Poor hiring practices can be costly, not only in financial terms if the person hired doesn’t work out, but also in the impact they have on the overall culture of the film and TV industry. This includes lack of diversity, skills shortages from people advancing too quickly without appropriate training, retention issues, limited career progression, bullying and harassment and negative wellbeing.
Investing time and resources into the recruitment process will help ensure that you get the best person in the role. When done correctly, it can reduce costs, improve the employee experience and support the company’s reputation as a good employer, thereby attracting the best talent.
Everyone involved in the recruitment process – especially if they don’t have the support of an HR team – should have the appropriate knowledge and skills to make effective and fair hiring decisions to ensure that the organisation remains compliant with government legislation.
Do your research
There are many government acts that deal with employment, for example, the Equality Act 2010. It protects job applicants, and those already employed, against discrimination under any of its nine ‘protected characteristics’. These are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Other employment statutes include: Employment Rights Act 1996, Working Time Regulations 1998, National Minimum Wages Act 1998, Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, Data Protection Act 1998, Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.
These e-learning modules will give you a head-start on preparing your recruitment process in the right way:
- Addressing unconscious bias: basic awareness in the workplace
- Inclusive hiring for the screen industries
Make sure you also take a look at the Disability Awareness for Hirers and Equality and Inclusion Essentials courses here.
Defining the role
The key questions to ask are what is needed? Why is it needed? How long for? What skills and experience are required?
Think carefully about what skills are essential for the role. Is there flexibility in terms of location or the required hours of work (this could open the role up to applications from those with disabilities or caring responsibilities)? Do some of the skills required exist in roles in other industries?
These useful links can help you identify transferable skills from other industries:
- Read about people who have joined the screen industries from other sectors by transferring their skills
- Know about crossover careers
- Complete the Skills assessment – gov.uk with the skills required for your role, and see what other career options are suggested.
Job descriptions are currently underused in the screen industries – but they are invaluable, giving both the employer and the person being hired a clear understanding of the role and their responsibilities. This can also include a person specification to indicate what prior experience or skills are needed for the role, and further information such as the working location or reporting lines.
Our job description template shows what you should include. You can also use our skills checklists to populate your job descriptions with typical responsibilities and skills for someone working in any of these roles. These cover a wide range of departments across scripted productions, and can be tailored to any role depending on the genre and size of the project, selecting the responsibilities and skills that match your particular situation.
Find out more advice below on how to use job descriptions and how to make them as inclusive as possible in order to attract the widest selection of applicants.
A job description is a document that outlines what is involved in a job role, including the relevant duties and responsibilities.
Job descriptions are underused in the screen industries. With most people working on short-term contracts, moving from job to job and a quick recruitment turn around, there is often neither the time nor the capability to write formal job descriptions for each role. Hirers might also not have access to standard templates that they can use, especially if they’re working in a small company or as a freelance hiring manager.
The duties and responsibilities of each role are therefore often largely assumed by others working in the industry. If you apply for a particular role, there is an assumption that you are aware of what that role entails, and ideally have experience of performing the duties on a previous production.
But job descriptions can play an important part in making the recruitment process more transparent and inclusive. A clear and well-written job description enables a candidate to determine if they have the required skills and experience for the role, and to apply accordingly – especially if they are looking to get into the sector for the first time. The job description can also be used by those recruiting, by assessing the skills and experience of the candidate against the roles and responsibilities of the role.
Not having a clear job description for a role can have negative effects on performance if a role is unclear, and expectations are not set out from the start. It can cause confusion amongst team members regarding responsibilities. It can contribute to low morale if individuals are unable to see the contribution they are making in their role.
When creating a job description, it is important to consider not only the duties and responsibilities of the role, but also the culture and values of the company. It is useful to include a person specification as part of the job description, so that any candidates wishing to apply are clear on any qualifications, skills and experience that is required for the role.
A job description should contain the following information:
- Job information – Job title, Department, Location, Reporting line
- Overview, or main purpose of job
- Duties and responsibilities – most important tasks first, least important last
- Person specification: knowledge, skills, training and experience required to perform the role, including both role-specific and transferable skills.
You can adapt the information provided in the skills checklists for a wide range of roles and departments in production, to select the most appropriate responsibilities, skills and experiences for the role you are describing.
It is important to consider what skills and experience are essential for the role, what are only desirable – and what could be learnt on the job, or with training at a later stage. Where possible, try to stick to essential criteria for the role only, to avoid unnecessary pre-requisites for entry including irrelevant prior experience, training and qualifications.
The ‘Defining the Role’ section of the Toolkit, and the transferable skills listed in the skills checklists, provides useful information and links to help you consider if relevant skills from other industries could be applied to the role. For example, if you require someone with experience of organising and booking, could someone with experience of being a Personal Assistant, or someone working in the music industry in touring have the right transferable skills?
Care should be taken if there are physical requirements specified in the job description. The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to a workplace or the way a job is carried out to remove barriers faced by disabled people. If there is a physical requirement for the role, it must be stated in terms of the job that needs to be done. For example, a job may require travel to several different locations or for the candidate to carry heavy equipment. This should be made clear so that an employer can assess what reasonable adjustments could be made to support a disabled candidate, and the candidate can make informed decisions about their suitability for the role and can discuss adjustments with potential employers for them to able to carry out the work.
