Everything you Need to Know About Recruiting for the First Time

Have you taken the plunge and made the decision to recruit?

Recruiting and selecting the best people to your vacancy is integral to HR. Many people think recruitment just involves advertising a job, the interview process and hiring the most suitable candidate, however in reality there is so much more to it. 

This checklist will help guide you from the initial recruitment stage and through your first month as an employer – from an HR perspective…

Step 1 – Ensure you get the Recruitment and Selection Right!

Once the necessity for recruitment has been confirmed it is important that the role is first of all defined…

Things which you should consider when defining a role are:

  • Full time or part time
  • Salary 
  • What tasks add the most value
  • How does it fit with other roles in the team?

Once you have considered these, you may then want to put together a job description, whilst there is no legal requirement to have job descriptions in place, it is good practice to do so and very important to the recruitment process to ensure both the organisation and applicants are clear what will be involved in the role and what the individual will need to be able to do.

When developing a job description for a role it is important to be clear on the overall purpose of the job – develop a concise sentence which provides a clear summary of the role.

Ensure the job title reflects the content of the job and vice versa and that you are describing the activities of job and the skills and qualifications that will be required for the job rather than a person.

Analyse and summarise the functions of the job; don’t just write a list of the tasks to be carried out by the job holder – be clear on whether you require the individual to be responsible for or contribute to certain tasks and activities.

It is good practice to list the job responsibilities in priority order – those that are carried out more frequently or those that carry a higher level of responsibility should come first.

The job description should be a clear, factual record of what the jobholder will be required to do. You should not under or overstate the requirements of the job – describe it objectively and accurately.

When compiling your job description, you must make sure you do not use discriminatory or gender specific language.

Once you have made sure that the job description is up to date there are a number of questions to consider when developing or reviewing the person specification. The person specification outlines the attributes that are required for an individual to be able to carry out the role. There is no legal requirement to develop a person specification, but it is good practice to do so to ensure you are clear on the attributes required and are able to assess candidates fairly against these requirements.

 Ask yourself: 

  • How important are the requirements listed?
  • How relevant are they to the role as outlined in the job description?
  • How necessary are they for an individual to be able to perform in the role?
  • How measurable are they?
  • How achievable are they?
  • Can you justify asking for particular requirements in relation to the job description?

It is important to work from the job description and to keep this in mind at all times – you should not be asking for anything in your person specification that is not directly linked to the job description.

The main areas to include in the person specification include Knowledge, Experience, Qualifications, Skills, and Personal attributes or qualities.

It is important to be very clear on your requirements for any given role and to be specific about the requirement – state, for example, exactly what experience are you looking for. You need to be able to measure any requirement listed in your person specification as part of the selection process and the requirements you set must be relevant to the role. This is particularly important when asking for qualifications, but also for skills and experience, for example, if you ask for experience in giving presentations, there needs to be a requirement to do this in the role and you need to be able to assess whether the applicant can in fact do this.

When compiling your person specification make sure you do not use discriminatory language (for example ‘store man’), set criteria that certain groups would find more difficult to meet or that would exclude particular groups, for example specifying a height requirement. Consider that even something as harmless as asking someone to be ‘happy’ could service to discriminate against individuals with a mental health condition who may struggle to appear ‘happy’ all of the time. 

Step 2 – Attract the Right Candidate

Once you have developed the job description and person specification and gained approval to recruit it is useful to draw up a recruitment plan. The recruitment plan should cover the action to be taken to find and attract applicants.

Recruitment has changed over the last few years and is continuing to do so with new media channels becoming more relevant to the recruitment process. A recruitment plan will help you to make use of the most effective channels for the role you are recruiting for.

Most active job seekers know where to look for their ideal role so your role needs to be highly visible in those areas and you need to make sure that it stands out.

You should also be aware that in the last few years the “passive job market” has increased, resulting in a number of people who aren’t actively looking for roles but who are open to being approached for the right role.

Putting together a recruitment plan at the start of the recruitment process will enable you use a range of different approaches appropriate to the role and your organisation.

Step 3 – Offer of Employment

Once you have found the right candidate and have completed the application process, whether this be reviewing their application form and CV, telephone interview, face to face interview or testing, the time has come to make an offer of employment. 

