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MANAGING BEI*I'EK A Series on Organisational and Management Issues for the Community and Voluntary Sector

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The Staff Recruitment Process

Combat Poverty Agency. Bridgewater Centre. Conyngham Road. Island bridge. Dublin 8. Tel: 01 6706746

Fax: 01 6706760

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The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process

As part of its role as a national community development centre, the Combat Poverty Agency provides information, advice, training and resource materials for the community and voluntary sector.


The Managing Better series is the latest in a series of publications aimed at providing good quality information and practical assistance to those working in the community and voluntary sector.

I Preparing for recruitment 2 Equal opportunities

3 Developing a recruitment and selection policy

4 Delegating responsibility for the process of recruitment 5 Planning the process of recruitment

6 Job descriptions

7 Person specifications 8 Applications forms

9 Job advertisements

10 Information to applicants.

© Combat Poverty Agency 1996

ISBN I X71643~7()

While ('\'IT effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, no leg-al responsibility is accepted by the author or the Combat Poverty Agency for any errors or o;nissions. '

Design and Production: Language

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The Staff Recruitment Process

Recruitment of staff is a very important part of the work of community and voluntary organisations. It is the responsibility of management to recruit and select the best candidate for the position. The staff are one of the key resources in a community group and having the right staff is vital to achieving your aims and objectives. Selecting the right person for the job is not easy to do. It is essential to put time, care, planning and preparation into the recruitment process. Fair and effective recruitment procedures help:

• build an effective staff team

• reduce staff turnover

• promote high standards and trust

• achieve the aims of the organisation.

Recruitment is the process of seeking applicants for a job vacancy. Selection is the process of choosing the successful applicant. This pamphlet will outline what is involved in the process of recruitment under the following headings.


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The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process


Recruitment is the first step in the long-term commitment of management to the employee. It is vital to take time to discuss ~e f~lIm~ing four questions fully before starting any of the practical Jobs Involved in recruitment:

why are we taking on an employee/s? what are the costs involved?

what will the other implications be? what kind of employer do we aim to be?

Management must be well organised to be able to carry out its legal and financial duties as an employer and to offer a reasonable level of supervision and support to its employees. Management also needs to consider how it will relate to the employee and vice versa, e.g. systems of communication, support and supervision. For example:

will there be a stafIliaison officer / sub-group?

what will the role of the officer or sub-group be?

who will be on it and what training do they need? who will provide supervision and support to each staff member and how will it be provided?

~n considering these issues management should consult with others m the organisation, e.g. staff, volunteers, participants, to ensure that they are aware of their views, ideas and recommendations.

Management also needs to consider how having a new member of staff may change relationships within the organisation, e.g. volunteers may feel resentment, or that there is no longer a role for them. Management can help lessen the difficulties of the transition to having a new worker if possible problems have been discussed beforehand with everyone involved.

Why are we taking on an employee/s? Whether this is management'~ ~rst time to take on staff, or you are adding to present staff, It IS essential to be clear about why you are taking on an employee,. an~ how the employee will help achieve the aims of the orgarusanon. It is advisable to review the development of the organisation, to see where it is now, what are the plans for at least the next five years and to specify how staff will help implement these plans.

What kind of employer do we aim to be? Management also needs to discuss what kind of employer it aims to be, e.g. just, fair, approachable, trusting, respectful, responsible, open to feedback, promoting equal opportunities. Your values and approach as an employer should be in keeping with the values of your organisation. Management then should clarity how to put your aspirations into effect. The answer to the question "What kind of employer do we aim to be?" should inform your employment practice. Experienced employers should take this opportunity to evaluate what kind of employer it has been and to decide what is needed to improve in the future.

What will the cost be? Management needs to make a realistic assessment of the cost of taking on an employee, including salary and ~~I and also the costs of setting up and running an office, administration, insurance, pension, training, external support, travel, and expenses. The recruitment and selection ~rocess is als.o ~ostly (up to and over £1,000, including advertismg and admll1lstration) and should be budgeted for in advance.

What will the implications be? Management needs to think ahead a,hout th.e i~plications for the project of taking on an emplo~c~. The ImplIcations include the following:

• additional administration

• legal responsibilities

• changes ~o the project's way of working

• changes m relationships

• necessity to provide supervision and support to staff.

