How to Make Your First Hire


Inside Candidly

June 14, 2022

Making the decision to hire your first employee is an important step, but it can be hard to know where to even begin!

That's why we teamed up with our partners at CV-Library to create a step-by-step guide for making your very first hire.

While you might be desperate to get started with your hiring, it’s crucial that you focus on getting your process right first.

After all, a poor hire could have a disastrous impact on your business and you want to avoid that at all costs.

1. Consider the skills you're going to need

When hiring employee number 1, you need to really think about what skills you need.  Your first employee is likely to be an all-rounder – someone who can be a jack-of-all-trades on top of their regular role.

For example, you may require someone to juggle sales, marketing and some of the administration work, or maybe you need help with the financial side of your business but also want someone prepared to be involved with HR activity. It's important to look for versatility when you're only a small business.

When you’ve worked out what skills will drive your business forward, decide if you want someone on a full-time or part-time basis, and consider how much you can afford to pay them. Remember, they need to be affordable.

2. Write a clear job description

Now you know what you’re looking for in your first employee, it’s time to write your job description. The job description, or job advert, needs to clearly explain who you are; what the role will involve; and the skills and qualifications you require.

To structure this, start with a strong job title. This needs to describe the position and should be kept relatively simple. You can decide whether you want to include salary details in your job advert; this could be an approximate amount; a salary bracket; or, if you don’t want to disclose it, you don’t have to (although we recommend you do).

Check out our ultimate job posting guide here.

After this information, you should write the main description. In the first paragraph, you can say a little bit about your company.

Then, describe the main duties and responsibilities the position will involve and bullet point these for more clarity. Again, list the skills and experience you are looking for in the same way, bullet pointing your requirements.

3. Advertise on the right platforms

It’s important that you’re using the right platforms to advertise your vacancy and get in front of the right candidates. Job boards can be your best friend here! They offer a wide pool of talent and the applicants come straight to you.

With sites like CV-Library, you can also search through millions of CVs to find the best candidates for your business. This is particularly useful if you’re hiring for your first employee, or multiple vacancies at once.

Finally, why not shout about your new vacancy on social media? Sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook reach a whole host of previously inaccessible candidates.

4. Shortlist CVs and applications

After you’ve come up with a compelling job advert and advertised it in the right places, you should hopefully have a pile of applications to look through.

Now it’s time to create a shortlist. This stage is about ruling out those who don't fit your requirements and deciding who is right for your company.

But, before you start this, you need to decide on the essential and ideal criteria for your first employee.

While it may be great to find someone with years of experience, remember that soft skills such as work ethic, motivation and enthusiasm are also important attributes to identify in a potential worker.

If you’re in a position where you have many good candidates to choose from, don’t overdo it. Interviews can be time-consuming, so be realistic and cut down the list to just the best of the bunch.

5. Conduct great interviews

It’s no secret that interviews can be nerve-racking for candidates; however, as the interviewer, you might feel nervous too. Especially if it’s your first time. Preparation is key here, so make sure you decide what questions to ask in advance.

Avoid cliché questions that won’t tell you anything useful about the interviewee, such as, ‘if you were a colour what would you be?'.

Instead, ask questions like, ‘what interests you most about the position?’ or, ‘what skill would you like to improve on and why?’. These questions can help you discover a candidate’s main goals and strengths.

During the interview, you might become swept up in the moment and forget to take notes. Unfortunately, after a few interviews, you may find it difficult to remember the difference between Sally and Sarah - who both had two years experience.

To help, write a checklist of the skills and qualities you’re looking for. At Candidly, we call this a scorecard, and we offer this as part of our service. A scorecard helps you prioritise your thoughts during the interview and gives you more time to listen to the candidate.

Plus, always have a copy of their CV at the ready that you can scribble over!

6. Select your candidate

It's now time to decide who’s the right pick for you and your company.

This can be difficult, especially when you’re stuck between a couple of potentially great candidates, so you need to weigh up everything that’s important to you about your first employee. Make sure they align with your company goals and trust your initial instincts.

Once you’ve decided, make them an offer they can’t refuse. Go over the benefits of working for a start-up. Remember, the career opportunities and chance to get hands-on experience are invaluable selling points.

7. Meet the legal requirements

You’re officially a new employer – congratulations!

But there are a few legal steps you need to take first. You need to register with HMRC as an employer, provide pay statements every month and have insurance.

It’s essential that you also provide a safe working environment and give employees holiday entitlement, a pension scheme and minimum wage. And remember, it’s your responsibility to check that your employee has the legal right to work in the UK.

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