HR · 16 July 2015

Preparing to take on your first employee – Getting the foundations right

Finding your first employee can be tricky – but it’s crucial to invest some time into recruitment

Before starting a recruitment process it is important to be aware that there are many laws that must be considered. In addition, it is vital that you remain objective at every stage in the process, ensuring that personal opinions, attitudes and prejudices do not influence your choice in any way.

So, what does the law say?

Employment legislation is complex and a more detailed starting point can be found here. Some of the things to beware of in regards to recruitment are:

  • No one must be discriminated against on the grounds of age, sex, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or trade union membership
  • To advertise for a “keen young trainee” would be age discrimination. Similarly, “man required for heavy lifting duties” would be sex discrimination. “Only Japanese nationals need apply” would be race discrimination”. There are however some very limited situations where the characteristic you require is relevant to the post, such as female security officers required to carry out searches on women
  • Salaries must be at or above the minimum wage level
  • Job roles must be designed around the legal requirements for breaks and hours off duty that are necessary between shifts

Once you are familiar with the many laws surrounding employment, you then need to define the requirements of your role.

This includes:

  • Deciding on the terms and conditions
  • Producing a list of the duties and responsibilities of the position
  • Defining the qualifications, experience, special circumstances and competencies required of the job holder

Terms and Conditions:


What salary are you offering? It must be at or above the level of the national minimum wage.

Ensure it is competitive with similar job roles in your area; do research from job boards, newspapers and word of mouth.


Do you want to consider any benefits such as:

  • Health care, dental and vision
  • Enhanced pension provisions
  • Holidays over and above the legal requirements
  • Family friendly areas offering over and above the legal requirements
  • Bonuses
  • Recognition of behaviours and effort
  • Development and career opportunities
  • Free drinks or meals on duty
  • Additional day off on their birthday
  • Discounts
  • Qualifications and experience to be gained
  • Social events

What are the duties and responsibilities of the position?

Define exactly what you want the person to do and what they will be responsible for. If it is a new role, carefully think through what the requirements of the job role are. This information forms the basis of the job description, which should be shared with applicants so they know exactly what is expected of them and what they will be held accountable for. This may change slightly once the person actually starts work, but will provide a good starting point. In the future, if you’re looking again and there’s someone already in the job role, a great starting point is to get him or her to produce a list that you can either add to or subtract from.

What qualifications, experience, special circumstances and competencies are needed by the person carrying out the role?

It is fine if the answer to any of the above areas is “none”, but if any previous experience, qualifications or special circumstances are required for the job, be sure to state them so that you can discount applicants who do not have them.

Competencies are used by many companies to define what behaviours and skills people require for a specific role, and each job role will have specific competencies attributable to it. It is highly desirable to define the competencies required for a role because they can be used for such things as developing interview questions for the recruitment process and appraising performance further down the line. Competency areas could include: customer service, attention to detail, commercial awareness, teamwork, communication, problem solving, etc. Consider the areas that are really important to your organisation and then work out the requirements of each job role in terms of competencies.

Following the above framework will ensure a sound basis for recruitment in terms of complying with all the legalities, creating a well-defined, valuable role, and determining the appropriate salary and benefits to be offered.

Image: Shutterstock

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Margaret Keane is the managing director of Outsourcing HR, an HR consultancy that helps businesses succeed by providing practical, cost-effective human resources management and recruitment services. In addition to being an experienced HR professional, Margaret has a successful track record in general management roles. As a result, Margaret is focused on ensuring that HR contributes to the bottom line.