How to Hire Your Startup’s First Employee

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Hiring the first employee is one of the biggest milestones for any startup as it signifies growth. However, it also means you are entrusting someone else with your company and hoping they perform their jobs as they should. Your first hire can determine the success or failure of your business, which makes it necessary to start on the right foot. To help you carry out your first hiring process successfully, below are a few tips you can use to get the best talent in your team.

1. Evaluate Your Finances

Hiring an employee comes with financial obligations in terms of salaries and benefits. You will also incur additional costs that come with employing a new staff member, including recruitment and payroll fees, office equipment, and training expenses to get your employee started. Before hiring a new employee, assess your financial situation to find out how much you can afford so your new staff doesn’t strain your business. It also helps you decide whether you can provide both salary and benefits to your new employee.

Keep in mind that your new employee will be helping you build your business. If paying a salary and benefits is not financially feasible, you can offer your new staff equity, especially if your business is venture-funded. You can also hire your first employee on a contract basis before offering them a permanent job. Regardless of how much you can afford, it is advantageous to give new employees learning and career growth opportunities.

2. Consider Employee Potential

An employee’s ability to perform their duties is the first quality you will be looking for in your new hire. However, also consider employee potential when instead of only focusing on track record or experience.  Hire an individual whose passions and interests align with yours, as well as one who is enthusiastic about whatever they do. Note that skill and passion can unlock anyone’s potential and propel them to perform exceptionally well at their duties, translating to business growth.

If you feel an employee can attain full potential in your company, you are better off hiring them instead of considering only their credentials or previous experience. Also, an individual with intellectual curiosity and a collaborative spirit who has your vision can help you identify opportunities and steer your startup towards the path to success.

3. Administer an Aptitude Test

An interview is a crucial step in the recruitment process and helps you establish a candidate’s suitability for your startup. When hiring your first employee, you shouldn’t stop at the oral interview level without evaluating their practical skills. Consider administering an aptitude test to assess the candidate’s skills depending on the role. For example, you can ask a candidate applying for a sales position to sell you something.

Asking your new hires to showcase their skills by solving real-life problems can tell you a lot about a candidate before you hire them. Not only does it give you a sneak peek of their abilities, but also their creativity in solving their work-related problems.

4. Develop an Onboarding Program

Develop a good onboarding program for your new hires to familiarize them with the company culture, vision, and expectations.  You can do this in a series of sessions as soon as you hire your first employee. A clear onboarding process ensures that all your employees understand their roles and set expectations immediately they join your team.

Note that most professionals prefer working as part of the team instead of being treated like an employee that has to take directives from you, go through evaluations, and get paid for their work. Therefore, allow your employees to work and learn alongside you while experiencing your startup’s ups and downs. Doing so gives your employee a holistic working experience, allows them a chance to learn from the innovators, and makes them feel appreciated.

5. Take Care of the Legal Aspects

Before you hire your first employee, know about your legal responsibilities and prepare accordingly. Some of the legal aspects of recruitment include tax liabilities, rules about employee benefits. Also,  familiarize yourself with regulations about background checks on employees as well as those governing interview questions. Note that the law prohibits employers from asking about details such as information about protected characteristics like race.

You should also prepare an employment contract and any other necessary legal document before hiring. Doing so offers you legal protection if the new hire doesn’t turn out as you expect, leading to legal problems and lawsuits. It is advisable to hire an employment lawyer to help you understand all the laws you need to know that govern your relationship with your employees.

It is advisable to hire your first employee as early as possible. Doing so reduces your responsibilities and helps you get more things done faster. With the above tips, you can go about the hiring process the right way and set your startup on a good foundation.