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The essential ingredient

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Hiring a new person for your business can be a daunting experience. Here are some tips and processes to consider before you take that step and get people in for their interview.

Any business owner will tell you that their key employees are an essential part of their success. However, employees can also cause an employer headaches and distress.

Like most small businesses you probably don’t have the luxury of a dedicated human resources (HR) person. The business owner usually takes on this role. If that’s the case, develop a HR policy and procedures manual so you can effectively align your business goals and objectives and communicate them to your staff. This is all part of developing systems in your business.

Finding the right people to help your business grow can be difficult, but you can do things to help make hiring staff less of a lucky dip. There is no exact formula to follow when choosing the right person for the job.

Someone may look great in the interview, but after a couple of months in the job, you could discover you have a ticking time bomb. Use this guide to help you make the right choice.

Examine the situation

From the start, look at the job and ask:

  • What work will this new recruit do?
  • Do I really need a new person or could I promote an existing employee?
  • Do I need someone full-time, part-time, a casual or would a contractor be just as good?

Draw up a job description

To help clarify what the job involves and how to find someone to do it, the first thing to do is write a detailed job description. When you’re familiar with the job, you can then use the job description to help you write out your advertisement and your contract of employment – this should state what you expect your employee to do. It’s amazing how comfortable a new person feels with something in writing that informs them of what their work duties are.

A job description also helps you see if you need to recruit a full-time employee or someone on a permanent part-time or casual basis, or even a contractor. Each one has different legal obligations for you, so protect yourself by being clear from the start about the job you’re offering.

What’s the difference?
Permanent full-time

  • Work is on a full-time, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis for an indefinite period
  • Employees accumulate service entitling them to benefits, such as leave, etc.

Permanent part-time

  • Days/hours worked on a regular basis but over fewer hours than full-time staff
  • Awards usually contain provisions about how you can employ part-time workers
  • If a part-time worker does become full-time, remember that a new contract of employment arises.

Casual employees

  • Short-term employment
  • Usually irregular hours or days
  • Work only as and when required
  • No ongoing employment, other than hourly or daily.

Calling an employee casual and paying them as such doesn’t mean they are casual. Casuals are likely to be part of your permanent staff if they:

  • Work over a long period of time
  • Work regularly
  • Expect to continue working
  • Have to give you notice or request leave.

Know the difference
If you think staff are casual but are really permanent, you run the risk of underpayment. Casuals are paid differently and don’t get the same benefits awarded to permanent staff. You can hire a casual and keep them permanently, but then you’re changing the legal basis of their employment and their pay and entitlements to things such as accruing years of service, long service leave, etc. You should agree on a new contract and set this out in writing.

Cover these areas:

  • What does the job achieve?
  • What are the employee’s responsibilities?
  • How much work is there to be done?
  • To whom does the employee report?

To get this information

  • Look at how the job is being done
  • Talk to the employee currently doing it.

The nitty gritty

OK, so now you have a good idea of the job. What experience does it require? Create a list using the following headings:

  • Qualifications – what is their education level? (School leaver, diploma, degree, etc.)
  • Skills and abilities – what are their technical skills? What type of work experience is required?
  • Is attention to detail and sustained concentration required?
  • Is manual dexterity important?
  • What about their physical fitness?
  • Do they need to be well organised and highly disciplined?
  • Are problem-solving skills needed?
  • Do they need to be self motivated and work alone?

Working with others

  • Do you need a team player?
  • Is this a leadership role?
  • If the employee works with customers and suppliers, what sort of person will do this well?

Setting your job standards

Establish the standard of work you expect. Concentrate on the essential features, as you’re more likely to find more suitable applicants.

So you’ve worked out the job description, the pay and the person you need. Where will you find the right person? Perhaps there’s someone you can promote in your business already. Don’t overlook this possibility.

Writing an ad
You’ve now done the groundwork that forms the framework of the advertisement. When writing your ad, aim to sell the job and attract only those truly suitable to the position. The hard part of writing the job ad is over once you’ve worked out what you want.

Essential facts to include in the ad:

  • Job title and main duties
  • Qualifications and experience
  • Location
  • Information about the company
  • Pay and benefits (optional)
  • How to apply (online, fax, phone or email) and to whom to address the application.

Make your ad specific in order to narrow down applicants and don’t give misleading information about the work, conditions or pay. Never make any preference for employees of a certain age, sex, race or marital status.

Also, ask around to see if anyone knows a good available worker. A recommendation is often the best.

Doing the form work

An application form helps you get only information you want. A form also lets you compare similar types of applicants so you can compare apples with apples.

Published on: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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