Featured Image: An illustration of smiling employees welcoming a new hire or candidate

How to Hire Employees in 6 Steps

BambooHR's Best Tips for Attracting Top Talent in 2024


The US may have narrowly escaped a recession, but 2023 was still a rollercoaster for many people, with over 200,000 tech layoffs and some of the toughest labor disputes in recent history. Now, shifting workforces and ongoing labor shortages present a host of new hiring and retention challenges for HR in 2024.

If the scramble to attract and retain top talent has reached your company, you're not alone. BambooHR surveyed 1,200 professionals to dig a little deeper into what lies ahead. Here's a brief overview of the pain points influencing HR strategy today:

  • Talent acquisition is the biggest dilemma for HR teams (44% of responders)
  • Labor shortages make it harder to attract qualified people (48%)
  • Onboarding, offboarding, and training are the most common workplace obstacles (63%)
  • Managing employee data is a struggle, making it harder to find impactful solutions (52%)

The good news is a host of recruiting potential is still out there, which is why evolving your hiring process to meet new challenges is so important. In our 2023 Hiring Survey, we found out what most job candidates want to know, what's driving employee turnover, and what influences people to stay long-term—all things you can use to your advantage.

BambooHR® is the complete HR platform that helps you move from recruiting to onboarding seamlessly. Learn the essential steps for hiring new employees in 2024 and how to develop a recruiting strategy that tips the scales in your favor.

First, What Type of Employee Do You Need to Hire?

Before embarking on the hiring process, decide what types of employees to recruit. This depends on the nature of the role, whether it's temporary or permanent, and if the work should be outsourced or handled in-house. Common work classifications include:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Seasonal workers
  • Independent contractors

From here, you can prepare to recruit the right employees for your company's current needs.

Hiring an Employee vs. Independent Contractor

An employee is anyone who performs services for you for pay—if you control what work they do and how it's done. For example, someone may legally be considered your employee if their work must be completed during specific days and times, either onsite or remotely. However, some hired workers don't fall into this category.

An independent contractor is a self-employed person who's hired to provide goods or services to an organization. These professionals work for themselves, not a company, according to IRS classification rules. Freelance writers, graphic designers, and real estate agents commonly work as independent contractors.

Employees are…
Independent contractors are…
Supervised by an employer
Expected to work unsupervised
Covered by federal and state labor laws
Not covered by federal and state labor laws
Paid an hourly wage or annual salary as an exempt or non-exempt worker
Usually paid hourly or per project and often contracted with several employers
Eligible for company benefits
Typically ineligible for company benefits
Subject to tax withholding by their employer
Responsible for paying their own taxes
Hiring an independent contractor follows the same pattern as hiring an employee. The key is to ensure they've filled out the appropriate tax forms and you've classified them correctly in your system. Misclassifying someone as a contractor when they’re really an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) could land you in legal trouble.

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Expert Advice for Attracting the Right Candidates

Many people will apply for the jobs you post online, but how can you attract the best candidates for your organization? Here are some recruitment marketing tools that can help you make the most of the time and resources dedicated to talent acquisition:

Start with a Candidate Persona

A candidate persona is a fictional profile of the perfect employee for any given role. Simply create an internal document that outlines your dream candidates in detail and target your recruiting strategies and employer value propositions (EVPs) around these images. A candidate persona is built around attributes like:

  • Qualifications
  • Career goals
  • Hard and soft skillsets
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Pain points that influence career decisions
  • Interests

BambooHR Tip: Remember, it's still important to keep an open mind. This outline is used to focus your recruiting efforts and narrow down your talent pool, but you never know when a real-life candidate who doesn't check all the boxes will pleasantly surprise you!

Craft an Enticing Job Description

A typical job description covers the basics—what the role is and what a candidate needs to be successful. But why should a candidate choose your company over the competition? Take a few sentences in your job ad to share what makes your organization a great place to work.

BambooHR Tip: This is where your candidate persona comes in handy. Think about what today's talent will find appealing about your organization. For instance, if you're trying to recruit more young people, what type of company culture does Gen Z value?

