As a small business owner, the first employees you hire are critical. These individuals need to share your vision for the company because they will establish the culture and organizational structure that shape its future. A word of caution, however…. we suggest that you not hire someone that reminds you of yourself, no matter how amazing you are. Regardless of the role, it is important that your first hire bring new and different skills to the table and expand the strengths that you offer and minimize your areas of weakness. At this critical stage, many hats will be worn by very few individuals. Your best strategy is to hire the person who can wear some of the hats you are currently not wearing.
Do you have the skills to make an unbiased hiring decision? If not, get help! Help can come in many shapes and sizes. Getting the right help at this stage will save you time, money and heartache down the road.
- Who – Is the ideal candidate?
- What – Do you need? (Tools)
- When – Do you need them?
- Where – Will you find them?
- Why – Failing to plan is planning to fail
Who is the Ideal Candidate?
Get clear on the type of person you need. Create a job outline for the role, including as much detail as you currently have about the job duties, experience, skills and qualifications required. This does not have to be fancy. It is intended simply to ensure you have the clarity you need. We suggest hiring for cultural fit, then for skill.
What Do You Need? (Tools)
- Analyze the job(s)
- Create some interview questions – Fit & Skill
- Include others in the interview process
- Personality/Skill Assessment
- Employment Agreement/Mini Handbook (vacation, sick time etc.)
- New Employee Orientation
Once the interviews are complete and you know who you want to hire, the next step is critical in showing a prospective employee what HR practices you have in place. Do you have an employment agreement, a handbook, benefits etc.? Even if you are a small entrepreneur hiring your first employee, there is no excuse for not taking the time to put these necessary practices in place – they can set the tone for the overall employee/employer relationship. What tone do you want to set in an employee driven market?
When Do You Need Them? (Personnel)
- Future Project – Personnel Planning
- Proactive vs Reactive
- The Help Wanted sign should never come down!
Where Will You Find Them?
- The Internet (Craig’s List is Free)
- Creative out-of-the-box thinking
- Networking – do you have an employee referral program?
- Demographics, aging population (Many retiring boomers do not want to fully retire, do you have a role that might fit them?)
- Immigrants – Most new immigrants have great education and experience. There are many organizations to help connect employers with this skilled population of workers.
- What do they do in their spare time, and where are they?
Why Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
- The current Labour market favours the employee and the good ones are looking for companies with solid HR practices
- You want the best of the best
Not having a system in place may cause reactive hires that create more problems in the long run.
Whether you are hiring your first employee or your one-hundredth, think about how you want your company to be perceived. How do your job postings, interview questions, employee handbook and other materials reflect what your company is about – its values and vision of the future? How can you give your potential employees the clearest possible picture of what it is like to work at your company, what you expect of them and what they can expect from you? Could existing employees assist in this process by meeting with short-listed candidates? Would a tour of your workplace help candidates to picture themselves working there? These are details that are, in many cases, easy to arrange but often overlooked.
We know of employees who have interviewed for roles, started, and on the first day left because they realized the company was not what they had been led to believe. Others stay on for a while and then eventually leave. The more information you can provide up-front, the better your hires tend to be. Pointing out the potential disadvantages as well as the advantages of the position can help candidates self-select out of the hiring process if they feel they wouldn’t be a good fit.