Your Ultimate Guide To Hiring Your First Employee

Your Ultimate Guide To Hiring Your First Employee


The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Your First Employees at a Startup scaled - Your People Partners

A startup company is only as successful as its employees. If you are working on building your own company, you will require a team all employees dedicated to your brand and ready to help you grow. Hiring your first employee is a significant step toward a prosperous future for your organization.

When hiring your first employee, you will likely have many questions about what to look for in a worker and how to identify qualified individuals. If you are curious about how to hire your first employee, worry no more. This article describes everything you should know about hiring your first employee for a startup company to guarantee that your organization gets off on the right foot.

What Does it Feel Like to Hire Your First Employee?

Hiring your first employee is a daunting task, particularly when you are just getting your startup running. Before searching through applications and making a job offer, you might wonder what it feels like to hire your first employee.

Despite the somewhat nerve-racking process, hiring your first employee for a startup company can be incredibly rewarding. You might feel some natural anxieties about choosing the right candidate or selecting someone who isn’t as qualified as they initially seem. The experience is filled with uncertainty for many managers but is equally fulfilling when executed correctly.

As you embark on this unique journey with your organization, search for employees that share similar passions for your brand. A comprehensive hiring strategy is essential to making the right decision for your first employee. However, if you don’t get it right the first time, all hope is not lost. With any startup, trial and error is a part of the process. As long as you’re prepared for what is to come and understand what to look for in your first employee, you set yourself up for success in the future.

How do Solo Founders Recruit Their First Employees?

The key to a successful recruitment process for a solo founder is focusing on what your organization lacks. Your business will likely need employees for many different functions. Rather than hire a handful of employees for different teams and tasks, focus on the skills you lack as a founder. Prioritise the area of your company that is integral to your overall success and that you may need more skills in, and begin there.

Ultimately, seek employees based on more than how well they can perform the tasks that you already excel in. While you might be able to operate well on your own, a solo business is only sustainable with skilled employees. Right now, your focus should be on what can get you sales. Focus on the tasks you spend too much time on, and look for someone who can fulfil these positions. By doing this, you can shift your focus back to sales and grow an audience for your business.

Solo founders may enlist help from a recruitment specialist to find employees that match their startup organization. Because hiring your first employees is often confusing, turning to experts can be a great help. A skilled recruiter will help you identify the people you want working for your organisation and devise a strategy to find qualified individuals.

How Does a Bootstrapped Startup Hire the First Employee?

Many startup companies practice bootstrapping, meaning their resources are built entirely from personal equipment, savings, and internal resources rather than external ones. A bootstrapped startup is likely shorter on funds, making it difficult to afford to hire employees.

When determining how to hire your first part-time employee, you must consider what you can realistically afford and build your company’s resources before moving on to potential hires. There are specific steps to take when bootstrapping your startup and looking to hire new employees.

In the beginning stages of your startup, your funds will come from your savings, early sales, and customers to keep your organization operating. You can consider other business expenses as your revenue grows, such as employees. By meeting your current operating expenses, you can move on to securing the equipment and skilled staff necessary to keep your company thriving. In this stage, you may also expand and begin taking out loans to fund your business further.

What Do I Need to Hire My First Employee?

To hire your first employee successfully, you will need several resources to navigate the process. Before deciding who to hire, you must follow specific legal procedures to guarantee that you will manage employees legally and according to government regulations. Managing employees begins with the following steps.

  1. Determine how much you will pay employees. Employers are required to pay at least the UK’s national minimum wage.
  2. Ensure that candidates are legally allowed to work in the UK. This step might involve other employment checks.
  3. Determine if you need to apply for a DBS check to access a candidate’s criminal record, as some fields require these checks for lawful employment. For example, you must complete a DBS check if you are employing candidates in security positions or if your organization works with vulnerable people.
  4. Secure employers’ liability insurance before you hire any candidate.
  5. Provide your selected candidates with a detailed description of the job, including all terms and conditions of employment. Anyone you intend to employ for more than one month must have a written statement of employment.
  6. Communicate your decision to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and register as an authorized employer. You can complete this step up to four weeks before you pay your new employees.
  7. Determine whether you must automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.

Once you have legal proceedings in order, you can move on to preparing for interviewing and selecting employees for your startup. Below is a breakdown of everything you will need during the hiring process and how to identify suitable candidates.

Preparing to Hire

Preparing to hire a candidate is a significant step toward building a team of employees for your startup organization. There are many factors to consider as you prepare to hire. Before identifying what you should look for in candidates, consider the following factors you must prepare before making a confident decision on a new hire.

1. Know When it’s Time to Hire

Taking a step toward growing your business requires you to identify the signs that it’s time to hire your first employee. If you are curious about how to know when to hire your first employee, a few indicators tell you it’s time to find candidates.