Staff in communitv groups face many problems including isolanon, heavy responsihilities, lack of promotion pr()spt'ct~, anti~ocial hours. Mall<tgullcnl lJ('t'cis to be aware of these potential problems and plan how to OH'ITOIllt' or h-ssen them.


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The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process


Under the Employment Equality Act 1977, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or a prospective employee regarding access to employment on grounds of sex or marital status. Both direct and indirect discrimination are prohibited.

ing up the job description, person specification and job advertisement always check - "are we including any unnecessary requirements?"

Advertising: Job advertisements cannot define or describe a position on the basis of gender, and if the job was previously carried out by one sex, it must be made clear that the job is now open to both. The advertisement can clearly indicate that the organisation is an equal opportunities employer.

Direct Discrimination: This occurs if an employee treats a person less favourably for employment opportunities because of their sex or marital status.

Indirect Discrimination: This occurs where a practice or policy which is not essential for the job has a disproportionate impact beca_use of gender or marital status. For example, excluding applicants because of child care responsibilities is a form ofindirect discrimination.

Application Forms: Only essential information which is relevant to the job should be requested in application forms.

Interviewing: In the interview the panel must not ask discriminatory questions or make discriminatory comments on the basis of sex or marital status. Interviewers should have training in equal opportunities selection, which would include examining the requirements of the legislation and exploring prejudice and unconscious biases.

Extension of the Employment Equality Act: At present the Employment Equality Act only covers discrimination on the bas~s of sex and or/marital status but this is likely to be extended ~n the near future with new legislation to prevent discriminatIon. on. t.he basis of parental status, sexual orientation, religion, ~e, ~lSabtltty, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ~nc_ludl1lgmembership of the Travelling community. In the meantime, ~t IS good employment practice to ensure through policy, trainmg and procedures that the organisation's recruitment and selection is not discriminatory towards any of the groups listed above.


The next step is to develop a recruitment and selection policy. A recruitment and selection policy formally defines how the organisation recruits and selects. The purpose of the written policy is:

• to promote clarity about recruitment and selection throughout the organisation;

• to provide guidelines for the people who actually carry out the process; and

• to ensure a consistent and fair approach.

As an equal opportunities employer people should only be selected on the basis of their ability to do the work, and no one sho.uld be denied a job for reasons that have nothing to do with their competence or capacity.

The recruitment and selection policy should be written in accordance with equal opportunities guidelines. It is good practice to list a wide range of possible discrimination in the policy.

Job Requirements: In drawing up the requirements for the job the employer should include only those which are essential. For e~a~ple. speci~~g an age limit for the job may be indirect disc,:mmatlOn. ~Isung unnecessary job requirements may prevent SUItable candidates from applying. When management are draw-

A sample recruitment and selection policy which organisations can adapt to fit their own situation, is set out below.


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The Staff Recruitment Process

Sample Recruitment and Selection Policy

1. Management is committed to ensuring that the procedures and practices used in the recruitment and selection of staff are fair, consistent and effective.

2. Management is committed to ensuring that the recruitment and selection policy and procedures of this organisation are in keeping with our equal opportunities policy.

3. Recruitment of staff will be made from the widest possible field.

Positions will be advertised internally and externally, including the national newspapers.

4. The applications of present staff will be treated on an equal basis with external applications; or

Preference will be given to internal candidates over external can-

didates if their suitability is equal. .

5. Individuals must be selected for employment on the basis of merit. job applicants must not be treated less favourably on the grounds of sex (gender), marital status, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, or put at a disadvantage by unjustifiable conditions or requirements.

6. All advertisements for posts and all information sent out to applicants for posts should state clearly that the organisation is an equal opportunities employer.

7. job sharing will be considered favourably by management.

8. A person specification must be drawn up for each post to be filled, describing the experience, skills and other attributes required to carry out the job satisfactorily.

9. Both sexes must be included on interview panels.

10. Interview panels will be given guidelines on good interview practice and on the prevention of discrimination.

11. For each vacancy advertised a file must be kept for twelve months from the date of appointment of the following:

- job Description

- Person Specification

- job Advertisement

- All Application Forms

- Written Record of Candidate Assessments

- Any Correspondence with Candidates.

