Hire your first employee

5 Actionable Tips For Your First Employee

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So you are at that point that you need to add someone to the team.

It is a big step, especially if it is your first team member. You want to make sure that it is a good add to the team, they feel valued, and you’re truly in it together.

But you might be wondering about how to know if it is the right decision, are they right for the position?

Are you overpaying?

Can they do what their resume said?

How do you know if they are doing a good job?

You’re not alone in these questions, we’ve all been there and had them.

Once you’ve hired a few great team members, you’ll start to see the patterns. Here are my top tips on how to hire the best.

1 - Have core deliverables identified

What is this person going to be doing? Let’s say you are hiring a marketing person, are you looking for SEO skills? Do they need to do any copywriting? How about inbound marketing and lead generation?

How will you know if they are on track or off-track? I’d recommend that you set a 90-day goal. Take the first two weeks to get them acclimated with what you are doing and up to speed on the client and project work. Then have touchpoints and goals set for the remainder of the 90 days. You’d want to present this checklist as part of the offer, so there are no surprises.

Does this position also require a budget above the salary? In the marketing example, are they going to want to do paid advertising? Has that been brought up in the interview or offer?

Make sure your expectations are crystal clear so that you don’t get someone on board and immediately have them questioning if you have a clue what you are doing.

2 - Take it slow

Don’t be in a rush to hire, or you’ll make mistakes that you wouldn’t otherwise. Imagine hiring quickly to fill a position only to find out in 60 days that you don’t need it, or you picked the wrong person. Even if you could handle the financial hit you’ve wasted the last 60 days and, more importantly, messed with someone’s livelihood.

Set a timeframe and give yourself the opportunity to have multiple interviews. The more you can find out about someone and their situation the better.

Think about all of the non-job-related factors, will the salary be enough to support them. If they are taking a pay cut to join your team, it is your responsibility to know if you are putting them in a bad spot.

The least you will know about someone is the first time you meet them so give yourself a chance to get to know them. Maybe there is an opportunity to work on a small project before making a full-time offer.

Pay attention to my fourth tip below, because of it, I’m able to hire without a formal application process. I don’t need to take cold resumes in and try to work them through the hiring process. I’m able to send a few Facebook messages or emails and get the first coffee or lunch meeting set up to talk about potential opportunities. Now this works because of a warm network and I don’t hire a ton of people. But if you can leverage your existing connections and incentivize referrals you might be able to be there soon.

3 - Focus on Culture

Before you open the position and start accepting applications, you should know what sort of environment or culture you want. It will help you when you start interviewing potential team members.

If you know that you want to keep a small team atmosphere no matter what and an otherwise perfect applicant that starts talking about mid-level management and large teams, you’ll know that it won’t be a great fit down the road.

But if you are a small team or solopreneur, and you know that they are excited about the opportunity to learn new things and wear five different hats it might be a right fit.

4 - Stay active in the community

Why try to hire from a job posting in the newspaper or online if you can attract the talent you need from your community? Now, this is not a quick solution but requires more of a farming mentality. Meaning you plant a seed, water it and watch it grow. So put in the time now to see the rewards in the next 6 or 12 months.

If your business works in the graphic design space, find a meetup in your city that focuses on the same topic as what you do. It will expose you to people from other companies that work in the same space as you do.

Simply by showing up, you’ll get to meet others that want to work in the graphic design industry and will quickly find out who is unhappy with their current employment and who is needing a new job.

5 - Automate what you can

If you don’t already have a pool of applicants that you can tap when you need to add staff why not leverage technology to help you from having to sort through hundreds of applicants.

You don’t need to have an overly complicated setup to help save you some time. We just use an email address from Google and use autoresponders to filter out those that can’t follow simple instructions.

For example, if we were hiring for a marketing position we would give the applicant a little hurdle such as:

If you are interested, please send an email to careers@joshchristy.com, pitching us three things you’d recommend for us to do to improve the site.

By not just asking for a resume we can quickly vet how much creativity the applicant would have. However, we won’t see the application just yet.

They’d get a canned response from our email asking them for their linkedin.com or facebook.com profile/page. We can let Google filter out those that can’t follow instructions and filter out at least 30% of the applicants.

It may not seem like much but if you get 100 applicants for a position being able to get past those that can’t follow simple instructions is a big time saver.

What tips or questions would you have for hiring your first employee?