Tips on successful recruiting for small businesses

For many businesses, the improved economic outlook means that this is the perfect time to look for new talent. A fresh, keen and driven employee can help to expand your business, motivate other staff and help you realise your goals for 2013 and beyond.

Sage People Advice experts discuss what factors to take into consideration when taking on new employees, whether this is your first employee or the latest of many.

Advertising the job

The first thing to consider is how you advertise the role. Make sure you target the right media: will you use local papers, the internet, social media, industry magazines or a mixture?

RecruitmentYour wording is really important too. Be clear about exactly the type of candidate you’re looking for, the skills and qualifications they need and the work they will be doing. Most important of all, don’t discriminate on the grounds of gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity or gender reassignment.

This includes using words like “young”, “mature”, “salesman”, “manageress” and so on. Using these could potentially lead to a costly and time-consuming tribunal claim, so think carefully!

Interview time

It’s important to consider discrimination legislation when it comes to arranging interviews. Once you have decided who to invite to an interview, make sure that people of all abilities can physically get there, thinking about access to your building, for instance.

The interview questions should be prepared in advance, focusing on the specific job role. Again, avoid any questions that could be considered discriminatory.

Asking about age, marriage, plans to have children, childcare and so on are all extremely risky, so steer well clear!

Putting checks in place

If you’re happy to take on a candidate after a successful interview, it’s essential that you check them thoroughly first. Get their permission, and then contact their nominated referees for references. One should be from their most recent employer, where possible.

Next, make sure that the candidate has the right to work in the UK. Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, it’s an offence to employ someone who does not have permission to live and work in the UK. It’s crucial to establish a statutory excuse against liability for negligently employing illegal workers by checking and copying certain original documents belonging to prospective employees before they begin employment.


Once you’ve found the right person, you should confirm the agreement officially with a written statement of their principal terms and conditions within the first two months of their employment. This may be in the form of a written contract of employment, provided all of the required particulars are included in the contract.

There’s a fair bit to remember, but it’s well worth getting it right to ensure your new employees are looked after and ultimately support the success of your business.

For more support on any aspect of employee recruitment, log in to your Sage HR Advice service for expert guidance.

Sage People Advice experts