The job description is your first step in recruiting a new employee and arguably the most important part of the entire process. The job description is effectively a piece of direct marketing collateral and you should treat it like one. It is a direct response tool through which you can sell your business to the perfect candidate. How do you make your job description stand out against the crowd? How do you attract the right candidate and make them want to work for you?
Here’s a few points you should consider next time you’re recruiting:
As we have already pointed out, the job description is essentially direct marketing. As such you should treat it that way with the words you use to describe the correct candidate and how you sell your company to that candidate. Focus on using the words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ over ‘the right candidate’. Be conversational in tone so they can easily understand what the company stands for and what the role entails. You need to help the candidate picture themselves in the role so they can really identify themselves fitting in and excelling in the position.
When talking about the company, you shouldn’t be too strict and formal. Try and sell the benefits of working for the company over explaining the ins and outs of your business. The candidate will research you and find out your website anyway so use the job description to sell why an employee should REALLY want to work for you.
Be search engine friendly
When it comes to advertising your position on job sites it’s really important to make sure that your job specification is search engine friendly. You need to make sure that the people you want to hire, can actually find your job! To do that you need to think about a few things when writing your job description to ensure the search engines return your job when someone makes a search.
• Keep your job titles short and sweet and a maximum of 80 characters long. This is the optimum length of a title.
• Avoid using caps or special characters in titles. This will make your title easy to read and rank in search engines.
• Use real life terminology for your job title so the search engine knows what the job actually is.
• Use strategic keywords to help your job description rank well. Look at other job descriptions on job sites that are similar to yours and try and find the type of keywords they are using. Also, include more specific keywords in your description to help the search engine match your job to the candidates search. This will also mean you are showing your job to a better type of candidate.
Be specific throughout the document, starting with the job title. Don’t get bogged down in technical internal titles. Be clear with the title so that they can quickly understand what the role entails. Keep it short and easily understandable. For example, if you’re recruiting for a Marketing Manager, say so. Rather than use titles like ‘marketing wizard’ or ‘growth specialist’. Specify years of experience, qualifications and specific skills you’re looking for.
Be clear with what the job entails. Perhaps include a paragraph on ‘Your typical working day’ to help the candidate picture themselves in the role. Using our Marketing Manager example, perhaps the role entails developing and managing the marketing strategy and managing a small team? On the other hand, their day could be 60% focussed on content production. If it does, say so. Use this paragraph to help candidates understand what they will actually be doing on a day to day basis.
Try not to sugar coat negative parts of the role. If the successful candidate will end up doing a lot administrative work that may be considered a little laborious, it is perfectly fine to say so. Candidates should have a clear picture of what the job entails so that there are no nasty surprises when they start.
You should also be honest about the key objectives of the role. The job description is your first opportunity to outline any key performance indicators you will be using to measure the performance of the candidate. The candidate should completely understand how performance will be managed so that there are no surprises when it comes to performance reviews in the future.
Try and cut out the waffle. People’s attention span is limited these days and you should make it easy for them to understand your job description.
• Use short snappy paragraphs and bullet points.
• Direct attention with sub headings or bold/italic fonts.
• Avoid buzzwords and corporate jargon, use real life language.
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Hiring staff is a costly business and it goes without saying that you need to attract the best people to fill the vacancies in your business to help you to continue to grow. The consequences of getting the recruitment process wrong can be catastrophic. Get the wrong person in and at best, they will be a drain on your resources, resulting in a need to manage them out of the business and re-recruit in the future at even more cost. At worst, recruiting the wrong person could have a negative effect on the rest of your team, reduce morale, damage client relationships and harm your business. Here’s a recap on some of the fundamentals of effective recruitment to help you get this important task right.
