Along with making your first sale or landing your first customer or client, one of the most exciting milestones for a new startup is hiring your first employee. Eventually, someone other than the founders will join you. Helping you realize your dream of future success by putting in the long hours and hard work to make your goals a reality. However, the importance of investing time in this process should not be underestimated. If you thought you’d just post a job ad and sit back and choose from the applicants that arrive in your inbox, think again.
Arguably, the first hire a startup makes is the most important. This is because, based on their successes, they will be the ones who will lay the foundation for more recruitments in the future. They will also allow you to develop and grow your business. So, when you are in a position to start the interview, make sure you give enough thought to the following key factors. Doing so will give you the best chance of finding the right people.
1. Know the Qualities You’re Looking For
There are many great qualities of good employees. A good employee has a great attitude, is able to do his job well, is organized, and is punctual. Good employees can also be the team members who work the hardest, contribute to team cohesion, and can work well together without requiring much supervision. We all want to have a loyal team of employees with all these qualities. But you may have to settle for some of them.
Before hiring your first employees, consider the qualities you want to see in a team member. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
What qualities are important to the position as well as the culture of the business? What qualities will help the business grow? Which qualities, if absent, would hurt the business the most? Are skills more important than talent? Is readiness more important than ability to perform a task? Is personality important because of the customer interaction?
These questions will help you understand which qualities you need for your business and which qualities are not as important. Once you’ve identified the qualities you want to see in your first employees, it’s time to focus on their role within your company.
2. Identify areas where you need help
No one knows what tasks you need to do more than you. This is because, up to this point, most likely it has been you who has been doing them. One of the great things about starting your own business is that you get to see how every aspect of the business works. From sales and marketing to finance and legal. However, how well you can execute or manage each of these tasks is questionable.
Therefore, you need to decide in which areas you need the most help. The first hires you would want to make in your startup would be people who can ease your workload, and at the same time drive the business forward. Remember, you are working towards the goal of a business that works even when you are not there. So, perhaps hiring a barista over a sales or marketing executive at this stage is not the right move.
3. Clearly define job responsibilities
Once you have decided on the function for which this person will be responsible, you need to properly fulfill the role. And, in the process, create a job description. Begin by listing all of the responsibilities that fall under this position. Include everything relevant, but don’t just add everything that needs to be done in the business. Remember, you may be happy working every hour of your day to get your business off the ground. But, that doesn’t mean your employees would lay down their lives to do so. If your job description is too diverse and tries to cover too many bases, you are setting yourself up to fail to find the right person.
For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, don’t expect them to be equally involved in practical product development. You’re looking for someone with the experience or skill set that will do one of your tasks really well, you’re not farming unicorns. Once you’ve created a clearly defined job description, ask yourself, “Does this person exist?” You can always do a sanity-check with a few keyword searches on LinkedIn and check out a few profiles to see if there are people out there who do what you need to do.
4. Map out the future
Now that you know what you’re looking for, think about where this person might fit in your business. It may be really tempting to get new employees to join your business now, but will these individuals still be with you in 12 months? three years? five years? Just as you most likely have a roadmap and business plan for the future, employees like to know where their jobs can take them, so don’t overlook this step.
Think about the logical career progression of your new roles and map out a career path. You do not need to get bogged down in the details of each point on which the promotion will take place. But, it’s a good idea to have an idea of the responsibilities of each future advancement so that it’s clear from the start what goals your new hires need to accomplish.
5. Prepare for interviews and interviews
Once you have your shortlist of applicants, you now need to prepare for the interview and select the right person. Don’t think you can just wing it over a quick coffee, you need to present your business as a professional organization with no emotional attachment that someone would want to join. Just being an “exciting startup” won’t cut it—there are exciting startups around every corner these days—so think about what makes you unique and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Imagine that your closest competition will also be interviewing the same individuals, how are you going to sell your opportunity versus any other company your candidate may be talking to?
If you’ve already written a job description and scoped out career development for the role, you’re halfway there. Now you have to think about how to communicate your company values and culture to someone you’ve never met before. You have to do it in a way that makes them want to come on board with you. Commit the next few years of your career to helping you grow. As much as you interview candidates, they are going to interview you. So make sure to provide an excellent candidate experience. Do this so that they are not successful even if they do not get the job. They will stop telling family and friends what an exciting and promising business you have.
6. Making the right choice and executing it well
Once you’ve conducted your interviews, you now need to decide whether the candidate met with other team members, a co-founder, or met them in person a second time so that you could check your impressions. whether to make an offer or not.
The important things to consider in deciding whether a rental is right come down to a few factors. Firstly, his ability to play the role. Are you potentially recruiting raw talent that you will need to train? Or, is it someone with proven experience who can “hit the ground running”? One thing’s for sure, you can’t teach work ethic, so make sure they have it in abundance. Secondly, cultural fit is very important. Even if you’re the only one at this stage as the founder, think about the company culture and values you want your employees to embody. Make sure your new employees see eye to eye with you on this.
Ultimately, you want someone who is brimming with passion and enthusiasm for your business and brand. In the final interview, ask them if they can sell the opportunity back to you. This will quickly uncover whether or not someone has a genuine interest in joining your business. If they’re passionate and knowledgeable about your business (based on what they know so far), you’ve got yourself a great first hire. Just make sure the employment contract is ready to be sent within 24 hours. Don’t risk losing a star employee to the competition just because you forgot about this basic step.
Finding good employees can sometimes be difficult. It could be the job market. But it can also be your approach to getting hired. Use these steps to help you find the right first employee for your business. This will lay the foundation for your growing team and help you skyrocket the potential of your business.
This article was first published in 2016 but has been updated and expanded
Monthly Contributor: Simon is the founder of a specialist UK-based recruitment business that supports tech startups. He advocates a consultative approach to recruiting and blogs for the benefit of both employers and job seekers, as well as the experience of running a startup himself. He has a background in document editing and loves good coffee and his vinyl collection. Follow him on Twitter @sibenson_wg
One last step! Check your email to confirm your subscription and receive your free eBook! Thanks!
Business Opportunities Company Culture Featured Find Your Way Grow Your Business Leadership Productivity Your Mindset
Find Your Way Grow Your Business Lead Your Team Sales Your Mindset