8 tips for attracting your first employee

Behind every great company is a great team. As your business grows, you will eventually need to start building your own workforce. But how does a small business attract top talent when essentially it’s just you at the wheel?

In this post, Rapid Formations the UK’s leading company formation agent, look at 8 tips for recruiting your first employee.

Ascertain if you’re ready

Starting a business is exciting. Employing someone is daunting.

So, you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions. Can your business afford it? What’s your budget? Is there enough work to justify it? Are you ready for management? Are you knowledgeable in employment law? Could the work be done by a freelancer?

As an employer, you have someone else relying on you to make a living. Only when you’re ready should you take this challenge on.

Refine the job

Before you even think about talking to candidates, you need to work out the exact role that you want fulfilled.

Is there a particular project that you need the person to focus on, such as building a piece of software or strategising a marketing campaign, or will the employee be shadowing you and providing general assistance with your tasks?

You should also visualise what the role will look like in one year. Will this person be sticking to these initial tasks, managing their own team or will they be your ‘number 2’? The answer to all these questions will shape the job description and the pool in which you look for the right person.

Picture the candidate

If little or no experience is needed, and you’re happy to train someone up – school leavers could be your ideal candidates. If you’re looking for someone with a specialist skill, but you only have a limited budget, someone who’s just left university would be the obvious target.

On the other hand, you may want someone with an employment history who can deputise for you when necessary, in which case you’ll need someone with the appropriate expertise and experience.

Whilst your choice of candidate will be (and should be) heavily influenced by your budget, you must also picture how you see your relationship with this person playing out. Do you want an expert in the field, or would you prefer someone more malleable?

Consider your company culture

Just because you don’t have a team yet, this doesn’t mean that you can’t document your intentions for your company’s culture and values in an internal company handbook.

If you created a business plan, now would be a good time to revisit that, and hone in on the areas that make your business unique.

Moving away from the actual work and salary, why should someone work for you? As a business owner, it’s your duty to cultivate a culture where everyone associated with your business feels valued, and ultimately essential to the operation.

By being able to effectively showcase your ideas for company culture, you will attract people who align with the values of your business and will be passionate about the challenge of helping the business succeed.

Offer growth

Now you really need to start thinking about what you can offer candidates to tempt them into the role.

As a small business, one of the most obvious benefits to any candidate – but particularly to those that are relatively inexperienced – is the opportunity for growth within the business.

There is always an element of risk with recruitment, for all parties involved. One of the rewards you should offer the people who take a chance on you is the opportunity to rise within the company to a senior role that comes with responsibility.

As a small business looking to hire its first employee(s), this should be one of your fundamental selling points.

Provide benefits

It’s naive to think that the joy of the job and a salary is enough.

You must put together an attractive package within the confines of your budget. On top of a competitive salary, you should look into offering health insurance, shares in the company, generous bonus schemes, and wellness initiatives.

You must also recognise the importance of work-life balance. Be flexible with working hours, allow staff to work from home, and maybe even offer a shorter working week or the chance to take a sabbatical.

Write the job description

This is the all-important step of putting what we’ve covered into writing and selling the chance to work with you and your business.

When drafting the description, be clear on everything. The size of your company, the salary, the perks on offer, the culture you want to build, your expectations, and the impact they will have.

Some candidates will be dubious about joining a startup, assuming that the business will eventually go bust, but this is where you need to lure them in and shout about the unique challenge that’s in front of them.

A well-crafted job description – that has not just been hastily created – will pique the interest of candidates who are seeking meaningful and challenging work.

Then, once you’ve written the description, it’s vital that you post the ad in the right places, to reach the desired audience. For this, we recommend not just the big recruitment sites, but also industry-specific platforms, university sites and LinkedIn.

Meet your candidates

Once you’ve worked your way through the plethora of applications (fingers crossed), it’s time to meet the stand-out candidates.

As a small business, interviews are very much two-way. You must make a positive impression.

If you are conducting the interview face to face, do this in a professional environment. Your office, if you have one (and if it’s suitable), or a serviced office space if you don’t.

Take the time to adequately prepare for each interview. If you appear disorganised, the candidate will question your ability to run a business and pay them a salary.

Consider arranging a presentation to showcase your business and plans for the future, and their place within these plans. If you are recruiting someone who needs to be able to perform a specific skilled task, think about setting a small test. You can also set this before if you wish – you can then discuss the result in the interview.

Then, all that’s left for you to do is make your decision, and if you’ve found a worthy candidate, make the job offer.

So there you have it

We hope you have found this post helpful. Hiring your first employee is arguably the trickiest appointment you’ll ever make but get it right and you’ve taken the first steps to building a great team.

Follow the 8 tips set out above to make the process as smooth as possible.

Thanks for reading.

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