Hiring your very first employee is a landmark moment.
Your business is finally taking off, and you no longer have to do all the work by yourself.
However, finding the right person for your company isn’t always easy, especially when you’ve never recruited anyone before.
In this article, we’ll give you our top tips for successfully hiring your first employee.
1. Focus on Their Potential, Not Their Past Employer
It’s easy to get distracted and focus solely on employment history.
That’s not the best idea, and here’s why.
Their past employment doesn’t guarantee they’ll be the ideal fit for your company.
When potential employers look at the employment history of their prospects, they assume the time spent there has taught prospects some valuable skills and given the experience that will benefit them.
That’s only an assumption.
Their past employer might’ve run their business completely differently than you do, which will make it harder for the prospect to fit in your company.
Consider this example.
If their past employer checked up on their work all the time, your prospect might have a hard time working autonomously and without supervision.
By focusing on their potential instead, you’re looking at what matters; how your potential employee will use the best of their abilities to help you grow your business.
After all, that’s the goal of hiring the right first employee.
The best way to focus on their potential is to prioritize their knowledge and abilities ahead of their employment record.
Understand what they can do and see how they fit in your company, instead of assuming their past employment record guarantees they’re the right person for the job.
As an employer, focus on their future potential instead of past employment.
On the same note, let’s talk about evaluating their skills.
2. Have Your Prospects Demonstrate Their Skills
Your company will rely on your new employee’s skills for growth. So testing those skills is paramount.
For starters, the applicant’s skill level is more valuable than their work experience.
Some employees improve their skills at lightning speed within one year of employment, while others are slow learners and take years to improve at their position.
You can get an honest assessment of their skill level when you see your prospects in action instead of reading about it.
When you have your prospects show what they know, they also reveal their attitude towards work. For you, this insight is priceless.
As you know, it’s not just about completing tasks; it’s about having the right work ethic and paying attention to the details. Your ideal candidate will put in their best effort.
Unfortunately, many candidates are dishonest when applying for a job.
A survey by Ladders found that about 30% of job applicants lie or bend the truth on their resumes. Furthermore, 80% never get caught, according to the same survey.
While most applicants are honest in their resumes, 3 out of 10 applicants are likely to lie or bend the truth.
If you want to avoid hiring a dishonest candidate, have them show their skills.
You can achieve this by designing an application task that will show if they have the skill set your position requires.
Once they’re writing a task, it’s up to their abilities, not their resume.
Now it’s time we talk about hiring a person who’s a culture fit for your company.
3. Make Sure the New Employee Is a Culture Fit
Your company has its culture, and your ideal future employee has to fit into it.
Even though you’ve been working by yourself until this point, your company has values built into it. Your employee has to mirror those values for you two to get along.
Conversely, if you don’t share the same values, you’ll have a hard time understanding each other. Then you’ll see a rise in tension and a decline in productivity.
An employee that’s a culture fit can achieve longevity within your company.
It’s hard to imagine they’d stay with your company for a decade if you’re a mismatch.
If you want to build a long-term relationship with your employees, they’ll have to suit your values and culture.
It’s also worth mentioning that being a cultural fit is sometimes more important than the skill level.
Skill level is vital, but only to a certain extent.
If you determine a candidate has the right skills but doesn’t fit in, those skills won’t be of much use.
Similarly, if you have a candidate with developed skills and potential who’s the perfect cultural fit for your business, giving them a chance is a good call.
So how to assess if they’re a good cultural fit?
Start by identifying your company culture if that’s still unclear to you.
You can do it by establishing your core values and goals and writing them down in a company culture statement.
The next thing is to mix in the cultural questions in the interview subtly, so you can feel out if they’re a match.
For example, you can ask questions like:
- Describe your ideal work environment.
- What kind of leadership style do you expect from me?
- What do you want to achieve with this company?
After you’ve established the cultural fit, we can move on to the next tip.
4. See if They Are Genuinely Passionate About Your Business
An employee that’s genuinely passionate about your products or services will go the extra mile.
When prospects are enthusiastic about your business, they’ll put in maximum effort.
You won’t just get a skilled employee that will complete their tasks successfully, but a highly motivated worker who will make your company’s success their personal goal.
You won’t have to worry about their engagement at work or them slacking off.
Ideally, you’ll have an individual working alongside you that’s as passionate about your business as you are. You need employees like that if you want to succeed.
Remember, you can teach your new employees a lot, but you can’t teach them to be passionate about your business. That’s something they need to bring to the table.
There are several ways to see if they’re genuinely passionate about your business and not just their salary.
The most straightforward thing you can do is ask them for feedback about your products and services.
Ask them what things they like the most about your products and how they would improve them.
An enthusiastic candidate will be full of ideas and pointers on what they’d like to do.
Passionate job prospects will do their homework and explore your past projects or clients.
Another way to gauge the prospects’ enthusiasm is by asking for motivational letters as part of your job applications.
A great motivational letter takes time and effort to write, so the most enthusiastic prospects will write terrific letters, while average applicants will only follow a template.
You can easily spot a template motivational letter. It lacks any distinctive features that show investment in your position and your company.
Now, what about your expectations of new hires?
5. Set Your Expectations
Since you haven’t hired anyone before, it’s difficult to know what you can expect from the entire experience.