12. Any candidate who feels that they have been discriminated against has a right of complaint. which can be exercised by writing to management. If their complaint is upheld they will. if possible. be offered an appropriate remedy, e.g. they may be shortlisted for, or offered, the post in question or a suitable alternative post.


The Staff Recruitment Process


When management has clarified what kind of employer it aims to be, prepared adequately for the implications of taking on an employee, and drawn up its recruitment and selection policy, they usually delegate responsibility for the recruitment and selection process to a sub-group. This group will be responsible for the process from beginning to end, i.e. from drawing up the job description to bringing back a recommendation for selection to management from the interviews. In smaller organisations it is usually agreed that management approves the job description, person specification and advertisement when they are prepared. It is advisable to include a member of staff in the sub-group and it is often helpful to have someone from outside the organisation involved in the selection.

It is important that the members of the sub-group are clear about their role and feel confident about taking it on, or at least that they know they will get advice and support and training when they need it. It is advisable to have at least one person in the sub-group who has experience of recruitment. Everyone in the sub-group should:

be familiar with the aims and policies of the organisation; be familiar with equal opportunities kgislatiol1. policy and implementation;

be familiar with general employment legislation; and be aware of the amount of work that will be involved.



The work of the sub-group includes the following:

I. Preparing a job description;

2. Preparing a pnson specification; :\. Preparing an application form:

4. Preparing and placing the ad\'{'nisl'mt'llI: rl. Handling gennal enquiries;

6. Handling specific enquiries; .'

7. Having sufficient copies of application forms, Job desc~ptions, person specifications. information about the project and covering letter available;

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Time Scale and Administration: The sub-group need to work out a time scale for the process, putting dates on each step and leaving adequate time. The process of filling a vacancy usually takes much longer than people expect, at least ten weeks. You need to check as you go along that you are keeping to the time scale as planned. As you can see there is a lot of administration involved in the recruitment process. This should be planned for and it may be necessary to name one person who will be specifically responsible for these tasks. The group should discuss the work involved in all the stages so that plans can be made in advance.


6. Ajob description is a summary of the tasks and responsibilities which make up the job. It is a description of the job and not the person doing it. It ensures that both management and the successful candidate are clear about what the job involves. It should include:

The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process

8. Sending these out as necessary;

9. Maintaining the confidentiality of job applications, letters and CVs; and

10. Coordinating the hand-over to the group responsible for selection, if this is different to the recruitment sub-group.

Job Title: The job title should accurately reflect the work, the level of responsibility and the approach required. For example each group should consider which of the following is most appropriate for each job:

Project Coordinator/Project Leader/Director/Project Manager

Project Worker/Community Worker/Project Officer/ Development Worker

Administrator /Receptionist/ Secretary

Overall Purpose of Job: This is a short statement of the overall purpose.

Key Areas of Work: These should be set out in order of importance.

Who s/he will be Responsible to: This is a statement of who will supervise the worker, who s/he will report to and which committees will have an influence on his/her position. For example if s/he is the most senior or only member of staff s/he will be accountable to the management committee through a staff subcommittee or the chairperson.

• Name of employer

• Address of employer

• Job title

• Overall purpose of job

• Key areas of work

• Who s/he will be responsible to

• Who s/he will be responsible for

• Key terms and conditions of employment

Who s/he will be Responsible for. This states if the worker is responsible for supervising the work of other staff, volunteers or committees.

* Remember that the job description forms part of the employee's conditions of employment, and once accepted cannot he changed without agreement. Generally the job description is reviewed I!y both management and employee as part of the performance appraisal process.

Key Terms and Conditions of Employment. This includes the following important information: hours of work, whether weekend or evening work is required, time in lieu salary and salary scale method and frequency of pay

holidays , .• ,,;~

nature of job (permanent or short-term contract), full-time or part-time

whether the job is open to job-share pension scheme

place of work

name of any recognised union whether there is travel involved

any other issues, e.g. travel Coogle

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The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process

As you can see, drawing up the job description requires the management committee to be very clear about the role of the new worker and also allows the successful candidate to make an informed decision as to whether this is the right job for him/her. In the long run, this saves time and energy and prevents conflicts and misunderstandings.

organisation is looking for and that there are consistent requirements against which all applicants are assessed.

