When you’re launching a new business, the most important employee—other than yourself—is the first one you hire. Your first employee will serve as an example to all subsequent employees you hire, so you want to make sure that person is a model for hard work ethic and passion for the company. You’ll need a driven staff that’s willing to wear multiple hats and work long hours, so make sure you hire a great first employee that’s going to inspire everyone else.
Here are 5 important tips for hiring your startup’s first employee.
1. Check Your Professional Network
At the beginning of the hiring process, most employers immediately post job listings on an online job board. Online job boards are a great way to gather a pool of qualified applicants for your company. But before you post a job listing, you should look carefully around your professional network and see if one of your social media networks can function as matchmaker to find good employees.
Ask your friends, business partners, and clients if they know anyone who might be a great fit for your open position, and seek out professionals who are associated with businesses that you admire. Wouldn’t you rather hire someone that’s recommended by a trusted associate rather than a random person you find over the internet? That’s the benefit to hiring from your network. Be sure to crawl through your professional networking profile and look for the perfect first employee before you turn to job boards.
2. Post a Great Job Listing
If you can’t find a great job candidate in your professional network, now it might be time for you to turn to an online job board. The benefit of using a good online job board is that the website will usually have a program that will sort through all the submitted applications and provide you with the top resumes to review—this is really helpful if you get dozens of applications (which you probably will).
When you post your job listing, try and be as transparent as possible. Be honest about the job requirements and compensation, and be sure to emphasize any “must-have skills” that applicants should have. The more thorough your job listing is, the more likely it is you’ll be able to get that perfect applicant to apply.
3. Run Background Checks
Always run a background check on every job candidate you’re going to hire, whether it’s your first employee or your hundredth. A background check will tell you whether or not your job candidate has a criminal history and if they’ve really been employed at the companies they say they have. Obviously, you don’t want to hire someone who’s lied about their employment history, and you probably don’t want to hire anyone who’s been convicted for violent crimes, fraud, or theft.
If you’re launching any kind of financial company, you might want to run a credit check for employment, too. A credit check will give you an applicant’s credit score. If you’re hiring a CFO or financial expert, you might not want to hire someone who has a bad credit score—that might indicate the person has bad financial decision making and habits.
4. Have Them Audition
If you really want to gauge whether someone is right for the job, have them “audition” and demonstrate their skills. For example, if you’re going to hire a web designer, have them draft a sample webpage for your company. Be sure to pay the web designer a small fee for the time they put into it—it’s the ethical thing to do, and the small expense may well be worth finding that person that’s got the right skill set for your business.
5. Plan Compensation
You’ll need to figure out how much to pay your first employee. Obviously, you should take a peek at the marketplace and see what similar jobs are paying for that position—you’re not going to draw the best applicants if you’re offering wages below the market standard.
Also, be sure you offer different types of compensation as the business grows. Working for a startup is more difficult and time-consuming than working for an established business, but employees are more willing to deal with all that startup stress if they’re going to be eligible for promotions, pay raises, stock options, and other benefits as the company becomes larger and more successful.
If you’re going to hire the best first employee for your startup, all you’ve got to do is:
- Check your professional network
- Post a great job listing
- Run background checks
- Run auditions
- Plan adequate compensation