Create effective job descriptions
Once you have identified the need for hiring staff in your business, whether that be to replace an outgoing member of staff or to fill a brand new vacancy, it’s important to get your job description right. The job description is your shop window. There will be the right person out there to fill the vacancy and you need to ensure the description appeals to them, communicates what you are looking for in the position and is easy to understand. It is also vital in helping you avoid applications from those that are not qualified for the position. Far too often job descriptions are full of corporate language and buzzwords which make it almost impossible to understand what the day to day responsibilities are. Ensure you convey the key responsibilities for the role, the qualifications and skills required, how much experience is needed, who the applicant will work with and report to, immediate and long term objectives and how you will measure success. By outlining in detail these points, applicants will have no doubt what the job entails and you will have a starting point from which to conduct performance reviews in the future.
Reach the right candidate
For small businesses it is vital to use every resource you have available to you. There are many options available to you before resorting to expensive professional head-hunters or recruitment agencies. Place postings on job boards or recruitment websites, use local, national or industry press, advertise the vacancy on your website, use your company’s social and professional networks and ask for referrals from your existing employees. There may also be exceptional talent already within your business that you have overlooked, so it is important to also advertise the position internally. Don’t overlook candidates from competitor firms or similar industries either! The search functions in LinkedIn are an amazing tool to help you find and reach out to these people.
Make applicants WANT to work for you
It’s amazing how many businesses get this part wrong. Many are so busy, or at worst so arrogant, to believe that everyone will want to work for them, no matter how little effort they make. The way you respond to applications, prepare for interviews, follow up after interviews and communicate throughout the process is vital in driving applicants to want to work for you. Ensure your business comes across in a highly professional manner throughout. Communicate with candidates, offer feedback and ensure interviews are conducted professionally and on schedule. Don’t give candidates any opportunity to have doubts about working for you. If you can’t get the recruitment process wrong, it will raise warning signs to the applicant that you might not be a great business to work for, no matter how much you are willing to pay them. It doesn’t take much to make the whole recruitment process seamless. Treat people with respect, establish expectations and communicate throughout.
Make the job offer properly
Once you have selected a suitable candidate, it is time to make the offer. But this must be a considered decision to ensure that you are offering terms and conditions that appeal to the candidate and that are effective for the company. Ensure you make the offer in writing to avoid any confusion from verbal communication. If an offer is conditional on your completion of checks or references, be transparent as to what those checks are and obtain consent from the candidate to undertake them. Make sure you do not discriminate in the terms offered to your employees. Do not offer a package that your business cannot afford or terms that will put you at risk in the future.
For professional advice on hiring staff and how to run an effective recruitment process in your business we are here to help. Give us a call on 0330 555 1139 or email us at email@example.com.
Yippee, you are doing well, it’s time to stop using family and friends and calling in favours and take that very grown up step of hiring your very first staff member.
Firstly, well done, that’s quite an achievement, feel very very proud.
Secondly, you are petrified right, well this blog post will hopefully calm things down. Now down to business.
The job description & person specification
- Think about what you want them to do, and write that down, forget job titles at this stage, just think job content.
- Think about what kind of person in terms of attributes, experience and qualifications (and be reasonable, I’ve come across 2 man bands operating from their front rooms wanting Oxbridge graduates, to do admin)
- Research similar roles and no harm in having a nosey at what your competitors are doing (if it ain’t broke etc), this gives you some pointers to setting a salary
- Once you have an idea of the salaries the competition are paying, you need to figure out if you can afford it, always remember you need to add another 30% plus in on costs to cover Employers NI (12% of total salary), pension (more of which later), their work environment, other benefits etc
- You are now ready to draw up a job description (which describes the role) and a person specification (which describes the attributes at a minimum a person must have to be suitable).
- Decide where you are going to find them, i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, websites, agencies, print media
- Draft an ad for the job
- Its always worth thinking about at this stage where you are actually going to put them, do you need to buy a desk, hire office space even, computers cost how much?
They’ve started to apply. Wow another milestone passed, people are interested and want to work for you, nervous yet?