Your first hiring might be completely different from what you’ve originally expected it to be. It can end up being a complete disappointment or a pleasant surprise.
Before you hire your first employee, clearly understand what you expect from them.
A great, tangible way to do that is to write down the goals you expect to achieve by hiring a new employee.
By doing so, you can always check back to see if the new hire has lived up to your expectations.
The employee goals you write should be measurable and time-bound since you expect to achieve them in a certain period since the hiring.
For instance, if it takes more time than expected for your new hire to complete their goals, you need to readjust your expectations.
Setting your expectations is extremely important, especially when hiring for the first time.
It will help you understand what to expect from new hires in the future and become a better recruiter.
In addition, it’s going to keep you from having unrealistic expectations for recruits.
It might not sound like much initially, but avoiding them will improve your overall hiring process. As your business grows, setting realistic expectations will become more critical.
Let’s talk about your onboarding process.
6. Sketch Out the Onboarding Process
Onboarding is a critically important step for hiring a new employee.
A successful onboarding process allows you to integrate a new employee into your company and their new position.
Without a well-thought-out onboarding, it will take more time for your new hire to get acclimated to their new duties, and their learning period will take longer.
Having better onboarding will save your company time and money.
This means you’ll be able to take full advantage of your new employee’s potential sooner.
Also, mapping out your onboarding process allows you to re-evaluate it and improve it later, after the onboarding period ends.
Like we said, as your company grows, you’ll onboard more employees.
If you carefully log your onboarding process, it’s easier to pinpoint pain points in your company onboarding and make it better for the sake of recruits.
So how do you sketch out the onboarding process?
First, set a time in which you expect to fully onboard your recruit. You can define it by days, weeks, or months.
Ideally, by the end of this period, you’ll finish onboarding your recruits in their position.
What you want to do next is divide the period into learning phases.
Design every phase that teaches something new to the recruit and gradually moves from simpler to more complex tasks.
Include mastering company software, achieving tasks, and working according to the company workflow.
7. Make Your First Employee Feel Welcome
Once you take on the new employee, you’re no longer a one-man band with a business idea; you’re officially a team!
By warmly welcoming your first employee, you show you’re happy to have them, and that, in turn, inspires them to perform their best as a member of the team.
On the other hand, if you put in zero effort to welcome your first employee, you’ll make it clear that the recruit is not a valued team member.
It won’t be shocking if the recruit leaves as soon as they spot a better opportunity.
When your first employee feels welcome, they genuinely feel like they made the right decision to join.
By doing so, you’ll instill confidence in them about your newfound business relationship.
Out of all their employment options, they chose your company, and that’s something you have to acknowledge and appreciate.
It’s the least you can do.
The best way to welcome your first employee is to show your gratitude and optimism.
Since they’re the first person you’ve ever hired, they’re special to the company.
It’s also important to let them know that and be there for them if they have a hard time adjusting.
How well you welcome them will shape their first impression, making their first days memorable and starting things off the right way.
8. Prepare the Paperwork
Hiring new employees also entails a legal process that you have to adhere to.
Failing to fill in and submit the paperwork might result in fines that your growing company will have to pay. That is a senseless waste of resources.
Additionally, when you’ve set up the legal process in advance, both you and your new employee have legal protection.
If anything goes wrong or there’s a dispute, there are contracts and papers to keep things on track.
Being careless about it can easily backfire and limit your company’s growth.
Since you’re in a delicate growing phase, you don’t want unnecessary risks hovering above your head. It might be a drag, but filling in the paperwork in a timely manner is a must-do.
To make things easier, before you officially hire your new employee, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper.
They should know what forms you need to fill out to be on the safe side.
Second, contact your attorney and have them prepare a draft of your contract, so the hiring process adheres to all the necessary regulations.
Let’s talk about the final pro tip.
9. Don’t Rush the Recruiting Process
Understandably, you’re excited to hire your first employee—but don’t rush it.
Quality recruiting takes time.
If you rush the recruitment process, you might miss some critical red flags that can show the candidate is not a good long-term fit for your company.
Let’s look at the numbers.
As many as 46% of employers think that a poor role-candidate fit is the main reason for an employee not working out for their company.
Picking poor candidates will cause high churn rates for your growing business and have a negative impact.
You’ll experience losses, both in terms of time and in money, and taking on another employee means you’ll have to onboard them again.
You won’t be able to fully attend to your other duties because you’ll have to spend time onboarding.
It’s going to take weeks or even months before you can reap the full benefits of hiring a new employee.
You’ll be less productive, and your company will earn less than it potentially could.
If you want to ensure you’ve taken enough time for the recruiting process, first understand the current trends in HR.
Not only will you have a better understanding of the recruiting process, but you’ll also have an overview of what’s changed in the hiring environment over the last year and adjust your expectations.
It’s better to put in the time to hire the right people the first time around than risk churn and lose even more time and resources down the line.
It’s better to spend weeks assessing the ideal candidate than rushing and making a wrong decision.
Final Thoughts: 9 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs Hiring Their First Employee
There’s a special thrill when you’re hiring an employee for the first time.
Even though company growth is excellent news, you should still be conscious about it.
At least now, you’re armed with the best pro tips for making sure your first recruitment is a fantastic experience.
Let these tips sink in, and we’re sure you’ll make the best recruitment choice for the company.
This is a guest post written by Michelle Laurey.
Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking about business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.
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