There comes a stage in the life of every start-up business where you just can’t do everything anymore – and at least one member of staff is going to be needed to continue your expansion. Finding the right person can be tricky – but not nearly as tricky as finding out you’ve got the wrong person further down the line!
We’ll walk you through some steps you’ll need to take to find, recruit and keep the first official member of your start-up staff team…
Work out who you need
It’s easy to think in ‘job roles’ when you’re looking to recruit someone – but try to be more flexible in your thoughts. Instead of thinking “I need a salesperson”, take some time to work out the responsibilities of the role you’re hoping to fill. From there you can create a detailed description of what a day with look like in the job. Your company is likely to be fairly unique, you don’t have to be generic in your recruitment.
The global economy and the sheer number of internet recruitment tools means that people are usually fairly easy to find. Be careful though, while there are lots of people who are qualified or experienced in whatever role it is you’re trying to fill, there’s another person who’ll be keen to just ‘give it a go’.
Thinking about the job roles and responsibilities you outlined, work out what are ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ traits in the person you’re trying to find. Be specific, if you want someone with experience of using a particular program that is vital to your business then make sure it’s an essential – and only interview people who meet or exceed those minimum requirements.
If you’re starting-up you’re likely to be spending a lot of time with the person who’s nervously sitting opposite you in your interview. While fleshing out some of the experience they’ve talked about in their application is necessary, it’s also important that you get a feel for them as a person. Is this someone who’s going to share your passion? Do they ‘get’ what you’re trying to do with the business? Do they share you outlook or sense of humour?
You might think that these things are secondary to the skills needed – and if you were a CEO taking on your tenth programmer they might be – but for these first few people who join your business, being part of the business ‘family’ is going to be just as important.
Try to account for nerves – but don’t discount that feeling you get in your stomach about whether or not this person is going to fit well into the company.
The whole thing about ‘you can’t give a bad reference’ is nonsense – while they might not be able to unleash a tirade of abuse about the person who’s just been fired, an employer can reflect the facts about a person, good or bad – you’ve just got to ask the right questions.
This is an area that warrants spending some thinking time – focus on extracting facts from previous employers, i.e. amount time spent off ill, whether or not the person fulfilled everything in their job description, whether the person had or was facing a disciplinary or performance management issues – etc.
If any of the questions don’t come back as you’d hoped, call the person back in for a further interview and chat about the issues – we’ve all been in jobs where the boss is difficult, so don’t throw a good candidate away just because they’ve had a bad time previously.
Give a very detailed job description
It’s really important to formalise a person’s role. If you were ever to face problems with an employee you don’t want to be in a position where they can say “that’s not in my job description”.
That doesn’t mean a role description can’t change, if there’s an additional aspect to the role you’d like a person to take on then you can talk about adding it – be aware that this is the perfect time for your employee to talk about more money though!
Don’t be afraid to be specific, working times, conduct relating to work, responsibilities – it should all be in here – it keeps everyone’s understanding in the same place.
Think about a trial period
It can be prudent for both parties to opt for a trial or probationary period in a role. If at any time the arrangement isn’t working for either party there can be a discussion about terminating the role – or changing either party’s input.
A 3 or 6-month probationary period shouldn’t be something that hangs like a sword over an employee’s head, if you get to the end of the period and the person asks if they can stay on then you’re doing it wrong! Instead, this should be a period of constant adjustment – are they not quite right on a certain task? Provide some training and set some goals. Are they missing deadlines? Don’t wait until 6 months down the line and tell them to leave – address it now and have a model employee at the end of the probation!
Create a contract
Having a contract in place means formalising all the logistical parts of the role – as well as incorporating the role description you’ve worked on. While you’re likely to do a great job of creating this – it’s worth having someone who’s familiar with employment law look it over to make sure you’re not leaving yourself exposed by omitting anything.
As you’re now an employer you’re going to need to abide by various employment laws – but don’t worry, it might sound intimidating but there’s some great formal and legal guidance out there on how to do it to the letter.
You’ll need to:
- Have insurance in place to cover the employee in the role they’re doing.
- Register with HMRC as an employer.
- Be aware of and abide by sickness, working hours, holiday and maternity and paternity laws and regulations.
There’s too much in each of those subjects to explain in depth here – and since they’re legal areas you’re always better to make sure you’re getting your information straight from the HMRC or government to ensure you’re 100% protected.
It might feel like a big and worrying step taking someone on and being responsible for their employment – but it’s a vital part of seeing your company grow, so enjoy the first big milestone!