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Hiring 101 Guide: Recruiting and Hiring Employees

There are multiple phases and requirements when hiring employees for your business. Learn about requirements for hiring and how to hire employees with Paychex.
employer hiring a new employee

Knowing what’s required for effectively recruiting and hiring employees may be among a business's strongest assets. As the economy slowly emerges after the challenges of the last two years, recruiting and hiring qualified employees has become a top priority for many. That's why it's vital for employers to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to bring new employees on board.

Employee Recruiting Process: How To Hire Employees Effectively

When taking steps to hire employees, the importance of preparation can't be overstated. Generally, there are three phases of the process for hiring a new employee, for which preparation is key:

  • Evaluating the needs of the business (including creating job descriptions)
  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing

Knowing and following these steps to hire an employee can help reduce unnecessary expenditures of resources or the duplication of efforts within the business.

Here are some key steps for effectively hiring new employees.

Evaluate the Needs of the Business

It’s challenging to focus on hiring employees if you are unclear about the needs of the business or the position itself. Employers should identify where there are talent gaps in the business and the need for an employee.

A job analysis can help identify the skills, knowledge, education, abilities, and experience a prospective candidate should possess to perform a specific job. Your challenge is to determine the level of work experience needed, as well as the appropriate levels of education, training, and/or need for certification. One tip: When possible, assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals who have successfully performed this role, and factor relevant criteria into the job analysis. However, it’s important to analyze the position and how someone could effectively perform in it, not just those who have previously held the job. For comparative purposes, consider also researching similar roles and responsibilities from other companies or positions.

Creating a Job Description

Attracting qualified candidates often hinges on a carefully crafted and accurate job description. To identify the details that will shape your job description, answer questions such as:

  • What specific duties and essential functions will the role entail?
  • What skill set, education, or experience will the person need to succeed in the role and add value to your business?
  • Where will the person work, and during what hours? Will they be remote, fully in-person, or a hybrid of the two?
  • What tools, software, or technology resources will the employee be provided to do the job?
  • Is travel required?

Also pay close attention to:

  • Job title: Be sure the job title is consistent with similar positions in the marketplace. The job title should not reference or imply discrimination based on any protected characteristic (e.g. gender or age).
  • Key responsibilities, skills, and qualifications: A concise but appropriately detailed listing of essential and secondary functions gives candidates a better idea of what the position entails.
  • Formatting/Style: Stay away from long, rambling sentences, instead look to make the wording easy to skim and comprehend. Use bullet points and present-tense verbs.

In general, the more accurate your job description, the better you can maintain parameters around the types of skills or experiences you'll consider as a minimum requirement, so you can quickly screen out applicants who lack the necessary skills for the role. The more detailed you are in your description, the more likely it may be that you will attract applicants who are qualified, eager, and excited to help your business succeed.

You should also inform applicants if the work is or can be performed remotely. Flexibility in the workplace can be an enticing perk and a valuable recruiting tool, which we’ve seen as businesses grapple with labor shortages. If you do allow for remote work, you may also want to include certain skill sets needed for successful remote work, such as the ability to work in virtual teams and good communication skills.

Finding Qualified Candidates

You know precisely what the job entails, but what is the process of attracting qualified job candidates to fill the position? The best hiring solutions include a comprehensive strategy to attract the right job seekers from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:

  • Employee referrals. Who do your current employees know that might fit the bill?
  • Online job postings. Make use of online employment sites to advertise the position.
  • Networking. Turn to your professional network, asking friends and colleagues to suggest qualified candidates.
  • Consider past candidates if their prior information is still available to you.
  • Advertise on your company website. Consider drafting a compelling statement on your "Join Our Team" page, "selling" prospective employees on your company's vision, mission, and values. Let job seekers know what sets your business apart from others, and why it's such an attractive place to work. And make it as easy as possible for interested candidates to submit their application.

Keep in mind that state and/or local law may require you to disclose the expected pay range and benefits to job applicants. This disclosure may be required as early as in the job posting, while other pay transparency laws may require that this information be made available at the point of an interview or at the time an offer is made.

Following some or all of these steps for how to recruit new employees can greatly impact the time and resources you expend in search of a great job candidate.

