as submitting a CV or completing an application form, as that will ensure applicants compete on equal terms. If you use application forms, make sure you can provide them in accessible formats, such as braille or large print, if called upon to do so.
Step 4 – Selection
Depending on the size of your organisation, this might involve shortlisting, selection tests and interviews. Whichever methodology you adopt, you need to make sure it’s carried out fairly and results in the appointment of the best person for the job.
Both shortlisting and interviewing should be carried out by a panel, if at all possible, as that will help to avoid overly subjective decisions being made. Interviews should be structured around the relevant candidate’s CV or application form, as well as the job description and person specification, so they’re conducted objectively and consistently. Irrelevant questions must be avoided, particularly if they relate to the protected characteristics (such as age or disability) - don’t ask a candidate whether they’re planning to start a family any time soon!
When setting up interviews, be flexible about the arrangements, including where they will take place and when. You may need to consider adjustments to assist candidates with sight, hearing or mobility impairments. Ask candidates to let you know in advance if they need any reasonable adjustments in order to attend and participate in an interview.
Step 5 – Success!
Hopefully, having completed the selection process, you’ll have found the perfect candidate. If so, you’ll need to make them an offer of employment. You may want to make the offer subject to certain conditions, such as the provision of satisfactory references and confirmation of the right to work in the UK. You should make any relevant conditions clear and confirm the consequences of failing to satisfy them.
It’s also worth considering whether you will give feedback to unsuccessful applicants. It’s generally considered to be good practice and can assist if an applicant is considering challenging a recruitment decision.
Staying on the right side of the law when recruiting can be tricky. From a legal perspective, avoiding a discrimination claim is key and you should therefore be sure to provide training to staff who are likely to be involved in recruitment. You should also make sure you document the recruitment process so you’ve got a paper trail in the event of a challenge.
It’s also really important to ensure you’re compliant with GDPR. Do you have a candidate privacy notice you can issue to applicants? What do you do with the personal data you collect from applicants? How long do you keep such data and do you have systems in place to ensure its timely deletion?
Victoria Regan and Amy White are specialist employment lawyers and members of Rix & Kay’s Employment Team who support businesses across the South East. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.