Hiring Your First Employee? Here’s What You Need to Know

By Jennifer Noble | Aug 10, 2018

The development and growth of a small business is similar to the sculpting process. Only after countless hours of chipping away at a lump of clay does the artwork shine through.


For many small businesses, the 'chipping away' part is the real problem. A small business can demand an almost unbelievable amount of work. The sheer effort it requires to go from nothing to something to something successful is more than daunting, as it often overwhelms those who attempt to start their own business.


If you are a business owner reading this article, you are probably in one of two categories. Maybe you may find the workload to be unbearable and you now feel you need help, or, the demand for your goods or services is too great and you need help to maximize your potential profits.


For either scenario, here is what you need to know before you hire your first employee.


Hiring your first employee: the ground work

It does not matter which of the previous scenarios you find yourself in. You need to hire an employee, your first employee specifically, and you need to know what to expect or how to go about it.


According to QuickBooks, the first thing you need to do is learn state and federal laws on payroll taxes and unemployment insurance. You additionally need to figure out how much money the second employee would need to make to cover their pay and tax liability.


Entrepreneur provides a different set of considerations. Entrepreneur advocates screening for psychological issues, checking handwriting, checking all of the references a candidate provides and, finally, drug testing.


Drug testing a potential employee might be a bit of a sticky concept, given changing attitudes towards casual drug usage. When it comes to marijuana, specifically, many feel that it is basically harmless; some also feel that drug testing is invasive. If these attitudes describe you, you might find this article sobering. (Pun absolutely intended.)


Hiring your first employee: selecting the right candidate

Now that you have the basic information on what to look for before hiring, who should you hire?


First, consider if your professional network might have an available candidate. Do you know someone you think highly of at another firm, or is there a family friend or relative you think could fulfill the role? Start with the familiar first and see if you can find someone that way.


If not, you will want to post your job on a website that gets a ton of traffic. Indeed, Monster, etc; check to see what job-sites are getting the most applications at any particular time, as activity always fluctuates. Be careful: you might end up getting hit with so many resumes that you cannot read them all.


You will need to make sure your job listing is appealing to potential candidates. What is the position? What are the benefits of the position? Are you offering a higher rate of pay? If not, are you offering experience that can advance a career and offset the lower pay? Ask yourselves these questions. Also honestly assess how much latitude and freedom you will be comfortable offering this employee. Will you hover over their shoulder, or will you let them do whatever needs to be done with minimal supervision?


Identify a large pool of potential candidates that you are interested in hiring. After you have done so, begin a process of phone interviews. You will want to come up with 15-20 minutes worth of questions, comments and conversations. Start by telling them a bit about your company, the position you are offering and then focus on the candidate. Judge how quickly the candidates get back to you, how their grammar is when they respond and how they conduct themselves in the phone interview. Did they care enough to get prepared for the phone interview? Did they call on time? Were they able to answer questions sufficiently?


The phone interview should help you eliminate candidates. From this stage you can move to in-person interviews. Avoid questions that can lose you a candidate but earn you an unfair hiring lawsuit.


At this point in the process, hiring is simple. You are only looking for three things in potential candidates: do they want to do the job, can they do the job and will you enjoy working with them? Those are the only criteria you need to worry about once you get the final stage of interviews, assuming you have checked references, drug tested and all of the other previous steps.


Make sure whoever you hire will be a good fit for you on a personal level. It will only be the two of you, so you need to ensure you will not hate working with one another. An unhappy work environment is a cancer in business. Make sure you get someone who you can easily work with.


Do you need to hire someone?

The gig economy is real. This article in the New York Times might indicate that the "gig economy" is not as big as assumed but it actually indicates something quite different. The world is more connected than ever, yet fewer people are engaged in 'non-traditional arraignments?' Bluntly, there is no shortage of freelance workers, there is a shortage of freelance work.


In other words, you will be spoiled for choice of qualified candidates if you choose to hire short-term, temporary, remote or freelance workers to assist your business.


The first question you need to ask yourself is simple: do you need to hire an employee, or can you get by with a freelance arraignment? Do not trap yourself in the traditional mindset of growing a business and hiring an employee if you can retain your agility, mobility and flexibility by going a non-traditional route.


With freelance work, you can get only what you need without worrying about employment laws, payroll or any of the other headaches.



If you still feel you need to hire someone, congratulations and good luck! Congratulations on creating a business that demands more of you than you can give and good luck finding the perfect candidate to help you grow that business further!

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