  • Your business would benefit from additional expertise.
  • There are areas in your organization where you do not excel or feel unable to complete solo.
  • Specific tasks are taking time away from growing your customer base further.
  • You have begun turning down work because your workload is too heavy to complete alone.
  • Your organization can benefit from branching out into other services to increase revenue.
  • Your customers are dissatisfied with the quality of your customer service or products.
  • Your products and services are not high-quality or not the quality you are accustomed to producing.
  • You have no time for a personal break or vacation.
  • You have enough work available to keep employees busy.

2. Know What You Can Afford

Before moving forward with the hiring process, you must ask: how much does it cost to hire your first employee? Knowing what you can realistically afford is crucial to making the right decision and determining the correct number of hires. For startup organizations, budgeting is everything. Simply put, you can’t expect your organization to succeed with new employees if you spend all your funds on hiring.

Remember that you are not just preparing funds for hiring your first in for you, but for sustaining employment after they are hired. There are multiple factors to consider before hiring your first employee, such as essential budgeting factors.

  • Calculate the costs for recruiting, training, onboarding, payroll, and benefits per employee.
  • Consider hiring interns, part-time employees, contractors, or temps if you pay over 30% of your gross revenue to full-time employee payroll.
  • Maintain your employee’s salary at an additional 20% of what you have saved for hiring to cover unexpected expenses and cash flow fluctuations.
  • Budget for additional employee benefits you are offering. As of December 2022, a company of 5 staff with an Employee Assistance Program and Health Cash Plan can budget for £10 to £40 per employee per month, depending on the level of cover.

3. Know Your Vision

Before choosing the right hire for your startup, you must identify candidates with a vision similar to yours. Identify your long-term goals in the visions that you have for your organization, and prepare to share these visions with anyone you interview. Ideally, you will want a candidate that believes in the vision you have for the organization and has similar goals in their career as your own.

Sharing your vision is essential to finding people skilled in your domain and helps you identify experienced and skilled candidates in the areas your company seeks.

What to Look For the Best Candidate?

If you are determining when to hire your first employee, consider everything you need to look for in the ideal candidate. Certain traits may indicate whether Is candida is qualified to become an employee for your organization. As you move forward, prioritize some of the following traits in each interviewee.

Experience in the Same or Related Fields

When hiring the first employee for your organization, you should seek candidates with experience in your field or a field closely related to your work. Startup businesses often benefit from hiring individuals with more experience in their field. For instance, if you need help with the customer support aspect of your organization, hiring someone highly skilled and experienced in customer support services can help you retain your customers and organize your business to foster growth in the future.

Education Relevant to the Position

Along with prioritizing job experience when hiring employees for your startup, guarantee that you look into each interviewee’s education experience. Candidates may have educational experience in a field related to your organization which makes them more qualified than other candidates without this educational experience.

Leadership Skills

Candidates you consider for your startup should have leadership skills suitable to your organization. While knowledge and experience in your field help hire qualified candidates, your employees should all have unique leadership abilities that instil confidence in you upon hiring. Ideally, you will find a candidate with experience managing other people but who is comfortable following your lead.

During interviews, consider asking candidates about their ideal role or how they envision themselves in the company’s future. Candidates with managerial experience or who hope to take on managerial positions in the future likely have confidence in their leadership skills and ability to help your organization grow, which will shine through their work.

Self-Driven Workers

Successful startups are hard to come across–this is evident when you consider that around 90% of startups fail, with 20% failing in the first year of operation and another 50% fail within the first five years. Therefore, you must consider hiring candidates who show themselves to be self-driven workers. Your first hires are essential to building a foundation for success in your organization. In the early stages of any organization, employees will have to be self-driven to navigate the new, expanding environment of the business.

A successful founder of a startup organization will understand the importance of finding candidates that can determine effective routes to reach the goals you set out for them. They hire people who are driven in their work. With this drive and passion, you may be able to identify new avenues for growth and fall into the trap that many startups do.

Collaborative Team Players

Your organization is more likely to succeed if you have a team of employees open to collaborating. Determine a candidate’s collaboration skills during the interview process. Along with leadership skills in a group setting, the individuals you hire for your startup business should be willing to work with others toward a shared goal.

Writing a Job Description

Job descriptions play a crucial role in hiring the right candidate for your company. To ensure candidates are well-informed about the position, it’s essential to have a clear, concise, and accurate job description before the interview. Follow specific guidelines, such as using an accurate job title to avoid confusion. Keep the description detailed, outlining expectations, employment type, and other relevant information. While simplicity in the title is crucial for online searches, a comprehensive job description attracts well-prepared and qualified candidates, providing a better understanding of your organization’s expectations.

