Top Tips: Hiring Staff

Hiring staff

You need to prepare a job description, a statement about what you expect from the post-holder. But a job description also has formal status. Make a bulleted list about what you want the role to cover. Include at least one bullet which provides you flexibility eg “other duties as required to support colleagues”. At the top include the job title and their position in your organisation (to whom will they report?) and a short summary of the main purpose of the job. 

Are there specific experience, skills or qualification which you need the new recruit to have? Include a list under the heading ‘Skills and Experience’.

Be specific. It is better to ask for familiarity with MS Excel and Outlook than the vague ‘computer literate’.

Full time, part time, permanent or fixed term?

There may be advantages to recruiting fixed term or part time employees. Fixed term contracts allow your business to respond to temporarily increased demand without committing to long term expenditure. Part time contracts can provide flexibility for both employer and employee. Terms and conditions in other regards must be the same as for equivalent full time, permanent roles.    

Avoiding discrimination

It is against the law to treat someone less favourably than others because of a personal characteristic: gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or religion. Discrimination could be in the form of not hiring someone, or differences in level of pay. To be illegal, it does not have to be deliberate or intentional. You can discriminate indirectly with working conditions or rules that disadvantage one group of people more than another.

In job adverts, you mustn’t state or imply that you’ll discriminate. This includes saying that you aren’t able to cater for workers with a disability. Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. This could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get certain qualifications. Where you advertise might also cause indirect discrimination - for example, advertising only in men’s magazines.

Don’t ask for date of birth on application forms, however you can indicate an unarguable requirement of the job, eg the need to be over 18 years old to sell alcohol.

Making a job offer

Once you have advertised, sifted through applications, shortlisted and interviewed, you will hopefully be ready to offer your preferred candidate the role. The offer should be made in writing (though you may wish to call the successful candidate to let them know that a written offer is coming). This written offer is important, since it has the status of a contract. It should include:

  • A cross reference to the job description
  • A starting salary, plus details of any planned salary reviews
  • Summary of pension arrangements, car allowances and/or other benefits
  • Arrangements for objective setting and performance appraisal
  • Holiday-leave entitlement
  • Hours of work (including a right to vary these occasionally)
  • Probation arrangements

The offer should be explicitly subject to references – if these have not already been taken up. It should also be subject to the candidate’s right to work in the UK. You should ask to see a passport or other document which proves that they may work here.

You should sign this offer and send, together with other documents (such as more details of pension schemes, job description, etc), and ask for the successful candidate to sign a copy and return it to you.


You should seek references for you potential new recruit, but remember that former employers are under no legal obligation to provide a reference. Some organisations have policies which restrict references to factual information about the employment in question.  If you are not reassured by the references you obtain, it is reasonable for you to ask the candidate for an additional referee to approach.

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