Hiring employees is inevitable for any business owner whose primary objective is growth. Yet, adding more team members simply to meet demand may not be the wisest choice. Recruitment can be expensive and hiring the wrong person only adds to overall business costs. So, how do employers find the right candidate – one who’s capable of furthering the business’s agenda and improving workplace culture? The following tips may help.

Determine the type of positions needed

It doesn’t make any more sense to hire a full-time employee for a short-term project than it would to drive a nail with a sledgehammer. Recruiters, much like tradespeople who need the right tool for the job, must understand the type of role that will fill a position most effectively. Their options include:

  • Full-time employees
    Employees who work 30 hours or more per week can increase productive output, but are more expensive than other types of workers because they generally qualify for employer benefits.
  • Part-time employees
    Employers who haven’t quite figured out how much assistance they need may find part-time employees to be a cost-effective option.
  • Temporary employees
    These types of workers can help fill short-term requirements quickly and generally are not eligible for benefits.
  • Seasonal employees
    If a business flourishes during a particular season, it may make sense to hire employees exclusively for those times when extra hands are needed.
  • Independent contractors
    Freelancers are self-employed and can lend specialized expertise on a project-by-project basis. When working with such individuals, employers should exercise caution so that they don’t misclassify an independent contractor as an employee or vice versa.
  • Interns
    Internships allow students to obtain entry-level experience in a job or field of their interest and give employers the chance to develop potential future employees. Note, however, that internship programs must comply with wage and hour requirements. The circumstances under which interns can be unpaid are highly specific and narrow. 

Define job roles and responsibilities

Finding a candidate who can be relied upon starts with understanding the responsibilities of the position. Some of the key aspects to consider are:

  • Essential functions
    A job’s core responsibilities consist of daily functions, as well as duties that recur infrequently. If workloads and time commitments are expected to increase, such as during peak seasons or events, those details should be made clear from the start.
  • Supervision
    Some jobs are autonomous, while others require a good deal of oversight. Whether the person in the role will one day supervise others is also important to keep in mind.
  • Physical demands
    Employers should state in the job description whether the position requires heaving lifting, walking, long periods of standing or any other physical requirements.

Create a list of requirements

One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is setting standards that no candidate can match. To avoid this pitfall, separate the “must haves” from the “nice-to-haves” when asking these questions:

  • How many years of experience in a particular industry or role are necessary?
  • Does the position require a college degree or certain licenses and certifications?
  • If travel is part of the job, how frequent is it and what does it entail?
  • Are there any acceptable alternatives to the expected qualifications?

Now is also the time to decide how much compensation will be offered based on the candidate’s experience. In fact, some states and localities require employers to disclose salary ranges for any jobs, promotions or transfer opportunities that they advertise.

HR technology solutions can provide industry and geographic benchmark data to assist with making decisions about compensation. Or, lacking technology, employers can reference the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on the market rate for particular jobs. Note, however, that compensation data is primarily used to assess competitive pay in a market and is not intended to guard against equal pay issues.

Find candidates

Once employers have a solid grasp of who and what they need to help their business grow and succeed, their next step is to find someone to fill the position. This process, known as talent acquisition, largely consists of creating a job description and targeting the right candidates.

Writing a job description

Job descriptions that entice qualified candidates to apply generally contain the following elements:

  • Brief company overview
    Describe the business’s industry, products and services, and mission and vision. To maximize appeal, this portion of the ad can also be used to highlight company perks and benefits.
  • Qualifications and essential functions
    Be as specific as possible about the job’s responsibilities and the desired skills and experience to limit applications from unqualified candidates. Also remember to separate the “must-have” from the “need-to-have” qualifications.
  • Selection requirements
    Include any pre-employment screening requirements – certifications, questionnaires, drug tests, criminal background checks, etc. – and ensure they are consistent with the applicable federal, state and local rules.
  • Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) statement
    Demonstrate that the business doesn’t discriminate on the basis of any characteristics that are protected by law with an EOE statement.
  • Salary range
    In accordance with any state or local requirements concerning wage and salary transparency, indicate a range of compensation for the position so that candidates understand pay expectations.
  • Job location
    Give the location of the office or job site if work will primarily be conducted in person. Or, state if hybrid and virtual or remote work is acceptable.

