You’ve come a long way, baby! Remember those restless nights dreaming about starting your own business? Wondering if you could make a go of it? Feeling the fear but doing it anyway? And here you are on the verge of taking on staff. Let’s take a minute to recognise what an amazing achievement that is.

Now we’ve all acknowledged what a total boss you’re becoming, it’s time to talk tactics. How do you actually recruit staff, then get them into your business and up-to-speed? Recruitment doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these eight simple steps to recruit the ideal new staff for your startup.

1. How to write a job description

Firstly, you need to identify:

  • the type of staff you need
  • how long you need them for
  • what duties they’ll perform
  • what skills they need

This will help you write a job description and person specification. The Internet is a great source of information to help you create a strong job description. Search websites like Indeed for adverts for jobs similar to yours and see what they have included.

 2. How to advertise a job vacancy

Once you have your job description sorted, you need to advertise the opportunity and tell people how to apply.

Will you provide an application form or ask for CVs? Do people need to apply via post or email? Will you accept applications up to a certain date or assess them as they come in until you appoint?

There are lots of advertising options so work out where your ideal audience will be searching, as well as what you can afford.

Option Pros Cons
Your own website Free of charge, complete control over content Reach is limited to your website visitors
External job advertisers - general Likely to have a larger audience than your website Will charge for advertising
External job advertisers - specialist Good for specialist appointments where certain skills or experience are needed Will charge for advertising
Social media - paid Can reach a large, targeted audience at a fairly low cost You’ll need to pay
Social media – own page Free of charge, can reach your page audience and encourage social shares You need a good page audience to achieve any reach, best alongside other advertising
Local advertising Can be low cost and effective way to reach local candidates for jobs that aren’t too specialist May not reach a wide / specialised audience
Recruitment agencies Handle everything, minimise your admin, great for very specialised appointments Can be expensive, vary in quality

3. How to shortlist candidates for interview

When you receive applications, you need to compare them against the person specification and needs of the job, and decide whether there is anyone you want to interview.

You must be fair and equal here. You can’t discriminate against anyone on the basis of protected characteristics. Take a look at the ACAS website for helpful advice on this.

A fair and easy way to assess applications is to create a score sheet based on your person spec. Then score people based on how well the person meets each criteria. You can also keep this information in case a candidate asks for feedback or challenges your decision.

For example, if you’re hiring waiting staff, your checklist might look like this:

Criteria 0 = no skill described
1 = basic skills
2 = adequate skills
3 = excellent skills
Customer service experience 2
Food preparation experience 3
Food hygiene 3
Cash handling 0
Total 8

4. How to interview candidates

It is a good idea to interview candidates, to learn more about them in person. You’ll need to think about:

  • when and where you’ll conduct the interviews
  • what questions to ask them – make sure you have a standard list so you can compare candidates like-for-like
  • whether you want them to give a presentation or do a test to demonstrate their skills

After the interviews, it is good practice to let candidates know the outcome of the interview within a few days and provide feedback if they ask for it. Don’t leave people hanging. We’ve all been there and it doesn’t feel good…

5. How to offer someone a job

You can offer someone the job over the phone, in person, by email. Give them a few days to consider the offer and let them know when you need their answer by.

Anyone classed as an employee has the right to a written document summarising the main terms of their employment (if they’re employed for more than 1 month). This includes information about their pay and working hours.

So when they accept, you’ll need to issue a written statement of employment particulars / contract of employment. Find out more about these on the Gov.uk website.

6. How to meet your legal requirements as a new employer

Woo-hoo, you’re an employer! There is a whole load of admin associated with taking on an employee including items that are critical for legal compliance.

Things like:

  • payroll and pensions
  • insurance
  • minimum wage
  • Health & Safety
  • and more

See our essential HR guide for startups for more information.

7. How to successful on-board a new staff member

On-boarding is the process of getting someone into their job and up to speed. It is a good idea to create an induction plan. This is just a document that outlines what things they need to do in their first week.

  • Things they need to do – set up accounts on relevant software, provide details for payroll
  • Things they need to learn – how to use the photocopier, stock management processes
  • People they need to meet – key suppliers or other staff

You’ll also need to think about how to meet any gaps in their skills. For example, sending them for relevant training or training them yourself.

8. How to manage a staff member

Once your new starter is up to speed, you will need to manage them and their performance long-term. This can be a big mindset shift for people who are used to working for themselves. You’ll need to think about:

  • what you want them to do each week and how you’ll communicate that to them
  • how you’ll set goals for them and monitor their performance
  • the process for dealing with any problems
  • what will happen if they’re off sick for any length of time
  • how you’ll motivate them and maintain team morale

You also need to be aware of on-going legal requirements as an employer. Check out the Employ Someone guide on Gov.uk for information.

Further reading


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