Invest in Inbound Recruiting

Consider inbound recruiting — an online strategy that can position businesses to attract the most qualified candidates. Employee recruitment strategies include:

  • Cultivating a social media presence: This includes posting fresh, relevant content on a regular basis to capture job seekers' attention. This can be a great way to build relationships with people you may ultimately want to hire.
  • Optimizing your website: Google now ranks websites based in part on their optimization for mobile viewing, one of many reasons to ensure that your site loads quickly and easily for on-the-go job candidates.
  • Making your careers page an exciting place to visit: Getting a job seeker to visit your careers page is just the first step. Once there, it's imperative that the prospective candidate finds an up-to-date compilation of job listings and useful information on how to apply. You may also want to consider including a direct link to an HR staff member to empower applicants to take action and stay connected.

The more you can spread the word about job openings, the greater the likelihood of recruiting employees with the type of skills and qualifications you are seeking.

Use an Applicant Tracking System

If you've successfully leveraged the recruiting solutions mentioned above, you should receive a significant number of job applications. How can you keep track of them and, more importantly, identify the most qualified candidates?

Technology has transformed the recruiting process. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) comprised of computer algorithms can now parse large amounts of job applicant data at a far greater speed than humans can to detect patterns of behavior, candidate qualifications, and even keywords that can add visibility to job postings. ATS can also help gather insights into metrics around open positions, number of days it took to fill the position, the number of applications received, interviews conducted, and jobs offered, allowing your company to streamline and optimize each step of the employee hiring process. Even basic yet essential steps such as forwarding resumes to a hiring manager can be automated, helping to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

By having a paperless recruiting and applicant tracking system, your business can save time and potentially reduce costs by making it easier for HR managers and others involved in the hiring process to analyze the information they receive from job seekers — and ultimately identify candidates worth pursuing more efficiently.

Have a Job Interview Strategy

After you identify candidates for the position, having a well-planned interviewing strategy can help you uncover useful information during the process. When developing your interview approach, consider the following steps:

  • An initial submission: This could be a simple cover letter or a list of answers to several specified questions. This requirement will help screen out candidates who are looking to submit the same resume to as many open positions as possible and will help identify those who are willing to put in effort for the right job.
  • A comprehensive interview: Interviews should include a mixture of questions designed to assess the candidate's skills, as well as gauge a potential fit within the company's culture. An interview should also inform the candidate about the open position and the company as a whole. Be prepared to offer this type of commentary to ensure a better employer-employee match. It’s also important to train supervisors and those who will serve as interviewers on discrimination laws and provide instruction on appropriate interviewing questions.
  • Remote interview prep, if needed: When an interview is taking place remotely, you may want to make slight adjustments. Questions can be similar, but the tone of the interview may need to change when the conversation takes place over a video or phone call. For instance, a candidate who may be home with a child may experience interruptions during the interview. Communicate and have patience if the interviewee needs to take a quick break or step away from the call to close the door. If you're open to hiring remote workers, ask the candidates about their experience working from home and if they believe they can thrive in this type of environment.
  • Keep candidates in the loop: Keep your candidates in the loop after the interview and set post-interview expectations of when they can expect to hear from you. Sticking to them may help employer avoid losing candidates to other employers.
  • Interview follow-up: Gather feedback from everyone involved in the process to help you decide your next steps in regard to each candidate.

While you may hope to find your perfect candidate and get them working quickly, rushing the interview process can result in a poor match for your company, a candidate who doesn't fully understand the demands of the job, or lost time and wages in having to replace an under-qualified worker.

Conduct Background and Reference Checks

When you're down to your top candidate who may seem perfectly suited for an open position and ready to make an offer of employment, consider the benefits of extending a contingent job offer subject to a thorough background check. The candidate should authorize a background check as part of the application process, through a separate release form, which allows you to make the necessary inquiries to validate prior employment. Additionally, know that federal, state, and/or local laws may restrict the information employers are permitted to obtain and/or use prior to an offer of employment or that they may use in an employment decision. Learn more about pre-employment background check laws and regulations.

A background check may include verifying certain information the candidate has on their resume, such as educational credentials and prior work experience. It's also recommended that you contact any references the candidate has provided.

The cost of unsuccessful hires can be staggering, both in terms of money lost and a demoralizing effect on the workplace. Avoid typical hiring mistakes — such as overlooking the potential of internal candidates or skipping background checks — by working closely with your HR team.

