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How to hire your first employee

Simon Collins
Written by Simon Collins

‘Hire people who are smarter than you are—whose talents surpass yours—and give them opportunities for growth. It's the smart thing to do and it is a sign of high personal humility.’

Bruna Martinuzzi, author and CEO of Clarion enterprises

When it comes to hiring, there’s a lot to consider, and jobseekers are now expecting more and more from their employers. In fact, half of job seekers say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation.

Gone are the days of employers having complete freedom in how they hire – they must now work on their employer branding and spend time attracting great talent.

And your first hire is perhaps the most important. They’ll be the cultural spark that will shape your growing business. Here’s our take on how you can make hiring your first employee a resounding success.

How much will your first hire cost?

Budgeting your first hire can’t be an afterthought. After all, you're running a business and its profitability is its survivability.

Also, consider the costs around hiring that perhaps aren’t immediately obvious, like:

  • National Insurance
  • Paying into a pension plan
  • Not all roles lend themselves to this, but it’s worth thinking about.
  • Office space, computer, stationary etc.
  • If you use a recruiter, there’s an additional cost.

 

Once you’ve established the true-cost of your first hire, you can be confident in their necessity and your business growth going forward.

Deciding on and clarifying the role

It’s important to understand what exactly you’re looking for in the role, and what day-to-day duties look like.

A good first step to understanding who you need to hire is to just start writing the job listing, even if you’re still undecided on what your first hire might do. This will help clarify your thinking and get the ball rolling.

Taking stock of what your current responsibilities and activities are will also be helpful. Are you spending a lot of time managing social media? Maybe, this can be part of your first hire’s role, for example.

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We all have our biases, and no one is a perfect judge of character. According to the Harvard Business Review:

‘Judging on extrinsic and skill-based factors is a relatively objective and straightforward exercise. Gauging softer traits such as someone’s will or attitude is much, much harder.’

It makes sense to get help from others when making your first hire, too. Use your connections and ask them to have a look at CVs for you. Also, ask them to sit in on late-stage interviews so that they can provide a second opinion.

Ideally, involve someone you know with hiring and HR experience. It’s a complex thing trying to understand someone’s ability and character – you should always try to rely on someone with years of know-how to much up for your gaps in experience.

Write the best advertisement

It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting the talent pool to do all the work and to line up outside your door. The reality is: you likely operate in a competitive market, and job-seekers, especially those with attractive skills and experience levels, will be applying to other jobs, too.

Therefore, it’s important to write a job advert that sets your company aside from the competition.

Here are some ideas for optimising your job listing:

  • Set clear and honest expectations (re-hiring is costly).
  • Sell the benefits of the role (and not just the salary).
  • Include a link to your website or LinkedIn page so candidates can research you.
  • Write in a tone of voice that reflects your business’s ethos.

If you’re not good with words, get the help of a copywriter to polish your sentences and really sell the position. And finally, ensure you post the job listing in multiple places to boost exposure, and ask your social networks to share it with anyone they think might be interested.

Holding interviews

Batching your interviews and conducting them all in one day will help you condense the hiring process, as well as help you get in the zone with your interviewing.

It’s important that you think about the impression you’re making during the interview process, and that you remain professional. If you’re a solopreneur, consider renting an office space so that you can ensure privacy during interviews, showcase the legitimacy of your business and offer neutral ground for candidates.

The quality of the interview is going to be driven by the quality of the questions. Below are some things to think about when preparing yours:

  • Don’t make it all about work. Ask questions about a candidate’s life outside of what they do nine to five, and who they are as a person.
  • Identify their competence in the role. Ask questions that will reveal if they can do the job. Also, provide short tests to see if they can walk-the-walk.
  • Follow-up questions are your best friend. If you haven’t got the answer you want or think there’s more to uncover, drill down with specific questions.

For a longer guide on how to conduct an interview, head here.

Your first hire is important. But so is what’s next

The average job position gets 250 applications. Consequently, hiring someone is not a light undertaking. But if you follow the steps we’ve covered, you’ll be in a strong position to make your first hire a resounding success.

However, once you’ve hired someone, it’s just the beginning. There’s more steps and on-going processes you need to have in place to successfully manage them. Some of these are both tricky and time-consuming. And as a business owner, your time must be protected. As Miles Davis once said:

‘Time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.’

To make managing your employee/s a little easier, why not let technology take out some of the pain? Download our free guide below and discover how Turbine can help you manage your HR processes and reduce the bureaucracy of paperwork.

Beginner's guide to workplace automation AB variant

small business owners , small business hiring , successful hires