Your busi­ness is grow­ing and you need help. That’s the good news. But now you need to hire some­one. You’ll need to write a job descrip­tion, adver­tise, get appli­ca­tions, inter­view, decide whether to hire, make the offer, and com­plete the intake of the new employee.

For larger com­pa­nies this process can be long and involved. For small employ­ers, all of this can take place within hours. But no mat­ter how long the process, you still need to fol­low the law. There should be no dis­crim­i­na­tion at any point dur­ing each step and you must respect the applicant’s privacy.

Here are some red flags to watch out for: if a man is hired instead of a woman, a white appli­cant instead of a minor­ity, a younger worker instead of an older worker, a non-disabled per­son instead of a dis­abled per­son, an Amer­i­can instead of some­one of a dif­fer­ent national origin.

Job Descrip­tions

It’s good to write a job descrip­tion so that you focus on what it takes to get the job done. The descrip­tion should include safety require­ments, qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as skills, edu­ca­tion, expe­ri­ence, or licenses, essen­tial job func­tions, and non-essential functions.


If you adver­tise for the job don’t use gen­der words like -man, gal, -tress, words that reveal age such as stu­dent, young, and words that might dis­cour­age pro­tected classes from applying.


In your appli­ca­tion ask only for job-related infor­ma­tion such as edu­ca­tional back­ground, employ­ment his­tory, spe­cial train­ing or achieve­ments related to the job, the date they can start work, etc.

Don’t ask for non-job related stuff such as age, birth­date, height or weight, gen­der (Mrs., Mr.), mar­i­tal sta­tus (sin­gle, mar­ried, num­ber of chil­dren), national ori­gin (lin­eage, ances­try), arrests that didn’t result in con­vic­tion, orga­ni­za­tions (clubs, soci­eties), per­sonal finance, and photographs.


When you inter­view the appli­cant stick to job-related stuff.


A lie detec­tor test may not be used in Alaska as a con­di­tion of employ­ment (there are a few excep­tions such as the hir­ing of police offi­cers). You can require skill test­ing if the skills you’re test­ing are related to the job. It’s best to stay away from apti­tude and psy­cho­log­i­cal tests. Your test­ing require­ments must apply to all enter­ing employ­ees who do the same job. You may with­draw an offer based on results if the rea­sons are job-related or to avoid a direct threat to health and safety, and you are unable to make rea­son­able accommodations.

In order to do drug test­ing in Alaska the employer must have a writ­ten pol­icy; the employ­ees must be informed of the pol­icy and pro­vided with a copy; and prospec­tive employ­ees must be informed.


If you need dri­ving records, crim­i­nal his­to­ries, credit reports, employ­ment ref­er­ence check­ing, or school tran­scripts, you must give notice of the require­ment to the appli­cant, get their con­sent, and pro­vide a copy of the con­sent to the per­son with the infor­ma­tion. You must also make sure that there is a busi­ness need for the infor­ma­tion. Be care­ful search­ing the inter­net for infor­ma­tion about an appli­cant. You may dis­cover unlaw­ful infor­ma­tion that can come back and bite you.

Job Offers

When you make the offer, make sure that you don’t make promises of job secu­rity and the like. Draft an offer let­ter so that there’s no con­fu­sion about the job title, start­ing date, ben­e­fits, and salary. You should also refer to your employee hand­book, dis­claim oral com­mit­ments, and remind the new employee about their at-will sta­tus and how it can be altered.

Some­times, some­one will want an employ­ment con­tract such as an expe­ri­enced exec­u­tive, some­one leav­ing a secure job, some­one who moves far away, or a per­son with a par­tic­u­lar skill. The con­tract should include incen­tives, rea­sons for ter­mi­nat­ing the rela­tion­ship, sev­er­ance pay, etc.

It’s a good idea to send a short let­ter to rejected applicants.