How to hire your first employee

young graduate woman being interviewed for a job

Congratulations – your business is growing and you’re ready to hire your first member of staff.

But hold on before you dive head-first into a recruitment drive. Many business experts advise caution when hiring your first employee, and for good reason. Whilst a new employee may well help drive your business goals, hiring the wrong person or recruiting at the wrong time can harm rather than help your prospects.

So, ensure your first hire makes a positive impact to your business with these six tips.

Check: Do you definitely want to hire?

It’s important not to rush into hiring staff. Ask yourself first whether you definitely need a new member of staff. Taking on a full-time employee’s salary and benefits is a big commitment. Check first whether you could outsource to a freelancer or specialist consultant and only when this is no longer cost effective should you consider hiring staff.

Be prepared

Hiring your first employee is exciting. It’s recognition of the growing demand that your business is facing, as well as demonstrating your commitment for the future. But its important to not get hung up on the buzz of your business success. Remember that there are responsibilities that come with becoming an Employer aside from the obvious salary commitment. New employees will need clear role definition, feedback and support – all of which takes time. If you don’t have time to invest in train and support a new employee, then it’s not the right time to hire.

Define what you want the employee to do

Many start-ups hire staff to do bit jobs without fully thinking through whether this work can fill a 35-hour week. So, don’t get caught on scraping for work for your new hire. Instead, allocate two or three key projects for them to manage as their core work load and then filter in smaller tasks around this.

Ask for recommendations

Referrals are a great way to get reliable recommendations. I find that asking for recommendations from my LinkedIn network always gets a good response. I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating a network of professionals whose opinion I trust, so this is a great place to start. But if you’re not active on LinkedIn, simply asking a friend who’s also in the industry is a good starting point.

Consider internships

Internships are a great for trialling junior members of staff and have been a key recruitment technique I’ve used for hiring staff throughout my career. Some employers exploit young people for cheap labour – this is wrong. Don’t offer unpaid placements with no intention of a job offer at the end. Instead, recruit interns in the same way you would recruit a permanent member of staff, then offer a three-month paid trial period to see if they’re a good fit for your company. Hiring junior staff gives you the opportunity to mould and develop your employee around the needs of your business. Just make sure you’re prepared to invest the time it will take to get the relationship to work.

Pick based on personality

Your first employee hire will help carve out the culture of the business, so in my opinion it’s important to choose someone that reflects your own work ethic. Ultimately, you want someone that will be passionate and invested in the future of your business. Someone that you trust to do a good job and that will respect your direction.

About the author

Amanda Walls is Director at Cedarwood Digital. Amanda has worked in digital marketing for over a decade, working as Head of Digital for a digital agency before launching her own boutique agency Cedarwood Digital last year. In addition to her client work, Amanda also works with Google’s Digital Garage to provide digital marketing skills training to SME’s and start-ups.

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