What many businesses are not aware of is a job offer can be made in writing or verbally and once made it is legally binding. 

Considerations should be made to whether the job offer should be a conditional or unconditional offer. A conditional offer of employment is an offer of employment that’s based on an applicant meeting certain criteria or requirements. If accepted, it means they’d need to meet these conditions before commencing employment, such as suitable references and satisfactory right to work checks/criminal checks.

A change in legislation in 2020 also means that employers are now obliged to provide employees a written document stating the main conditions of employment when they start work. This is known as a ‘written statement of employment particulars’(employment contract). This must be issued on or before day 1 of employment. An employee privacy notice should also be issued with the contract of employment.

Step 4 – Pre-Employment Checks

According to CIPD, to improve retention, and reduce turnover, organisations need to avoid employing an unsuitable individual at the outset. This will have an overall effect of reducing the time, effort and costs the organisation will have to focus on either recruiting their replacement in the future or repairing any damage caused to the organisation by the individual, whether internally by lowering morale or externally through detrimentally impacting the reputation of the business.


To recruit the most suitable employee, organisations should carry out appropriate and
proportionate pre-employment checks to determine the suitability of the candidate. As
traditional recruitment practices continue to evolve, partly driven by the development
of technology, organisations need to ensure they follow pre-employment checking
procedures that are both legal and ethical.


The key pre-employment checks that most organisations will consider carrying out during their recruitment process include but are not limited to:
right-to-work checks – the global movement of job-seekers has created an obligation
on organisations to ensure they are not employing those who do not have permission to
work in the UK, or in the particular role they are employed to undertake
criminal record checks – to comply with legal obligations, and to ensure the safeguarding
of vulnerable members of society, organisations may be required to request records to
determine whether ex-offenders are suitable for particular employment
medical checks – with an increasing focus on the inclusivity and diversity of recruitment
processes, organisations need to tread carefully when asking questions relating to health
and medical information
reference checks – organisations are not usually under any legal obligation to obtain
an employment reference, and there is no automatic right to receive a reference from
a previous or current employer (except in certain sectors). However, it is common to
request at least one reference and, as employers are under a duty of care to provide
references that are accurate and not misleading, it is essential that they handle both the
provision and receiving of references carefully accessible by organisations when determining the overall suitability of an individual, but care must be taken to handle and use this information in the right way.

You should however note that all pre-employment checks must to be carried out in accordance with the six data protection principles, as set out within the Data Protection Act 2018.

Carrying out pre-employment checks is an important part of the recruitment process whereby organisations consider whether the candidate is eligible for the job role.
With the selection of candidates focusing on their suitability for the job role, many organisations carry out pre-employment checks to safeguard their business from any negative impact caused by the recruitment of the individual.

Step 5 – Induction/Onboarding

An induction is the process for welcoming newly recruited employees and supporting them to adjust to their new roles and working environments. Starting a new job can be a stressful experience and new employees need help to settle in.

An employee’s first impressions of an organisation have a significant impact on their integration within the team and job satisfaction. Induction is an opportunity for an organisation to welcome their new recruit, help them settle in and ensure they have the knowledge and support they need to perform their role. For an employer, effective induction may also affect employee turnover, absenteeism and employer brand.

The induction process depends on the size and nature of an organisation as well as the role of the recruit. However, regardless of organisation size, an induction processes should cover the following:

  • collate personal information which should include – HMRC new starter form, personal details form, issue of any company property, issue of any PPE, workstation assessment (if applicable)
  • practical information about organisational procedures (e.g. building orientation, inclusion and diversity, health, safety, and wellbeing).
  • systems and procedures, company strategy and services (such as company values and behaviours), 
  • job specific information (e.g. department information, job requirements and objectives),
  • an introduction, virtual or in-person, to the wider team – this ensures new recruits have something in their diary in the first few weeks, and understand where their role fits and how they can work with others. 
  • Auto enrolment into Pension scheme (if eligible)

This process is key in ensuring a positive and engaging experience for the new starter.

Management and HR also need consider the ongoing support that a new employee will need to order to settle in and acquire the knowledge they need for their role. A ‘buddy’ or coaching and mentoring system can provide support to help new employees settle in, and ensure new starters understand the learning and development opportunities available to them. 

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