This assignment will be investigating what constitutes “best practice” in recruitment and selection, and explain what strategies should be used to ensure the best qualified and most effective employees are selected. In particular this essay will focus on; The use of job descriptions, personal specifications and competence frameworks. Analysing the main recruitment and selection methods.
Explaining the main legislation that impacts on recruitment and selection. Describing how contracts of employment are established. At its core, recruitment and selection is about attracting and employing the most qualified and capable individual that will add value to the organisation. Marchington and Wilkinson (2008, 223) explain the importance of recruitment, “Staffing and resourcing, and in particular recruitment and selection, is a critical feature of HRM in all organisations, irrespective of their size, structure or sector.”
Once an organisation has identified that a vacancy has arisen, it is best practice is to complete “job analysis” to identify the key duties and responsibilities of the role. This is used to create an up to date “job description” and “personal specification” for the new job role. It is important that these documents are reviewed, as the existing versions may not include key duties and skills that the role as evolved to demand. In some cases the job description and personal specification will not have been reviewed since the previous employee was appointed. Well written job descriptions should identify the duties and responsibilities candidates should expect to undertake if successful.
They should also include a job title, location of post and reporting structure. Personal specifications should identify the key attributes required, such as qualifications, experience and attitude. They also often include any additional requirements such as a driving licence / requirement to travel etc. These attributes are often split into “essential” and “desirable” areas. Once these have been finalised they can then be used to advertise and recruit a new employee, either by advertising directly (company intranet / website, local press etc) or used to give an employment agency / recruitment consultant a basis from which to work. These documents may also inform questions asked at interview.
Leatherbarrow and Fletcher (2014, 76) discuss the varied use of job descriptions, “In addition to their use in recruitment, job descriptions have a key role in other activities, such as identifying training needs, and introducing or reviewing a job evaluation scheme and other systems of payment.”
However, not all HR experts agree on the usefulness of job descriptions, as demonstrated by Marchington and Wilkinson (2008, 236), “Despite being widely used, job descriptions have been heavily criticised for being outmoded and increasingly irrelevant to modern conditions, symptomatic of what is seen as a collectivist, inflexible and more rules-orientated culture.” If an organisation chooses not to use a personal profile, they may instead use a “competency framework”.
These often have a greater emphasis on the skills an individual has, such as communication skills, people management, customer service, problem solving etc, rather than the previous experience or qualifications. Leatherbarrow and Fletcher (2014, 179) explain competency frameworks, “Similar to personal specifications, competency frameworks outline a list of characteristics which are required by the post holder. These may be organisation-wide competencies…””… or specific to the job such as attention to detail or numeracy perhaps for an accountant.”
When recruiting for a vacancy there are various methods that can be used, depending on if the vacancy is to be advertised internally (to existing employees) or externally (to the general public). Sourcing candidates internally can ensure talented employees stay within the organisation; however it often does not negate the need to recruit externally, as another vacancy will invariably arise in the department the successful candidate originated from. Internal recruitment can be done relatively cheaply and quickly; the vacancy can be advertised through staff notice boards, company intranet or company-wide emails. If internal recruitment is not an option / has been unsuccessful, companies will the need to advertise to a wider audience. An employer will need to decide which method of recruitment is most suitable for the role and organisation. Common recruitment methods include advertising on the company’s own corporate website, using internet based jobsites, recruitment agencies, local or national press, job centre plus or employee referral schemes. The CIPD resourcing and talent planning survey (2013) lists the top 5 methods of recruitment as,
“1) Own corporate website 62%
2) Recruitment agencies 49%
3) Commercial job boards 38%
4) Employee referral schemes 33%
5) Professional networking (such as linkedin) 31%”
The method used will depend on a number of factors, as Armstrong (2012, 22) discusses, “The criteria to use when making a choice are: 1) the likelihood that it will produce good candidates 2) the speed with which the choice enables recruitment to be completed 3) the costs involved, bearing in mind that there may be direct advertising costs or consultants’ fees.”
Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the job role / target audience, location of post and success of previous methods, for example, if the vacancy is for a highly experienced and qualified professional, the labour market is likely to be much tighter that if the vacancy is for an entry level administrator. Therefore it makes sense to advertise to a national market to generate a higher number of suitable applications. Upon placing the job advertisement, an employer also needs to decide on the initial selection method that will be used to enable them to create a shortlist. This could include requesting a CV and / or cover letter, application forms, online applications or email or telephone enquiries.
Once the recruitment process has been completed and the applications have been received, shortlisting and selection can then begin. Applications should be shortlisted according to the same criteria, which should be relevant and non-discriminatory. Personal specifications can also be used at this stage, and applications assessed to see if they meet the “essential” and “desirable” criteria described. Applications can then be sorted into three areas, as described by Armstrong (2012, 227), “Following the analysis, applicants can be sorted initially into three categories: possible, marginal and unsuitable… When there is a large field of applicants with many ‘possibles’ sifting may have to be repeated against more stringent criteria until a shortlist for interview is identified.” Once a shortlist has been agreed, best practice is to notify the unsuccessful applicants by letter or email, as agreed by Leatherbarrow & Fletcher (2014, 192), “A courteously worded letter or email should then be sent to the rejected applicants…”
At this stage the employer also needs to decide which further methods of selection they will use on the remaining applicants. The most common method of selection is known as the “classic trio”, of application form, interview and references. However, although the most common, this does not make it the most effective; this method is often highly criticised by experts. Other selection methods include group interviews, assessment centres, competency tests, work trials, psychometric testing and work samples.