A person specification should systematically list requirements under a number of headings. All requirements should be listed as essential or desirable. Essential means that any candidate lacking this attribute must be rejected. Desirable means an additional asset which can be used in distinguishing between suitable candidates.

Checklist for the Job Description:

1. Does the job description accurately reflect the tasks and

responsibilities of the job?

2. Is it clear and concise?

3. Is it free of jargon?

4. Is it free of all sex stereotypes?

The person specification is a list of criteria by which people will be judged so it is very important that the criteria are as specific, concrete and measurable as possible. This helps prevent selection on the basis of bias or discrimination.

Job Assessment: When management is recruiting for an existing post it is advisable to take this opportunity to reassess the job. As a result it may be necessary to change the job description slightly or to draw up a new one entirely. It is important to consult with members of staff to find out clearly

(a) what is the job to be done and

(b) how should it be done.

A Person Specification usually includes:

1.Job TItle

2. Education and Training

Other important questions include:

• how does the job contribute to the achievement of the overall aims of the organisation?

• given recent changes and developments in the organisation, what are the tasks and responsibilities of the job now?

• are there any other aspects of the job description that should be changed, e.g. reporting relationship, salary?

• if there are changes to the job description, does the previous job title still fit the job?

For each of these areas it is important to clarify what qualifications and training are essential in order to do the job and what would be desirable, ie. an additional asset? Onlv include criteria which genuinely affect job performance and d~ not set unjustifiablv high standards. For example it is advisable not to set qualifications as an essential requirement which mav in fact be unnecessary for the particular job.


The person specification lists the skills, expcrie-nre. qualifications and other attributes needed to fulfill the role outlined in the job description. It describes the kind of pnson who would be suitable for the job. It tells you what vou need to look for in candidates. It ensures that the people who are responsible for shortlisting candidates are clear and agreed about what the


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The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process


An application form which is specifically prepared for a vacancy is a good way of ensuring that you get essential information from all the candidates. The purpose of an application form is to provide more information about each candidate, which is obtained from each person in the same way. A letter and a C.V. may not provide all the information you need. The application form helps you screen out people fairly at the initial selection stage. Every candidate is on an equal footing, as they are all providing the information you want and no more. The information is organised in the same format for all applicants and is therefore easier to compare. It also gives pointers for interview questions. It also lets you know how people heard about the job.

Make sure you allow sufficient space for answers and an equal amount of space for each question of equal importance.

The deadline for the return of applications should allow enough time for prospective candidates to see the advertisement and obtain, complete and return an application form. A minimum of two weeks should be given and it is usually three or four weeks.


Where to Advertise? You are aiming to reach people who will be suitable for the job so you need to consider what is the best way to reach them. A job can be advertised through any of the following:

1. Internally in your organisation

2. National newspapers or magazines

3. Employment agencies, FAs, NRB, private agencies

4. Schools, colleges, training centres

5. Local newspapers, magazines or newsletters

6 Magazines or newsletters for specific groups, e.g. women,

Travellers, lesbians and gay men, people with a disability

7. National radio

8. Local radio

9. Local notice boards: shops, schools, clubs, community centre 10. Local job centres

II. Other community groups

The application form should give basic details and be tailormade for the job. Use the job description and person specification as guidelines for questions to ask on the form. It should include the candidate's:

• name

• address

• telephone number at home and work

• present employment including latest salary

• previous employment

• education and qualifications

• other relevant experience, e.g. voluntary work

• names, addresses and telephone numbers of two referees, one of whom is the applicant's present or most recent employer

• question as to whether the current employer may be contacted and

• whether the applicant wishes to be informed before referees are contacted

• period of notice required

• a statement in support of his/her application and/or why the applicant wants the job

• a page for employment history and general statement.

The w~ys you choose will depend on the kind of position to be ~lled, It's duration, the resources of the group and the current Job market.

I~ter~al Advertise~ents: All positions should be advertised inter~all~ In y~l~r organtsation as well as externally. This can provide pp )rtUntttes for the development and promotion of existin em~loyees, and ensures that trained and valuable ernpl g retamed . ". oyees are in your organtsatton. It IS motivating and affirming £

staff to know th thor

.' . a t ese opportunities are open to them. There

:~./~~~rent VIews about whether the applications of current

wr be treated on an equal b~7g~i~e~~~nCtrb'gle


Other questions appropriate to particular jobs include, e.g. what is your current typing speed, do you hold a current driving licence.