Where to post jobs

Getting a job ad or requisition in front of the right pairs of eyes requires a medium that hits multiple groups of candidates. Here are a few ways to get the word out:

  • Online advertising
    Career websites and job boards are typically an inexpensive way to reach a wide audience, but standing out from competitors can be difficult without an HR and recruitment solution that can help manage ad placement across various channels and measure return on investment (ROI).
  • Niche outlets
    Examples include community bulletins, vocational-rehabilitation agencies, National Urban League, Private Industry Council, Job Corps, business alliance groups, local chambers of commerce, etc.
  • Newspaper advertising
    Limited in terms of word count and geographic span, newspaper ads are best for manual, administrative, entry-level or local jobs.
  • Trade journals
    Employers who are looking for people with vocational or specialized skills, such as medical practitioners or technicians, may benefit from posting a job in a trade journal.
  • Professional associations
    By contacting a professional or alumni organization, it’s possible to zero in on candidates who have years of experience in a specific field.
  • Career fairs and college career centers
    Promoting a job in person has the added advantage of face-to-face interaction, allowing recruiters to ask questions and evaluate if someone is a good fit from the very beginning.

Narrow the pool of candidates

Resumes and application forms are valuable tools for assessing a candidate’s employment and education history. Review these documents carefully to see how well the applicant’s experience and qualifications meet the expectations set forth in the job description. If few resumes are received, reassess the content and the placement of the ad.

Pre-screening questions and pre-employment tests are other effective ways to evaluate candidates. Ideally, they should only measure the knowledge or skills that an applicant would need to perform the job and not cause a disproportionate adverse impact on the employment opportunities of any race, sex, ethnic group or other applicable protected category. Pre-employment tests must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act if the business is covered under that law. Employers should check whether any additional state or local requirements apply that may impact compliance.

Hire employees

Conduct interviews

Interviews are an opportunity for a handful of promising potentials to shine in person, but they’re not the only ones under pressure to perform. Recruiters who aren’t diligent could suffer a setback at this stage. Best-practice guidance is to:

  • Prepare
    Every person who will be conducting the interview, not just HR, should set aside adequate time to review the candidate’s resume or application and prepare a list of relevant questions. This step may require particular coordination when interviews involve multiple people throughout the business.
  • Be consistent
    All applicants for a given position should be subject to the same set of requirements. Not only does this allow recruiters to make valid comparisons, but it also helps demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Ask only job-related questions
    Federal, state and local laws prohibit employers from asking interview questions that probe protected characteristics, such as age, marital status, race, religion, national origin, military status or disability.
  • Consider behavioral-based questioning
    Asking candidates to describe a problem they encountered at a previous job and how they resolved it provides a snapshot of their competency and character.
  • Take notes
    Notes on each candidate’s skills, experience, interview responses and any other job-related information that was discussed should be shared amongst the interviewers. When such correspondence is timely, it often leads to a consolidated review and decision.

Select a candidate

Choosing a candidate isn’t always easy, especially when more than one of them have stellar resumes and ace the interview. Ask these questions to help guide the decision:

  • Which candidate best meets the required experience and skillset of the job?
  • Who brings the most value to the project and the team they’ll be joining? 
  • Which candidate will fit in best with the company’s vision and its culture?

It also helps to have an HR and recruitment solution that can consolidate interview notes and streamline the review process prior to making an offer.

Extend a job offer

When a candidate is finally selected, it’s customary to extend the offer via phone, followed by a letter that outlines the following:

  • Job title
  • Pay
  • Expected start date
  • Supervisor’s name
  • Brief summary of benefits
  • Exempt or non-exempt classification of position
  • Whether the position is part time or full time
  • Employment at-will relationship (recognized in all states except Montana)
  • The contingent nature of the offer (contingency based on background checks and reference checks)
  • Any other requirements dictated by law

Those who were rejected should also receive a letter thanking them for their interest and wishing them luck in their continued job search. If using an HR and recruitment solution, employers can create a pool of previous candidates who may be a fit for future roles at the company.

Run a background check

Depending on the industry and the nature of the position, background checks can be a helpful way of evaluating a potential new hire’s previous work, education, criminal records and driving records. However, various state and local laws set limits on obtaining and using such information to make employment decisions.