The most effective selection processes involve more than one method of selection, such as a structured interview alongside a work sample test. Marchington and Wilkinson (2008, 250) citing data from Robertson and Smith (2001) discuss selection techniques, “…most techniques have very low levels of accuracy in terms of producing effecting selection decisions. Of techniques used on their own, work sampling offers the highest likelihood of success, closely followed by intelligence tests and structured interviewing.”
During the recruitment and selection process, organisations must be mindful that they are complying with all laws that impact the process. One of the major laws that effects the recruitment and selection of staff is the Equality Act 2010. This legislation simplifies and strengthens previously existing legislation. “The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.” Government Equalities Office (2013).
The Equality Act 2010 covers 9 “protected characteristics”, as follows; Age
Religion / Beliefs
Maternity / Paternity
Gender reassignment / Transgender
These characteristics are protected against the 6 types of discrimination, which are direct, indirect, discrimination by association, victimisation, harassment and perceptive discrimination.
Other legislation that impacts the recruitment process include the Working Time Regulations 1998, National Minimum Wage, the Data Protection Act 2007 and the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004. In addition to civil action, should an employer found to be in breach of the Asylum and Immigration act they can face criminal action, with penalties including large fines and possible prison sentences. Therefore it is vital that all candidates / employees are able to provide proof of their right to work in the UK.
Upon completion of the recruitment and selection process, and the successful candidate has accepted, a contract of employment has been established. ACAS (2014) describes contracts of employment, “A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee and is the basis of the employment relationship”.
A contract of employment sets out the rights and duties of the employee, and does not necessarily need to be in writing, although it is best practice to be in writing, signed and dated. The contract of employment provides protection for both employer and employee, and provides clarity to the working relationship. The contract of employment is considered to have commenced from the date the employee has verbally accepted the role. If the employee declines to sign the written contract, but starts / continues to work, legally it is considered that the employee has accepted the terms and conditions set out in the contract of employment.
The contract of employment differs to the written statement of particulars as the contract of employment is more expansive, and generally encompasses the information required within the statement of particulars. It is a legal requirement that most employees receive a written statement of particulars within two months of commencing employment. Contracts of employment generally include the following information. Identity of parties, i.e. employer / employee
Employment start date
Salary / hourly rate, and the intervals at which the employee will be paid
Hours of work and any terms and conditions related to this
Holiday allowance and pay
Sickness allowance and terms and conditions
Terms and conditions relating to pensions
Information on contracting-out
Employment type, i.e. temporary, fixed term, part time etc.
If fixed term, the expected end date of contract. Location of work, and any expectancy for travel
Any collective agreements in place
Length of probationary period
Any other terms and conditions that are applicable to the employee and job role
Often disciplinary procedures in in employment contracts, however it is best to omit this information and have it as a separate policy. If an employer chooses to include the disciplinary procedures within the contract but does not follow them, the employer can then be sued for breach of contract. Employees and employers are also expected to adhere to the implied terms of contract. These are not written down but should naturally happen, such as the employer providing a safe workplace and paying the employee promptly etc. Lewis and Sargeant (2013) explain the use of implied terms in the event of a disagreement, “The party wishing to rely on an implied term must satisfy a court either that such a term was so obvious that the parties did not think it necessary to state it expressly (the officious bystander test) or that such a term was necessary to give ‘business efficacy’ to the relationship.”
The recruitment and selection process can be considered one of the most important aspects of a HR professionals’ job. Recruitment can be costly, and staffing costs are one of an organisations biggest expenditure. An effective and thorough recruitment and selection process should limit the impact on the organisation and ensure a high calibre of candidates and employees. Following all applicable laws, and setting out a clear and concise contract of employment provides protection for both parties, and provides the foundation for a harmonious working relationship, in which booth employer and employee are aware of their rights, duties and obligations.
M. Marchington & A. Wilkinson, 2008, Human Resource Management at Work 4th Edition, London, CIPD
M. Armstrong, 2012, Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice 12th Edition, London, Kogan Page
C. Leatherbarrow & J. Fletcher, 2014, Introduction to Human Resource Management, guide to HR in practice, 3rd edition, London, CIPD
Government Equalities Office, updated February 2013, accessed 04/12/2014, https://www.gov.uk/equality-act-2010-guidance
http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/survey-reports/resourcing-talent-planning-2013.aspx ACAS, 06/12/2014, http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1577 D. Lewis & M. Sargeant, 2013, Employment Law the essentials, 12th Edition, London, CIPD
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