- Work out in advance of the interview what you want to learn from them
- Do you just want to have a one on one interview and deal with it all in one go
- Do you want a demonstration of their work presentation style
- Do you want someone else’s opinion
- Prepare well in advance, draft questions, give enough time per person (there is nothing worse that candidates bumping into one another in the corridor or reception.
- You’ve decided you’ve found the one!
- You need out of politeness to let the others down gently, you never know when you’ll bump into them again, so be nice.
You found your first staff member
(now the real fun starts)
- You need to offer them the job (provisionally usually), apply for references, make sure you have employers liability insurance (up to 5 million at least). Look at the partnership tab on this website which will help you.
- Give them written particulars which at a minimum should contain salary, pension arrangements, start and finish (where applicable), place of work, date of pay, where they are based, disciplinary and grievance processes, termination and leaving, probation, any benefits, confidentiality etc. If you don’t do this within 28 days of them starting well you have been told!
- Why not think about including a staff handbook (give us a call) and HR policies & procedures (again you know where we are) and you are covered.
- So references, qualifications all check out, terms are agreed and a start date sorted
Before they start
You need to think about a probation period, how you are going to pay them (we can point you to some brilliant payroll providers and accountants), what sort of induction (please have one) process you are going to have.
You are pretty much now ready to welcome your first employee. Good luck and well done, the second time is always easier.
You are on your way. Contact us if you need help with HR support or your first staff member in the future.
Tis the season where some of you will be thinking about hiring additional staff to cope with the Christmas demand with the key word being flexibility. These are the types of contracts you may wish to consider: –
Its exactly that, its exactly the same as a permanent contract along all the benefits and entitlements that come with it, including holiday and benefits, except this contract has a specific end date. This might not be the best fit for an organisation who needs staff for just the Christmas period, but its certainly worth considering.
You have the work, you offer the work to a person and they have the option to either take it or leave it. They get paid for the work they do for you. The obligations stop when they finish work that day/evening. Its usually used to cope with spikes in business such as Christmas. The downside here is the person is under no obligation to accept the work, and with the demand for staff over Christmas, it might leave you in a difficult position, as others will also be offering work.
Much maligned and talked about usually not in a good way, but they have their benefits. Similar is a way to casual contracts with one key difference, the contract is ongoing and does not stop when the person leaves their work or shifts despite them only getting paid for the work they do. Since the brouhaha during the summer concerning zero hours contracts, changes are afoot particularly in relation to exclusivity clauses. As an employer you need to determine how you deal with someone on such a contract who turns work down. Zero hours are really useful in my opinion for the Christmas period, as the employer has the security of knowing they have a ready bank of staff to call on.
These are employed usually through an agency, sometimes directly and are paid hourly. If they come through an agency, they are the responsibility of the agency legally. The agency then charges the employer a fixed hourly fee which includes the temps wages, holiday pay and entitlements together with the agency mark up fee. Temps are only paid by the agency for the hours worked and upon receipt of a signed timesheet. Very common and very useful for peaks in demand with all of the administrative burden placed on the agency.
Self employed – for services
These types of arrangements are very common in the courier industry (think Yodel), where to cope with peaks in demand self employed couriers and van drivers are hired on a self employed basis. The employer has no legal obligation towards them in terms of employment law as they have no employee status. They are usually paid upon receipt of an invoice.
Other options to think about
- Offering overtime to existing permanent members of staff whether full time or part time
- Offer flexitime which allows employees to ‘bank’ extra hours and take the accrued days at a later date.
- Offer time off in lieu over an above hours worked at a later date
You will need to ensure you comply with employment legislation when taking on any staff for any length of time regardless of the status of their employment. Thats why its essential to get a written agreement in place which Crosse HR can help you with.
My experience of customer service pretty much goes like this, at best being treated like a mild inconvenience to be tolerated or pure and utter disdain akin to something scraped off one’s shoe.