Employers who initiate a background check generally are required to:

  • Notify the individual in writing via a separate document from the application form
  • Obtain the individual’s written authorization
  • Comply with all Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements
  • Not discriminate against the applicant or employee or otherwise misuse the information

Other regulations may apply, so employers should consult legal counsel before running a background check.

Fulfill legal requirements

When onboarding employees, all employers must complete the necessary paperwork – Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, Form I-9, new hire reports, etc. First-time employers, however, have a few more obligations to fulfill before their employees can begin working. To help avoid a compliance violation, they generally must:

  • Apply for an employer identification number (EIN)
    If not already obtained at the time the business was incorporated, an EIN is necessary to pay employees and file taxes.
  • Purchase workers’ compensation insurance
    Workers’ comp covers medical and rehabilitation expenses, as well as lost wages, for employees who are injured on the job.
  • Display workplace posters
    The Department of Labor (DOL) and state and local labor departments require U.S. businesses to display the correct posters in their workplace.
  • Choose a payroll service
    Working with a payroll service provider, like ADP, streamlines the process of paying employees and filing taxes, making it that much easier to expand a team.
  • Set up recordkeeping
    Employers have to save payroll records for the specific lengths of time dictated by federal and state laws.

Tracking the progress and completion of onboarding paperwork is often easier with a digital HR solution that integrates with payroll. The mobile capabilities common with this type of technology also make onboarding more flexible and convenient for new hires.

Onboard the new employee

A quality onboarding experience can improve the loyalty and productivity of new hires, while a poor one often leads to a lack of employee engagement and high turnover rates. Getting off on the right foot with new employees generally requires an orientation in a welcoming environment where they can learn about the company’s mission and vision and meet their fellow colleagues. Training is also typically provided to help ensure safety and productivity on the job. Learning opportunities should continue beyond onboarding, accompanied by frequent check-ins with supervisors, for long-term growth and development.

Tips for hiring remote employees and keeping them engaged

Recruiting remote employees greatly expands an employer’s talent pool because they’re no longer confined to a single geographic area. The hiring process, however, is a bit different from in-person candidates. To increase their chances of success with employees who will be telecommuting, employers should:

  • Use technology effectively
    Video conferencing tools allow recruiters to get to know remote candidates better through face-to-face interaction.
  • Tailor job criteria to remote work
    Job postings should clearly specify expectations to help ensure that only those with the organization and self-discipline necessary to excel at remote work apply.
  • Provide the necessary tools
    Employees’ credentials, laptops and any other equipment needed to perform work remotely should be provided by the employer ahead of the expected start date.
  • Keep the lines of communication open
    Due to the lack of in-person contact, it’s important for supervisors to communicate regularly with remote new hires and address any questions they may have.

Frequently asked questions about hiring employees

What is needed to start hiring employees?

Before they can hire employees, first-time employers generally need the following:

  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Department of Labor (DOL) workplace posters
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Payroll software or service provider

How do you hire employees quickly?

Rushing the recruitment process is generally ill advised, but sometimes positions need to be filled quickly. To avoid hiring the wrong candidate, employers may follow these steps:

  • Understand the job’s core responsibilities and necessary skillsets
  • Make sure the candidate is a good fit with the organization’s culture
  • Create a mix of different interview questions in advance
  • Have several people interview the candidate at one time
  • Address any concerns as a group before extending an offer

How do small businesses hire employees?

It can be challenging for small business owners to compete with larger organizations for talent. To improve their chances of finding and keeping the best candidates in their field, they can:

  • Improve the candidate experience so it’s easy to find and apply for jobs
  • Build the employer brand and make it visible to the target audience
  • Source talent from the channels that yield the most qualified candidates
  • Consider recruitment process outsourcing to fill HR gaps

What are the steps of the hiring process?

Employers that want to fill job openings must be in tune with what it takes to find candidates and hire them. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Determine the type of help that’s needed (full-time, part-time, etc.)
  2. Define the job’s responsibilities and the requirements of an ideal candidate
  3. Write the job description and post it where it will reach the right people
  4. Identify promising applicants and invite them to an interview
  5. Select the most qualified candidate and extend a conditional job offer
  6. Conduct compliant, job-related background and reference checks when appropriate
  7. Onboard the new hire in full compliance with employment regulations

This article is intended to be used as a starting point in analyzing hiring and is not a comprehensive resource of requirements. It offers practical information concerning the subject matter and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal or tax advice or other professional services.