Hiring the wrong person can be disastrous for a small company. So, it’s critical that you get it right.
It’s always a big moment when a small business owner hires their first employee. Having an extra pair of hands can help your business to really grow and, by taking some of the everyday tasks off you, enable you to re-focus on what you do best, whether that’s making sales, developing new ideas or working with your customers.
But, hiring the wrong person can be disastrous for a small company. So, it’s critical that you get it right. Here are five tips on how to ensure you hire the right person.
Who’s your ideal candidate?
Once you’ve written your job description detailing what the employee will do, compile a list of attributes the perfect employee would have. Don’t worry about setting the bar too high –after all, how will you be able to judge the applicants unless you know what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
Personality = performance.
Whatever experience or qualifications you might think a candidate must have to perform the role in fact often aren’t that important in how well they do the job. A person’s character is a much bigger factor in their performance than whether they have a college degree or know how to use a particular computer program. In a small business it’s their personality and attitude that will make the difference: are they a self-starter, how do they interact with customers, are they willing to roll up their sleeves and do anything that’s required, and how well do they cope under pressure. To help you pick the person with the right traits, ask candidates to tell you how in their previous jobs they have shown the attributes you’re looking for: how did they deal with an angry customer, or what did they do when there was an emergency and the boss was away, for example.
Promote yourself as a good employer.
Your small firm is unlikely to be able to compete with the salaries or promotion prospects that bigger companies can offer, so you will need to be imaginative to attract the best candidates. Start by asking yourself: why would I want to work for me? Some people prefer to work for small firms, because they don’t like to feel they’re a small cog in a big machine; they enjoy working in a little team and may not be too worried about having a structured career path providing they are offered the prospect of increasing responsibility as your company expands. As a small business owner, it’s just as important for you to sell the idea of working for your firm to a good candidate as it is for that person to make a favorable impression on you.
Offer interesting perks.
You will need to provide attractive benefits to lure the best candidates, though your budget may not stretch to medical insurance or an end-of-year bonus. But the perks you offer needn’t cost that much: they could be flexible working hours or getting your birthday off every year. Or why not give them something that appeals to their personal passions or pastimes? Perhaps a family pass to an amusement park, or tickets to a big baseball game. They might appreciate that more than a check, because it shows you’ve really thought about it. You want to make the ideal candidate think: “This is a company I really want to work for.”
Get it down on paper.
One of the hardest aspects of being a first-time boss is making the mental shift from working on your own to being an employer. That’s why it’s important to start off properly, even if you plan to have only one employee for the foreseeable future. That means drawing up a contract for your employee to sign, which sets out clearly what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. You are potentially vulnerable if something goes wrong and there isn’t a written employment agreement between you, even if your employee is a friend or family member who helps you for a few hours each week.