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On Your Mark, GET SET, Hire!

May 25, 2012

Hiring a new employee can be a stressful time. Where to advertise? How long will this vacancy take to fill? What to look for when sifting through the resume responses? What screening and interviewing techniques will aid in finding ‘the one’? With all of these questions swirling around in the minds of hiring managers, it is easy to see how hiring documentation can be an afterthought. However, a clearly defined process on the front end can actually save time, reduce unnecessary stress and protect against potential liabilities along the way.

The hiring process should begin with the question, “What needs of the company will this position meet?” Those responsible for staffing should evaluate the needs of their organization both now and in the future. Look at the work that is presently being done in that position and then consider the long term responsibilities. Create a job description that is focused on the responsibilities of the job rather than the tasks. For example, a statement such as “responsible for the coordination of financial information for the organization” rather than, “handling the bookkeeping” allows for growth in the position.

Job Description Done – Let the Hiring Process Begin

After a job description has been written, the hiring process can begin. Organizations should look both internally and externally for a candidate. While sourcing for your candidate pool, develop a list of interview questions. Be sure to include behavioral, situational and open ended questions. An employment application should also be completed by all candidates before interviewing begins. This application should include At-Will and Equal Opportunity employment statements, inquiries about previous criminal convictions and eligibility to legally work in the U.S. and an attestation that the information included in the application is true and accurate – falsifying the application would be grounds for dismissal. At the time a candidate completes the employment application, they should also be required to complete and sign an authorization for a background check. This document can be used by a third party in the verification process or could be used internally to solicit previous employers’ feedback. A signed authorization form can make them more comfortable divulging pertinent information concerning the applicant in question. The background check should include verification of information listed on the employment application (education, previous employers, dates of employment, job title, salary, etc…) as well as criminal background checks, credit checks and DMV records if applicable to the position. 

Once a candidate has been selected to fill the vacancy, a verbal offer of employment should be made, followed by an offer of employment letter (hardcopy or electronic). This letter does not need to be very long, but at a minimum should include the proposed job title, starting salary, benefit eligibility (if applicable), employment status (full-time, part-time, exempt, and nonexempt) and start date. Be sure to include space for the candidate to sign and date the letter, signifying their acceptance of the offer. 

What Needs to Happen AFTER the Employee is Hired?

The remainder of new hire documentation occurs AFTER the offer of employment letter has been signed and returned; on an employee’s first day. It is then that an employer will need to have the new hire complete an I-9 employment eligibility verification form and city (if applicable), state and federal tax forms.

Organizations can download many of these forms for FREE. States also require that employers report all new employees to the state directory in compliance with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This law expedites the collection of child support from parents who change jobs frequently and quickly locates non-custodial parents to help in establishing paternity and child support orders. Michigan employers can use the New Hire Reporting form for this purpose or can complete this process online.
In addition to state and federal reporting documents, employers may have specific payroll forms for a new employee to complete. These could include benefit enrollment applications and beneficiary designations, direct deposit authorizations, and payroll input forms that outline the employee’s job title, wage, withholding information, etc.

The remaining documents that can be used as part of the new hire orientation process are discretionary and will vary by company. Human Resource Management Services (HRMS) recommends that employers include information that will help the new employee acclimate quickly to their surroundings. For that reason, it is helpful to provide the employee with a copy of their orientation schedule, job description and the organizational chart. Employers are encouraged to have certain policies and procedures outlined in an employee handbook and to spend some time reviewing specific sections of that handbook with the new hire. Handbooks should include an acknowledgement page that new hires sign and return signifying their receipt of the handbook and comprehension of the policies contained therein.

Employers may decide to single out specific policies and train new hires on those content areas to ensure comprehension and compliance. It is not a bad idea to include acknowledgement signatures at the bottom of these policies. Examples may include:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Non-Compete and/or Conflict of Interest agreements
  • HIPAA policy
  • Attendance policy
  • Harassment/Sexual Harassment policy

With proper planning and documentation, hiring a new employee can become a smooth process; one that focuses on finding the right fit rather than filling out the right form. Of course, it never hurts to develop a new hire documentation checklist to keep it all straight!

Jodi Schafer is an independent HR consultant. She can be reached at:

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