Written by Faiz A. Rahman
Hiring is not an easy job, and hiring the right person for your startup could be much harder. Your first employee can influence the future success of your company, however he or she can also be the one who messes things up.
Without any doubt, hiring the best possible talent is a definite must. However, your company is still young and small and probably most people will doubt you and your team.
Hiring the first person after the co-founders have agreed upon to build a dream together is a huge step for your startup, and you have to make sure your fist employee has the sense to build that dream as well. Now the question is, how to hire the right person?
Here are our top picks for hiring the first employee for your startup:
- Hire after the need, not before
First and foremost, you have to make sure that you actually need to be hiring. For an early and small startup, don’t fill a position until after the need for that position is clear.
You need to answer the question what are you trying to accomplish by adding this new hire? Do you need an assistant to take care of your daily busy work so you can focus on building the product? Are you looking to add expertise so you can expand your product offerings?
In short, how do you expect this employee to add value to your startup in short and long-term. You need to have a road map of the benefits they’ll provide if he or she becomes your first employee.
- Remember, the perfect person doesn’t exist
You and your co-founders need to put aside your ambitious plan to hire an ironman, besides you have to compromise and accept the fact that the perfect person doesn’t exist.
It is very important to break down and focus on your collective wishes and dreams into deal-breakers versus nice-to-haves. Then rank the deal-breakers. That’s the best way to figure out where you’re willing to compromise and where you are not.
- Hire for potential, don’t focus fully on past track records
If the candidates show you their glamorous resumes, don’t just swallow them. You need to have an ability to see potential in them, not just evidence of past success (even though it might help). Working for startup is different to working for established companies, look for someone who has a strong interest or passion in what your startup does. Unlocking potential has to do with mixing someone’s skills and passions.
- Have everyone in the team interview the candidates
Since you want to hire the first person for your team, everyone has to get involved and has something to say about the candidates. It is also a way to find a cultural fit for your team, which is a bit tricky.
As each co-founder has a distinct personalities and work styles, it is important to hire the first person who would work well with all co-founders. Co-founders of RecruitLoop, an online recruitment marketplace based in San Francisco and Australia, interviewed their first candidate four times, twice after they knew he was their top choice. It may seem excessive, but it is important to have confidence that he’d fit in well.
- Know the law of hiring
In any place in the world, there are definitely laws that you need to know before starting the process of hiring and employing someone. There are national laws and there may be provincial or local regulations as well.
There are several ways to do it, such as consult with local attorney, ask another founder who has been in that position or consult with an experienced recruiter manager. It is well worth your time to understand the law and begin making habits out of following them.
- Don’t just settle
Should you hire anyone who applies? No! hiring the wrong person for your startup can be worse than not having anyone at all. If they leave or you have to make them leave (fire them), you have to deal with a whole new sets of problem, paperwork, and repeat the hiring process all over again. You need to understand that time is essential for you and your team, but you don’t want to hire just random person.
Hiring is a painful process, take your time and don’t just settle. The right employee that you hire could make all the difference in the process of building your company.
Meanwhile, hiring the wrong person could be even worse.
In the end, every hiring decision will be very subjective, and there are no guarantees that you hire the right employee. However, the aforementioned points can hopefully help you make a hiring decision that you will not regret later.