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Ready to Hire Your First Employee? 4 Decisions to Make First


One of an entrepreneur’s most exciting moments is getting to hire their first employee. It’s a sign that your business is getting established and is ready to grow, and it’s your first foray into teambuilding, which you can use to surround yourself with talented, passionate people.

However, before you jump into the hiring process, you’ll need to make some important decisions about who you’re going to hire—and how they’re going to fit into your organization.

Key Decisions to Make First

Make sure you’re able to answer these important questions before you begin the hiring process:

  1. Employee or independent contractor? First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to hire a full-time employee or an independent contractor. Each type of hire has different legal requirements, such as how they can be paid or worked and how they’re covered under workers’ comp insurance. In general, independent contractors are less expensive and more flexible, but also less reliable. They’re ideal if you’re still in the early stages of building your team, or if you aren’t sure what you’ll need in the future. Employees are pricier, but steadier and more reliable, and are ideal if you want someone permanently by your side as your business grows. It’s possible to have both types of hires on your team eventually.
  2. Talent or experience? Your ideal candidate is probably going to be someone with both talent and experience, but ultimately, it may be better to optimize seeking one over the other. Experienced individuals with limited talent will be able to solve a wide variety of problems, and may have more existing contacts, but they’re also going to be much more expensive. Talented individuals with limited experience will have growing pains as they cut their teeth, but they’ll be far more affordable, and may be able to bring a spark of creative genius that even experienced candidates couldn’t replicate.
  3. Short-term or long-term optimization? You’ll also need to consider whether you’re hiring someone to fill a foundational position in your organization, or whether this is a duct tape fix designed to help you through your earliest stages of growth. If you hire someone for the long-term, they may be more specialized and less flexible, restricting the responsibilities they can handle as you go through a period of ambiguous growth. However, they’ll be an investment that pays off for years. If you hire someone for the short-term, they’ll be more flexible and accommodating, but may not have a place in your organization for long, ultimately tasking you with the burden of replacing them with a long-term candidate eventually.
  4. Perks or pay? If you want to attract a high-quality candidate, you’ll need to make a high-quality offer. In some cases, that means offering a higher salary than your competition. In others, that means offering better perks. Salaries are usually simpler to offer, but they’re going to put a bigger burden on your budget, which is often problematic for young startups. Perks offer you more flexibility, because they can come in the form of anything from health insurance to flexible hours and unlimited vacation time.

Beginning the Hiring Process

When you’re confident you know what you’re going to look for, you can take the next steps of the process:

  • Comply with local laws. There are many laws governing how you can hire employees and what you need to do once they’re hired, at the federal, state, and local level. For example, you’ll need to set up tax withholding for your full-time employees, and make sure your job requirements fall squarely in what’s allowable by labor laws.
  • Establish a timeline. Like with any type of goal setting, it’s important to have a timeline in place. Have a clear idea when you want the employee to start working, and create a plan that allows you to meet that deadline comfortably.
  • Write the job description. Next, write a concise job description that will appeal to the type of people you want to hire. Include the core responsibilities this position will entail, as well as the most important skills you’re looking for.
  • Start scouting. Finally, you can start scouting. Start by networking and asking your business contacts if there’s anyone they have in mind for the job; networking is a powerful and reliable way to get a qualified candidate. From there, you can use social networking and online platforms to look for candidates on your own, or place ads to establish an inbound stream of applicants.

Hiring your first employee is exciting, but it’s also an important investment for your business—and one you don’t want to fumble. Spend some time thinking about what you truly need, and start building your team with the perfect candidate.

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