Small Business, Talent Acquisition

Here’s How to Make Your First Hire

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As an entrepreneur, you’re not afraid of rolling up your sleeves and getting the tough stuff done. But there will come a point where you’ll need — or simply want — a helping hand. Wondering how to make your first hire? Read on.

According to Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender founder and author The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent, you’ll want to think about your workload when determining whether it’s time to bring on an employee. Ask yourself how many hours you are working compared with how many hours you would like to work, and whether you feel the stress of your workload. “If you don’t feel you have enough time, and it’s starting to impact your relationship with customers, it might be time to add staff,” Lauby points out.

Now that you know you need to hire help, Lauby says, it’s time to determine what that help will look like. “A work description is a good start,” she says. A description of the work you need done will help you decide whether you need an employee or a part-time freelancer.

[Related: 6 Traits of Great Job Descriptions]

Next, you will need to determine how much to pay — consider leveraging Glassdoor’s salary tool to see what people in similar positions are being paid or, you can turn to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lauby adds.

To attract top talent, you may want to “engage the services of a staffing company,” Lauby says. “They can help with screening applications and background checks.” Yes, there is a fee, but enlisting their help “allows the entrepreneur to focus on their business,” she says.

In anticipation of the flood of applications you’ll receive, “consider setting up an extra email account for job-related correspondence,” advises Lauby, who suggests you might name it careers@yourcompany.com. “That way, you can keep all of those emails in the same place.”

Make sure you acknowledge the receipt of every resume or application that you receive, Lauby says. “And let everyone know once you hire someone,” Lauby adds. Why? “This will allow you to stay organized.” Plus, she adds, “this is hopefully the first of many hires — so you want job candidates to leave with a good impression and a great candidate experience.”

[Related: How to Create a Best-in-Class Candidate Experience]

With application in hand — or on your computer screen — you want to make a good decision about who to bring in for an interview. That decision, Lauby says, “should be based on the job requirements” you established in your work description. “It seems obvious, but if you’re hiring for an administrative assistant, they need to have the ability to do word processing.”

One way to weed out unfit candidates is to ask behavioral-based interview questions, says Lauby. “The idea behind [these questions] is that past behavior is a good indicator of future performance,” she explains. “So, ask candidates questions that draw from their experience, such as ‘tell me about a time when you had to work with someone you didn’t really like.’”

Lastly, if you still need to find the perfect person, “tap into community resources that can help you find talent,” Lauby suggests. “It could make sense to contact your local workforce offices, economic development board or chamber of commerce. They often have job boards and networking meetings. Entrepreneurs making their first hire don’t have to do it alone.”

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