Level Up Your Storytelling Game

Can job seekers see how much your employees love working for you? Our hiring survey shows 77% of candidates want to learn everything they can about an employer and what it’s like to work for them. Give prospective employees a taste of what life is like at your company using a few key employer branding tactics, such as:

  • Publishing blog articles about specific employees that highlight their career paths, what they currently do, and what makes going to work enjoyable
  • Posting an insider's view of the special events at your company on social media
  • Featuring employee video testimonials or quotes on your website's careers page

BambooHR Tip: Employer branding extends beyond the office—it also appeals to your customer base. People care about how you do business and treat your employees. Aligning your internal and external branding strategies is a win-win!

Tap Into Hidden Talent

You don’t need to look for employees all that far from home. Internal recruitment cuts down your time to hire and shows your team you're invested in their future. You can also recruit recently laid-off workers and non-traditional candidates (employees who could grow into the position).

Our hiring survey revealed 52% of HR managers see layoffs at other organizations as the perfect opportunity to snap up good talent. Additionally, non-traditional employees might lack specific credentials or have employment gaps, but these hidden workers often perform better in terms of work ethic, quality, and engagement.

BambooHR Tip: Hidden workers rarely make it from applicant to candidate (20%) and rarely get hired (7%). Dipping into this woefully neglected candidate pool can help you land the employees your company needs, especially during labor shortages and in overcrowded talent spaces.

Build an Employee Referral Program

It's also smart to engage your current workforce through an employee referral program. Empowering people to recommend their friends, family, and professional contacts for open positions can make it easier to reach passive candidates, build your talent pool, and boost engagement.

BambooHR Tip: Support your employee referral program with a nice incentive that motivates people to keep reaching into their networks for you. It could be an extra day of PTO or a monetary reward—whatever works for your company!

Use Recruiting Software

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) automates simple tasks, so you can spend more time guiding the overall candidate experience. Use your ATS to organize applicant information, filter resumes, move talent through each phase of the hiring process, and more.

BambooHR Tip: Take talent management on the go with the BambooHR® mobile hiring app. From coordinating with your team to corresponding with candidates, you can do it all from your smartphone.

Realizing your obligations as an employer today can help you avoid costly penalties later. If you're hiring for the first time, gather the necessary paperwork and ensure your business is ready to comply with the legal requirements for hiring and recordkeeping. If this isn't your first rodeo, simply update your documentation to meet the most current state and federal hiring standards.

Your new-hire paperwork should include:

Don't forget to report new employees to your state registry and comply with laws unique to your company. For instance, you may also be required to run pre-employment drug tests and background checks for each new employee.

Hiring remote employees requires a little extra care in the tax department. Federal payroll taxes apply no matter where your employees live in the US, but remote employees in other jurisdictions are generally subject to their state tax withholding laws. Work with a tax professional to create a payroll process that complies with the regulations in your state and wherever your remote workers are located.

How to Hire an Employee in 6 Steps

Step 1: Define the Role

To hire the right person, gain a deep understanding of the position and how it fits within the bigger picture. Start by creating an outline that describes the responsibilities of the role and sets preliminary goals. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What skills gaps do I need to fill in my company?
  • What team will this employee belong to?
  • Who will be this employee's supervisor?
  • What will this employee's workload entail each day, week, or month?
  • What's the potential career trajectory for someone in this role?

Beyond outlining the gap you’re trying to fill, this step also helps HR and hiring managers standardize job interview questions and candidate assessments for the position.

Illustration: An employee holding a clipboard with notes for how a role will be defined
Illustration: An employee's hands holding a clip board where they're taking notes

Step 2: Write a Job Description

Next, craft an official description for your job ads. A job description is a written summary that clearly communicates the expectations for a prospective employee within your company. At minimum, a job description for any open role includes:

  • Job title
  • Brief company overview
  • Summary of the position
  • Core job responsibilities
  • Required candidate qualifications
  • Preferred work experience
  • List of company benefits
  • Onsite, remote, or hybrid scheduling

Also, consider adding a salary range for the position. Even if you're in a state without pay transparency laws, disclosing a competitive salary range upfront helps job seekers learn if the role is a good financial fit before applying.