So not expecting anything more than the usual poor customer service experience, I popped into the newly revamped Prestat coffee shop recently off Sloane Sq, for a chat with my friend Dawn. Being used to being ignored or barked at I did get quite a fright when the staff in Prestat smiled at me, greeted me, and actually made a bit of a fuss of me – were we actually experiencing that rare thing – decent customer service?.
So we all got talking (me, Dawn and the staff that is, the manager in particular) about the newly revamped coffee shop, chocolate (salted caramel truffles in fact), himself – Antonio from Italy, customer service (It had to be said), customers (good bad and the ugly).
Antonio praised the company, the product, he clearly loved his job and it was genuine, you cannot fake that level of enthusiasm.
Antonio and his team could not do enough for us and it showed, it showed in the atmosphere, in the conversations people in the shop were having, it was relaxing, convivial and made me want to go back, which I will and often. The Prestat team made us feel special, now that is one heck of a customer service experience.
Doing what I do, where a lot of time, effort and money is spent on a) recruiting staff b) then dealing with bad behaviour c) trying to motivate employees to do their job and provide good customer service regardless of the profession d) train them to do a good job.
I tried to figure out that pesky Holy Grail question that Prestat seems to have managed, is it pure good luck, is it recruitment, training, good product, good company, autonomy or a combination of all of the above, Prestat appears to have a good sense of itself, has been going for over a 100 years (started as a coffee shop in Oxford St before moving into chocolate) and has a royal warrant so if its good enough for her Majesty and all that.
I’m going back this week to find out more ………………………………….
186 Pavilion Road, SW3 (across from Peter Jones)
One of my clients has a restaurant in a very popular tourist destination and I got the panicked call … Summer is here and I have no staff (the recent warm weather was responsible for this latest bout of panic). What can I do?! Lots actually!
The easy part is the temporary staff employment contract
The easy part, believe it or not, is the temporary staff contract. Casual, fixed term or zero hours (ok ok I hear you, but a lot of employers and employees run on them just fine) – CrosseHR can sort that out.
As for the type of contract you wish to use, a ‘Casual’ contract is exactly that. You can call them in whenever you have a need, at short notice, and they have the right to refuse to the work when offered. There’s no obligation on you to provide the work, or on the employee to accept the work. They are paid exactly for the time they actually work.
Zero Hours contracts
Much derided, again you can call them in whenever you wish, the only difference being that they need to be available to carry out the work when called. They are only paid for the time they are in work.
Fixed term contracts
You employ them for a fixed period of time, and they get the same benefits as permanent employees. The only difference is that they know when they are leaving.
Temporary staff are usually employed through an employment agency, who is in turn their employer. You have no obligation to them as employees, as your relationship is with the agency.
Recruiting temporary staff
So with that sorted, you now need to find the staff. Where do you find these people without paying hefty agency fees (just in case it rains and we don’t need them). I always find going to places like-minded people congregate, like colleges, halls of residence and Youth Hostels is a useful tactic – if the people you want aren’t coming to you, go to them! Of course social media works like a dream for promoting temporary staff vacancies too – try Gumtree, Facebook, Instagram, and of course Twitter. Once the word’s out you’ll start to receive enquiries, and once you get one person employed for the Summer, you tend to find they self refer, so you’ll end up getting 5 of their mates or acquaintances with no trouble at all.
When you’re recruiting temporary staff, go through the same selection process you would do normally – and hey presto no more worries for the Summer season. Just in case you’re unsure, here’s a quick 10 point recruitment plan to make sure you have all the bases covered:
- Decide on a role
- Advertise or go through an agency
- Shortlist from the initial selection
- Interview whoever’s reached the shortlist
- Offer/Reject after interview
- Appoint in writing
- Process the paperwork (if we can help let me know)
- Take up references
- Decide on a start date
- Induction (always remember the induction!).
If you need any more reassurance or shrewd temporary staffing solutions, get in touch with us here at CrosseHR