Employing Your First Staff Member; Three Things to Consider

employeesGrowing your small business can be a big ask, especially since you still need to keep your fledgling enterprise on track while finding and bringing new employees up to speed. However, if you’ve reached the point where you are spending too much time on the non-critical stuff, can’t keep up with demand, or don’t have some of the skills needed to take the next step, it’s time to reach for the calculator and figure out if an extra pair of hands can be justified.

Before you begin to recruit, here are three things to consider:

1. Do you really need to hire someone?

With the rise of the gig economy, and many more people happy to work on a freelance basis, you could be better off building a network of people you can call on if you’ve a particular gap you need to fill. According to research commissioned by Upwork, more than one in three U.S. workers are now freelancing, and in the UK, government stats show that an increasing number of people are opting to be self-employed.

If the back-up you are looking for doesn’t need to be physically close at hand, you have a whole lot more options to choose from. Workforce matching sites, like Upwork and Toptal can help you tap into talent across the globe.

Taking this route can save a lot of the time and paperwork associated with taking on employees, although you’ll still need to screen and manage your freelancers to get the best match for your business – and the best out of them.

2. What do you stand for?

Still want to take the plunge and become an employer? The job market is hugely competitive, especially if you are looking for staff with skills in high demand. For example, according to Undercover Recruiter, 90% of tech startups have trouble finding the right talent.

If you are to win the “war for talent”, you’ll need to know what you stand for – and what makes the opportunity to work for you a really attractive option to your ideal employee. That’s not just about the salary package – or even your credentials as an entrepreneur.

Reporting on research into what influences U.S. college graduates, Harvard Business Review recommends that start-ups need to be aware that life-style perks are important, as is knowing what attributes appeal to the kind of employees you are looking for.

A way to get this straight in your mind is to take your job description, and match it to the persona of your ideal employee; the impact you want them to have on the business; and your own management style. If you know you’re a micro-manager, there’s no point in looking for someone that’s self-directed, you’ll be highly likely to come to blows before the end of the first week! Conversely, if you do need a self-starter, and mentoring is not something you enjoy, make sure your job description makes this clear from the start.


3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Once you’ve defined the role, profiled your ideal candidate, and come up with your value proposition, it’s time to get your job opportunity out there. There are endless ways to publish your vacancies, from taking advantage of free job boards, like Indeed, to posting on specialist sites such as StackOverflow, or tapping into your personal networks—whether that’s via LinkedIn, your college alumni network or any other professional group you’re a member of.

If you are looking to grow rapidly, or have a lot of CVs to get through, making use of cost-effective online HR software that includes automated job posting and applicant tracking functionality can save you huge amounts of time. These systems can usually be set up to filter applications based on key criteria (so you don’t need to review every single CV), and can help streamline the whole communication process. Once candidates are confirmed, the data can be transferred to the core HR system, allowing on-going activities, such as performance reviews or leave management to be more easily managed.

While you may hit lucky straight away, not everyone is so fortunate. Be prepared to learn and review the approach you are taking, and perhaps even try something totally different if it’s not working. Don’t get pressured into taking someone that you’re not confident would be a good fit just because the good candidates aren’t showing up. It’s your business, and your future, so you owe it to yourself to take the time to get it right.

Sue Lingard works for Cezanne HR, a leading provider of flexible Cloud HR software for mid-sized and growing UK & international businesses. Visit Cezanne HR’s blog for more articles about how to manage people and updates on the latest HR software systems

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