To get started, use a job description template. You may not find one for the exact job opening at your company, but a general framework can help make this step easier.

Step 3: Publish the Job Posting

It's time to share your job ad, but where’s the best place to look for employees? More importantly, where are they most likely to find you? According to a 2022 ZipRecruiter survey, posting jobs online is your best bet—nearly 60% of people found their current jobs online.

Some online job boards are more niche than others and have different pricing tiers and features, so be sure to do your research.

Illustration: A woman with a laptop on a video call

Here are some popular job posting sites for employers:

  • Glassdoor
  • FlexJobs
  • Indeed
  • Ladders
  • LinkedIn
  • Snagajob
  • ZipRecruiter

Don't forget to feature new positions on the careers page on your website. Not only is it a good way to attract job seekers already interested in your company, but they'll be able to gauge whether an online job ad truly comes from you or is part of a recruitment fraud scheme.

Illustration: Two people sitting down together for a job interview

Step 4: Interview Qualified Job Applicants

Once you’ve found qualified candidates, it’s time to meet them.

As 83% of the employees we surveyed have had bad experiences as candidates or new hires, we have a few recommendations for how to get a good sense of your talent pool while leaving a good impression.

Start with a Phone Screening

A phone screening is when a recruiter or HR manager calls an initial group of selected candidates to narrow this talent pool down to the most qualified, relevant people. That way hiring managers don’t have to spend time interviewing every single applicant, and they can focus on the most promising job candidates.

Top priorities during a phone screening should include:

  • Checking whether a candidate has the requisite experience or skills
  • Getting a sense of their soft skills (e.g., how well they communicate and listen)
  • Helping the candidate better understand the position and gauge whether or not they’re suited for the role
  • Asking for the candidate’s preferred salary range

Use Video Interviewing Tools

Technology can help you hire more efficiently, especially during the interviewing stage. Video interviews are often standard for remote or hybrid positions. But even if your organization only hires onsite workers, video interviews can help you recruit from a wider geographic area or reduce the commuting burden on local candidates.

If you don’t have a dedicated recruiter to make screening calls, you can also lean on pre-recorded video screenings to help speed things up. By sending the same screening questions to several applicants, you don’t have to schedule a specific time to call candidates. They can simply record their answers whenever it’s most convenient for them.

Standardize Candidate Assessments

Getting everyone in the interview process on the same page helps reduce personal bias and ensures all candidates are treated equally. Instead of going with a subjective “gut feeling,” hiring managers and other interviewers rely on a more structured approach, and HR keeps everyone aligned and accountable for their decisions.

Here are a few ways to create a fairer, more objective interview experience:

  • Educate your hiring team on unconscious bias. By recognizing that everyone has unconscious bias, you can work together to avoid decisions based on hunches.
  • Train interviewers on what not to ask. Hiring managers shouldn't ask questions about protected characteristics, including race, gender, sexual orientation, and others.
  • Ask all candidates the same questions. Be sure to leave room to dig into specific answers or ask follow-ups, but standard interview questions help ensure each candidate is treated fairly.
  • Create an interview scorecard with the most critical job skills. That way each interviewer understands what’s essential to the position and it's easier to compare candidates.

Free Download: Interview Scorecard

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Make a Longer List of Final Candidates

This is another important way to increase the diversity in your candidate selection. In a study on gender bias, extending the final list from just three candidates to six pushed people to go beyond their impulse to list candidates of a single gender and consider a broader range of possibilities.

However, countering bias doesn’t stop with making a longer list. Using this strategy alongside other initiatives driving workplace equity can help you successfully welcome more diverse voices and experiences into your company.

Keep Every Candidate Up to Date

To create the best candidate experience, communicate throughout the interview process. The prospective employees on your list should know when they'll hear from your company and who will be reaching out about next steps.