An adequate job description must follow a few specific guidelines. First, ensure that your job description has an accurate job title to eliminate possible confusion with candidates. Rather than making a wordy job title, keep the title accurate and concise while mentioning keywords and information relevant to the applicant. Most candidates apply for jobs online and can filter jobs based on specific titles or preferences. Therefore, keep everything transparent and use only a few words so you can still appear in a filtered search.

While you can keep the job title simple, your job description should have more details to clarify the expectations of the position and the type of employment offered. Though the job title might initially draw candidates to your organization, a high-quality description will show potential employees whether they can meet your expectations.

Ensure that your job description provides appropriate information about your organization, including the starting salary, schedule, employment type, and responsibilities expected from the candidate. List everything you will need from a candidate for them to qualify for the position, and include possible benefits and wages. While you might worry that too many details will push candidates away from your application, more details make it likely that the people who apply for your organization are prepared and qualified to take on the responsibilities of the role.

Finding Candidates

Identify the resources at your disposal for finding candidates suitable for your organization. While posting job listings with detailed descriptions on job board sites is a wise place to begin, finding candidates goes beyond these platforms and extends into various connections you have with others or resources you can access.

Look at Your Network (but don’t stop there)

Begin your search by looking for candidates within your network. For instance, if you’ve worked in this field before and know individuals who have worked in your field or similar fields, you do not have to worry about finding someone qualified for the position. You may find candidates in your network who are looking for a position or know someone with experience who would benefit from applying to your organization. By hiring within your network, you can onboard employees with at least some experience and skills you are looking for in your first hire.

Consider Social Media

Another resource for finding qualified candidates for your startup company is social media. Platforms like LinkedIn are essential for many organizations seeking employees to help operate their startups. Additionally, if you have a decent following on other social media platforms, consider informing your followers about open positions for your organization.

Contact Investors

If your startup business has investors, consider turning to these individuals to find employees. Investors often have a network of candidates suitable for your industry and can recommend people who will help manage your organization and grow with your company.

Go Back to the Job Boards

While job boards may be more hectic than other means of recruiting hires, they are a resource for finding and identifying candidates that meet the expectations you have for your organization. Therefore, if you still need to list your position on job boards or seek out candidates on job boards, consider taking a deep dive into these platforms.

Interviewing Candidates

After preparing for interviews, start meeting qualified candidates for your job opening. Before choosing interviewees, check their qualifications to ensure they’re suitable for the position. Analyze resumes and cover letters, looking for formatting issues, gaps in employment, or errors that may indicate a lack of seriousness.

Once interviews are scheduled, get ready for a professional discussion. Some organizations start with a shorter phone or video interview, covering basic job details. This can include discussing qualifications, job requirements, and salary with a potential hire.

If the initial interview goes well, schedule in-person interviews to ensure you’re hiring the right person. In-person interviews help assess a candidate’s skills, confidence, and qualifications for the role. During these interviews, focus on important topics with the candidate.

  • The candidate’s current career goals
  • Their personality and what drives them
  • Experience in a small company (versus experience in a corporate)
  • Relevant skills
  • Prior experience in a related field
  • Unique strengths and weaknesses the candidate feels they have
  • Notable accomplishments that make a candidate qualified for the position

Before making a final decision, check with a potential hire’s references to guarantee that they are capable and prepared to take on the responsibilities of this role. If they have a strong work ethic, their history and references will represent this and instil confidence in your final decision.

Making a Decision

Once you have collected the information mentioned above, you can decide who to hire for your organization. Your first employee will contribute significantly to the success and growth of your startup. Each candidate will have unique strengths and weaknesses that should contribute to your final decision. Take your time, and avoid rushing into a decision. When you allow yourself space to reflect on each candidate, you can make a confident decision and set yourself up for success with new employees.

Employees can make a huge difference in your organization. For instance, startups can increase their salaries by up to 60% by adding ten qualified employees to help the organization grow.

Onboarding New Employees

Use the knowledge you have collected and your new hires to begin the onboarding process. A comprehensive onboarding process will guarantee that your new hires have the experiences and skills necessary to integrate into your organization and help you grow. After a successful onboarding, your company will begin to thrive and expand in ways you never imagined. By preparing yourself for possible challenges or obstacles, you can have a smooth onboarding process and transition new employees into full-time work.

Find the Best Candidates with Your People Partners

Hiring your first employee is a daunting task that you must be prepared for. If you are still determining whether you are selecting the best candidates or want expert advice to build your organization, the recruiters at Your People Partners can help. Your People Partners will help you identify the top candidates for your organization and determine talent that will guarantee success. Contact the expert recruiters at Your People Partners today to get started on building your startup business.

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Helen Sanders Managing Director and Chief People Partner
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