Selecting a Candidate

A thorough interviewing process will hopefully help you and your team select a great candidate who can bring the right qualifications and values to the business. Once you feel confident in making a decision, the next steps in selecting a job candidate include:

  • Making a contingent job offer and sharing compensation package details: Often a member of human resources or a hiring manager will contact the candidate directly to extend a job offer. This will be accompanied by a formal letter or communication that includes specific details about the candidate’s total compensation package (pay, benefits, perks, etc., if this information isn’t required to be disclosed before the offer stage). It may also include details regarding the contingencies, i.e., background check, drug test where applicable, and the candidate’s proposed start date.
  • Negotiating, if necessary: If the candidate comes back with a counteroffer on pay or benefits, there may be a period of negotiations. It’s important to have concrete deadlines set for both parties to keep the selection process moving along.
  • Informing other candidates: The ways in which you turn down other candidates can speak volumes about your recruiting process. Aim for clear, timely, and professional communication, rather than long delays or a lack of follow-up. Consider the possibility that candidates may be a fit for a different role in the future, which is why it’s important to give them a positive experience with your company.

The Onboarding Process After Hiring a New Employee

The most successful hiring strategy emphasizes the value of a comprehensive employee onboarding process. The sooner you help the new hire become engaged with your organization, the more you increase the chances that they will stay with your business for years to come. Follow these crucial onboarding steps:

Have Your Onboarding Paperwork Ready

When hiring a new employee, you want to do everything in your power to make the individual feel at home with your business. Effective employee onboarding is one of the most important elements in getting the new hire oriented and comfortable and helping to ensure that the new hire stays with your company for the foreseeable future.

Whether you have an electronic or paper-based system, make sure to set up a new file for the employee. All hiring-related documentation should be stored in a personnel file as the individual transitions to employment with the company. New-hire forms will be added to the file and pertinent data uploaded to your HR platform to ensure the employee is paid correctly.

What forms are required when hiring? Documents and paperwork for hiring may vary by company or position, but will include :

  • Form I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification: This establishes the employee's identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. To make sure you use the most current Form I-9, visit the USCIS website.
  • Form W-4 – Employee's Withholding Certificate: This outlines the amount of taxes to be withheld from wages. Find the most recent version of this form on the IRS website.
  • State and Local tax withholding forms: These may also need to be completed, depending on the state and locality. Check your state and local government websites to find the correct versions of tax forms.

Hiring Remote Workers

The hiring process may include specific steps for remote workers. All new hires will likely need to receive company orientation and training. While those who work in the physical workplace may receive this onsite, consider whether remote workers will need to come into the workplace or whether they can complete it online. You may also want to make sure that remote employees are added to the company's online discussion groups and welcomed by their new co-workers. All remote employees should be transitioned onto company technology platforms and assigned any equipment required to perform their jobs from a remote location.

With all of these considerations in mind, learn more about the benefits of streamlining the new employee onboarding process, including the benefits of automating employee onboarding for both onsite and offsite team members.

Additional Considerations When Hiring Employees

An important note when hiring an employee: some states may have specific new-hire notification requirements. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Paid sick leave notifications
  • Wage-theft prevention and unemployment notices
  • Sexual harassment and workers' compensation pamphlets

It's particularly important to review your policies with your HR team or legal counsel — including sick leave and paid time off — prior to bringing back or hiring new employees to be sure the company is in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

When in Doubt, Over-Communicate

Don't forget that communication is key — especially now.

Many companies will likely rely upon flexible work schedules and remote work arrangements as back-to-business efforts from the impact of COVID-19 continue. At the time of the offer make sure to clearly communicate changes to new (and rehired) employees, it will be crucial to your return-to-work strategy and could be important in a candidate’s decision to accept the offer.

Additionally, make sure you are communicating any new workplace safety protocols — such as cleaning practices or social distancing measures — to help ease any potential employee concerns about coming into the workplace.

How Hiring Services Can Help

Looking for additional guidance on how to improve your hiring and recruiting process? Hiring services can provide innovative solutions as well as reliable, actionable HR advice to help you understand how to recruit and hire the best candidates for your role, uncover important information about potential employees, and efficiently welcome new hires in a way that makes an impact. Beyond hiring, learn how Paychex HR Services can provide assistance to help with your business’s current and future HR challenges.

We can help you tackle business challenges like these Contact us today

* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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