As for the job candidates you've vetoed, don’t ghost them—let them know what you’ve decided and leave things on a cordial note. Treating your candidates well (even if they weren't hired) helps maintain a positive employer brand and build valuable relationships.

Step 5: Check References

Plan on checking references sometime after the interview yet before you make a final decision and send a job offer. Most employers ask candidates for three references, but this check-in is more about the relevance and quality of information they provide (and whether or not you can get a hold of them).

Illustration: An employee seated at a desktop computer, checking a candidate's references

Keep these best practices for reference checks in mind:

  • Talk to people with first-hand experience. They may be past managers, professors, colleagues, or mentors.
  • References should speak to the candidate’s work-related skills. This holds true even if they know the candidate from a setting outside of work, like a volunteering program.
  • Ask the same questions to each set of references. Just like interviews, sticking to the same set of questions ensures fairness.
  • Listen for patterns as the references share their comments. This helps you get a sense of any hidden skills or work habits not discussed in the interview.
  • Take glowing reviews with a grain of salt. Most candidates only provide a list of references they expect will say good things.
  • Never contact a candidate’s current employer without permission. Their boss may not know they’re thinking about leaving, and you don't want to put them in a tough spot.
Illustration: Two people shaking hands

Step 6: Extend a Competitive Job Offer

Now that you’ve found the best candidate for your open role, make a formal job offer. It may feel like you've reached the finish line, but this is one of the most important hiring steps to get right.

After all, you need to make a compelling offer—or risk losing the best candidate to a competing organization.

Here are some tips for making a formal job offer:

  • Call the job candidate. A quick conversation can help you gauge their level of enthusiasm, confirm their interest, and start the employer-employee relationship on the right foot.
  • Give total rewards information. Compensation, benefits, recognition, and other perks are among candidates’ top considerations when deciding whether or not to accept an offer, so be ready with that information.
  • Get a commitment over the phone, if possible. Some candidates—especially those with high-demand skills—want to take time to consider the offer. If that's the case, it's fair to ask them for their initial thoughts.
  • Put everything in writing. Email the candidate to make sure they understand the full scope of your job offer before committing.

Every offer letter should include the official job title, supervisor's name, start date, base salary, and any additional items discussed during the interview phase.

Next Steps: Prepare for the Onboarding Process

Congratulations! Your top candidate accepted your job offer, and it's time to start the onboarding process. The main goal of onboarding is to create a good foundation for your new hire, so they feel happy to have accepted the job and excited to start work.

This step also helps your new employee:

  • Get acquainted with your organization and culture.
  • Complete the necessary paperwork.
  • Learn what they’ll be doing for your company.
Illustration: Two smiling employees welcoming a new hire

Here are some things you can do to streamline the onboarding process:

Prioritize Administrative Tasks

A lot happens during those first few days. Make things easier on everyone by automating the more routine (though crucial) onboarding tasks before your new hire starts, like gathering payroll information, signing tax forms, and communicating company policies.

Set an Onboarding Timeline

There’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for onboarding. It should be appropriate for the role and your organization. Work with your team to decide how long to spend getting your new hire acclimated. New employees should get up to speed within the first six months, but extending it longer can help boost employee retention. To figure out your onboarding timeline, ask yourself:

  • What's the level of support we have for onboarding?
  • Do we have buy-in from our senior leadership and management teams?
  • How can other teams enrich the process?

Also, find ways to integrate self-onboarding methods. Your new hires are free to learn the ropes on their own through tutorials, videos, and other tools, and you're free to focus on supporting their new career path in other impactful ways.

Build Personal Connections

Integrating new hires is crucial for retention. People with a best friend at work are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs compared to people without a work buddy, which means they’re less likely to go looking for another job.

Employee onboarding is your opportunity to facilitate meaningful meet-and-greets, put your best foot forward as a company, and solidify their decision to stay with you long-term.

Create better first days.

BambooHR helps you build an effective onboarding process with customizable onboarding checklists, welcome emails, and new hire packets—so every new hire feels welcome on day one.

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