Writing the Perfect Job Ad
It is easy to think that finding the perfect candidate for your job vacancy starts when the resumes and CV start coming in. But the reality is that the process begins with the job advertisement. To get the right candidate, you need the perfect job ad that tells them what they need to know and sparks their interest. So how do you write this perfect ad?
Basic Elements of the Ad
There is no set format to use for a job advert but there are some elements that are recommended to be included in them to help find that perfect candidate. In formatting, keep everything simple and clear to read without extravagant graphics or fonts.
The process starts with the job title – opt for something that will come up easily in searches and will be easy to grasp what the job is about. Go for simple titles such as Advertising Executive or HR Manager rather than using a complex, full title.
Next, give a short introduction to the job, usually around 40 words. Don’t talk about the company but rather the role to allow people to make a quick decision whether it is for them or not. If it is, then they will keep reading.
Perhaps the most important sections of the ad are the role responsibilities and the person specification. These are the sections where you tell the candidate what they would be doing for you if they got the job. Don’t go into huge amounts of detail but give a clear outline of anywhere from three to seven of the main tasks of the job. Similarly, with the person specification, tell them what you need and what you would like. So a certain qualification or experience period might be needed while a secondary qualification might add to their appeal. This is the section of the ad that most people take the greatest time with.
Fill in the Details
Telling the candidate about the salary and benefits of the job is also crucial in the ad as people need to know if this is going to work for them financially. Make sure the information is clear and realistic and include any non-financial rewards too.
Next, inform the candidate where the role will be based and if there are any alternative locations they may need to work at is a good idea. You can even pop in a little information about the transport links or drop in any nearby facilities that staff use (even a good pub where everyone goes for lunch!).
You should also include some information about your company, even if you are a big international brand. Take the About Us section of the website, for example, then tailor it in relation to the job in question. Don’t go into too much detail, just a general flavour of who you are.
The last step is the next step the candidate needs to take to apply for the job. This might be an Apply Now button on some sites, submitting a CV or contacting you by email or phone. Make sure this is clear and stipulate any requirements such as a covering letter.
What to Look for in a CV
When you are recruiting for a position, you can be inundated with CVs, all of which tell a story. But how do you search through these stories to find the one that matches up best with your business’ needs? A key is knowing what to look for in a CV and here we have some tips.
When dealing with CVs, it pays to have a process that you can repeat for other vacancies. For starters, don’t look at the CVs until after the closing date has finished. Then start with the easy stuff, such as weeding out the ones who don’t have the skills or qualifications you need – this can be anything from having a full driving license to industry specific qualifications, whatever you listed as essential for the job.
Next conduct a preliminary sweep of the CVs contents. Look for spelling and grammar, readability and the general details of the person such as their previous experience. At one time, it was a little frowned up to have a professional written CV – employers believed you should be writing it yourself. But in a lot of jobs, the ability to write a great CV has no bearing on the job applied for and the time and money used to get that perfect CV shows a form of commitment in itself. Using a CV writing service isn’t just a case of getting someone to rewrite your CV using posh language – it is an interview process with time needed to do properly.
Look for generic CVs that show the candidate hasn’t put any consideration into the process and just sent out their basic one-size-fits-all document. Candidates should put some consideration into the CV, whether written themselves or by a professional CV writing company. This means specific information aimed at the position in question, experiences that are targeted towards your business or industry and relevant information. Avoid those with lots of pointless information about what they did in a job – you want to know what they brought to the position.
When you listed the job, you will have also listed the essential and the desired qualities, experience and skills for the position. Once you have a pile of well written CVs that had the essentials in place, you can start looking at them in terms of the desirable qualities.
Look at their previous experience – is it what you need? How long have they been in their jobs? Do they move around a lot for no clear reason or is there signs of a steady progress whether with one company or a few?
Also look at information about the individual as a person, their hobbies and interests. While these aren’t crucial, it helps to get a feel for someone and to guide on their possible suitability to the environment you will be offering. You can also use this section to write tips for the interview process, bringing in a touch of the personal to help relax the interviewee. This often lets people show themselves in their best (or worst!) light and gives you a better insight into their suitability.
Hiring a Freelancer
At one time, when a business needed someone to do a job they had to hire a new member of staff. Then they could be faced with finding work for someone once the project they were hired for had finished or had to pay out redundancy if this couldn’t be done. But then the world of freelancers developed and suddenly there was a new option – hiring a freelancer to do a specific job for a specific period of time. So how do you go about hiring a freelancer?
Going self-employed and becoming a freelancer is one of the biggest growth areas in the UK market with some 5 million people already having done so. This means businesses can access a wealth of talent on a ‘pay as you go’ type approach. For example, you might need a new website and want a web designer or you might need new content for an existing website. You can hire someone to do these specific jobs. You might also want someone more long term but not full time, say to write a weekly blog article or perform monthly system updates – again a freelancer can be ideal.
Then there is the financial side of hiring a freelancer. With the many options now for payments without actually giving out bank details such as PayPal, there is far less risk in the payment element. Many websites that freelancers use will also take and make the payment for you, giving you protection though they often charge for this. It also makes it official and easier to document for tax purposes plus most will use specialist accountants for contractors & freelancers to ensure everything is done correctly.