Pay attention to the language used in the job description. Try to avoid using jargon, technical terms, or abbreviations as this might exclude people from other industries who might have relevant transferable skills. Use clear, concise language that is non-discriminatory and inclusive at all times (for example, keeping job titles gender neutral). Remove references to specific years of experience to avoid age discrimination: it is possible to state ‘experienced’ or ‘with experience of’ or ‘a background in finance would be beneficial’ – if for example you were recruiting for an accountant.
Unless it is a genuine requirement of the role, terms like “flexibility”, “prepared to work late”, or “willing to work long hours” could also be discriminatory to those with caring responsibilities.
Help yourself to these essential resources:
How to advertise
The process should be transparent, timely and fair for all candidates.
Poorly designed recruitment processes can negatively impact the employer brand and the ability to attract candidates.
Inclusion and diversity should be integral throughout the process, with practices and systems regularly reviewed to ensure resourcing methods are inclusive and hidden bias is removed. Everyone taking part in activities such as shortlisting and interviewing must be aware of relevant recruitment legislation and the need to avoid discrimination in recruitment and selection.
Wording used in job adverts needs to take into consideration the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010. Any wording in adverts that appears to discriminate against any of these characteristics could be used by a prospective applicant or rejected candidate to make a claim for discrimination.
Positive action may be used to encourage applications from under-represented groups. The decision on who to hire must be based on merit, and not purely on the basis of their age, disability, gender, race or religion, regardless of their ability to do the job. Hiring based on a protected characteristic alone would result in positive discrimination which is unlawful. A company can choose to hire an individual from an under-represented group, as long as they are suitably qualified for the role. Positive action is not legally required and is entirely voluntary.
Check out this essential guide to positive action from the Government Equalities Office.
Including an equal opportunities statement can help attract a more diverse range of candidates, particularly if it’s worded authentically and sounds genuine rather than generic. This can, for example, demonstrate:
- you comply with the Equality Act to show candidates you acknowledge the regulation’s existence and understand its importance
- your commitment to recruit employees based on merit, and not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics
- your company’s overall commitment to workplace diversity
- particular inclusive employment practices or initiatives you offer, such as flexible working, job sharing or being a Disability Confident employer.
- “Our goal is to welcome everyone and create inclusive teams and workplaces. We take our responsibilities under the Equality Act seriously, we celebrate difference and encourage everyone to be themselves at work.”
- “[company name] embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are committed to building a team based on merit, and that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and skills. The more inclusive we are, the better our work will be.”
You should aim to advertise as widely as possible in order to reach as many people as possible, from as many different backgrounds as possible.
Below are some examples of places you could advertise roles. Many of these also operate other social media accounts. You could consider advertising a role on your organisation’s own social media too.
Examples of places to advertise roles in film and TV:
- Social media – using your own organisation’s social media, and also film and TV Facebook groups and Twitter.
- Job boards – such as Screenskills or The Talent Manager.
- Talent agencies – such as Talented People or Gritty Talent
- Specific job sites which might be more likely to be seen by underrepresented groups, such as Telly Mums, Mumsnet, BME Jobs, Black in TV, Think Bigger, Evenbreak, LGBTJobs and Restless.
Where possible and appropriate, you should also include the following details about the contract you are advertising, to give as much transparency as possible to applicants:
- Salary band or rates of pay
- Contractual hours
- Duration of contract
- Location of contract.
Managing the application and selection process
These may need to be made for candidates throughout the application and selection process.
For example, as well as helping those with a physical disability, recruitment processes might be adapted for neurodivergent people or those with audible or visual restrictions.
Where possible, your advert should invite applicants who may need adjustments to contact the employer directly to identify additional support they might need during the recruitment process.
Make sure you know about reasonable adjustments, read more about what they are here.
Dealing with applications
All applications should be treated confidentially and circulated only to those individuals involved in the recruitment process.
Prompt acknowledgment of an application – whether successful or unsuccessful – is good practice and presents a positive image of the organisation or production. It can be useful to note in the advert that only successful applicants will be contacted, if you will not have the time or resources to send acknowledgements.
You will need to decide what criteria will be used to shortlist candidates, and what form interviews will take. Will they be a phone call, video call or in-person? This process needs to be fair and transparent.
Unconscious bias training is useful to raise awareness in the workplace of thoughts and opinions that individuals might not be aware of. Unconscious bias training alone is unlikely to improve inclusive working practices, but it can help workplaces implement further measures that will. For example, using positive action in order to attract applicants from under-represented groups, or a “blind review” of candidates with all references to names, gender, age, race or ethnicity removed.
Interviews can have limitations, so preparing questions in advance can help improve results. Base your questions on the key skills you need for the role and also the culture of the organisation. All candidates should be asked the same questions to prevent any feelings of discrimination or bias.
Involve more than one person in the hiring process in order to keep each other accountable. Everyone has different views and opinions and will see the candidate from their own perspective. If you can, involve people who are part of groups that are under-represented in the screen industries.
Offering multiple communication channels for interviews, including video or phone when done remotely, gives candidates the opportunity to choose an approach that suits their resources and comfort level. If it’s possible to offer interview slots during the day, evening and weekend, then it can accommodate people with varying schedules and commitments. Any interview materials provided to candidates (such as videos or documents) need to be made accessible to everyone.
Using an interview scoring matrix can help to keep the recruitment process fair and objective whilst providing structure to the interview. See the template here.
Making the appointment
Make a verbal offer to the employee, outlining the role, dates of work and rate, with the caveat that the appointment is subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks, such as reference checks and confirmation of right to work. Offers should always be put in writing, so that everything is clear (it is worth noting that verbal agreements can also be legally binding).