The Staff Recruitment Process

The Staff Recruitment Process

or whether advancement of present staff should get preference if there is equal suitability. Each organisation needs to clarify their own policy on this issue before such a situation arises.


Before placing the adverriscment z's identify and prq),lIl' t lu: information YOll will send to those who respond. This usu.rllv includes:

• job description

• application form

• information about the organisation and its activities

• annual reports, newsletters, historv of the or~anisation

• closing date for application

• date when shortlisted candidates will he interviewed

• details of the main terms and conditions of ernplovment (if not already included in the job description)

National Advertisements: It is recommended that most positions are advertised nationally. This is costly but it does ensure that you reach the greatest number of possible candidates. In limited circumstances there may be exceptions to this policy. For example in the case of temporary short-term contracts, management may decide to limit the advertising of the position to within the local community, FAs, and other community groups. National newspapers advertise jobs of a particular type on designated days so check this out before placing you advert. The cost and benefit of any advertising should be assessed before a decision is made on where to place the advert.

Prospective applicants are likely to be influenced bv the quality. attractiveness and range of information provided. Make SlIl'C to respond promptly to requests for information or application forms. It is also useful to keep a record of the number of forms ~:nt out and the number returned. It is important to have clarified who will deal with general and/ or specific enquiries about the job.

Drawing up the Advertisement: The advertisement should be concise and clear and give the following information:

The name and purpose of the organisation The job title

A hrief description of the job

The experience and qualifications which are essential and

those which are desirable The salary and salary scale

Whether the job is full or part-time, permanent or temporary, open to job share

How to get further information

How to apply, e.g. by sending a C.v. and letter or an application form

• The closing date for applications

A statement that you are an equal opportunities employer.

Completion of Recruitment: When you have worked through all the .s~ages above you will have a number of applications for the posiuon. The next stage is selection which is detailed in another booklet in this series.

Eval~tion: It is advisable to evaluate the process of recruitment each time ~()u compl.ele it and decide how it could be improved the n~xt time. In this way vou will ensure that vou have a tail

effective recruitment procedure in place. '


1. ~ecr~~itm(_~nt is a ver~' important investment in the long-tLTIl1 utui c of your {)r~alHsation.

2. I k

t ta es considerable time and resources and should b > " _,

fully planned. ( (.U t -

3. hi is important to provide training and support for

p e who are responsible for recruitment. the peo-

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When designing the advertisement keep in mind that you are aiming to catch the attention of suitable people and to hold their interest. Use an eye-catching format, perhaps including your logo. I t is advisable to look at other samples. Draw up a few different advertisements to see which is must suitable and attractive. Show it to someone from outside your organisation for comments. It should be well-designed, checked and rechecked.


The Staff Recruitment Process

Useful Contacts

Department of Equality and Law Reform Dun Aimhirgin, 43-49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-6670344 Fax: 01-6670366/7

Department of Enterprise and Employment

Information Unit, Davitt House, 65A Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-6765861 Fax: 01-6769047

Employment Equality Agency

36 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-6605966 Fax: 01-6605813

The EEA provides a free, confidential advisory service on the operation of the employment equality legislation. There are also a number of EEA leaflets and publications about different aspects of equality in the workplace which are very useful.


Nerney's Court, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01-8745588 Fax: 01-8728715


Liberty Hall, Dublin l.

Tel: 01-8749731 Fax: 01-8749368


Head Office, 19 Raglan Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-6680641 Fax: 01-6609027

NRB (National Rehabilitation Board)

24/25 Clyde Road, Dublin 4.

Tel: 01-6684181 Fax: 01-6609935

Clarke J., What About Management? Key Elements of Community Proj«!

Managemmt, Combat Poverty Agency, 1990 . c

Clarke j., A Guide to Good EmlJlaymmt Practice in the CommullIty 0' Voluntary Sector, Combat Poverty Agency, 1995

There i.1 an accompanying leaflet "Selection" which outlines what is involt1fd in the process of selection, shortlisting, interoieunng and follow-up. All as/J'cts of recruitment should be in accordance with your group's equal opportunities polio cy. For further information see the separate leaflet, "Equal opportunities" whICh explains an equal opportunities policy and how to implement it.


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