Getting the right person
If you advertise a job or look through people offering a service you require, there will always be plenty. So how do you choose the right freelancer from the crowds?
Websites that act as intermediaries between freelancers and clients, as mentioned, are a good idea to try. Most use a feedback system where customers can rate freelancers and gives you an idea of their standard of work. Many freelancers will have their own website but this may not be regularly updated as working for clients is more important than making their website look great – it often isn’t a source of business anyway. Recruitment companies also offer a similar service in their specific industry.
Look at the going rate for the job and pick someone who is sensible. Don’t always go for the cheapest option as this may result in cheap work – a combination of a sensible price and good feedback is a great indicator of a quality freelancer.
While a freelancer may not be a specialist in your area, you want someone who is willing to learn. So while they may not know much about your industry, their willingness to research whatever is needed and ask questions is another good indicator. Quality of communications is another element of this – if they can’t make sense when messaging with you, this might indicate a trying working relationships!
Finally, be upfront about what you need, your timescales and your budget. It saves a lot of time for both parties and quickly allows you both to see if you are a good fit for each other. Being cagey and vague isn’t a benefit for either of you.
Background Checks for Candidates
Finding the right candidate for a job is about getting a number of things together. You want the person with the right experience, approach and qualifications. You want someone who is enthusiastic about their new role and will fit in well with the team. Sometimes it can be easy to focus on all of this and forget about the important background checks for candidates. After all, there’s no point in getting the perfect candidate then finding out there is some reason that prevents them from taking the job.
Getting It Right
So what are the basic checks for employers that should be carried out for most all employees before they start in a position? The first one is the identity check. Make sure that you get the candidate’s authorisation before you start carrying out checks to ensure you comply with data protection regulations.
Next, you need to establish that the person is who they say they are. Often this will involve providing two forms of photo ID and one that confirms the address of the person or a similar makeup. The documents need to be originals and from a trustworthy and reliable source as well as being valid, dated and current – the best documents are ones that are difficult to forge such as passports or driving licenses.
After ID is firmly established, you may next want to perform a Criminal Records Bureau check, now known as a Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS checks. There is a form to complete along with the paperwork confirming the person’s identity, although there are now quite a few businesses that provide online background checks. Once the checks are complete, the employee is provided with a certificate that is presented to the potential employer. There are three levels of this check depending on the type of job in question – standard, enhanced and enhanced with list checks.
Once you have established their ID, you need to also check to see if they have the ‘right to work’ in the UK. This involves taking copies of documents confirming they are able to work in the UK as well as identity check paperwork to confirm the person is who they say they are.
Some jobs may require a health check before an employee can take up a position. This may be if the job requires it or for legal reasons, such as an eye test for drivers of commercial vehicles. Written consent is required before this check can be carried out and employees can ask to have a copy of the report, ask for information to be changed and even deny it to an employer if they want.
Many companies now consider conducting background checks before the interview process to establish some of this information in advance. This can help find the candidates who are withholding information and save the company money and time in putting them through the interview and full checks process. Third party companies can often provide these services to save the employer having to do so and these companies will have a better understanding of how and where to get this information, making for a quicker and more efficient proves.
Getting the Most from an Interview
Going for an interview is huge for most people but it should also be huge for employers. Getting the best out of an interview is crucial to get the right candidate. It should be about giving information about the job, the duties and the company as much as getting information from the candidate. So how can you get the most from an interview?
Preparing for an interview should be a serious undertaking. Sure, you will likely know enough about the job in question to be able to converse about it with the candidate but it never hurts to brush up. You also need to look at what questions you want to ask or what information you need to gather. Write yourself a checklist of points to cover as well as a list of questions to ask.
It is important to ask every candidate the same basic questions to allow yourself to compare them and ask plenty of open ended questions to allow people to expand on their answers. It also pays to learn a little about the candidate before the interview, reviewing their cover letter and resume as well as any checks that have been carried out with their permission. You could even have a look at their professional social media accounts.
What To Do
There are no rules about interviews but there are some good tips about what to do to get the best from the candidate and make the right decision. For starters, make the candidate feel comfortable, show them around the office before you start and introduce them to a few members of staff. Give them a cup of coffee or a glass of water.
Try to make the interview as conversational as possible as this brings the best out of people. Start by asking them about themselves, their hobbies and interests as this often gets people to open up and relax. If the conversation turns off-topic during the interview, go with it – you may learn something about the candidate from this.
What Not To Do
One of the worst things you can do at an interview is make it all about you and not about the candidate. If you do most of the talking, you aren’t going to find out much about them. An ideal ratio is that you should be talking 20% of the time and the candidate should be talking the other 80%.
While certain checks need to be done to establish that a person can accept the job, such as their right to work and their criminal records check (now a DRB check), you can’t ask them about certain things at an interview. These include if English if their first language as there is no legal requirement for this to work in the UK, only that they speak English fluently to operate effectively. Asking questions about disabilities or previous sickness records also cannot be asked. Even asking their age or if they are married should be avoided as it can be seen as being personal and potentially discriminatory.