Making Your First Hire

As we said in our article on 14 June 23, small businesses don’t have all the resources of larger companies to deal with “people issues” like hiring, performance reviews, employee development, etc. But managing your people well is still critical for business success.  Today we are focusing on making your first hire.

Thinking About that First Hire

First do you really need to recruit?  What business model do you want to adopt?  You can of course employ people, but there are also options open to you.

Recruit your own staff.  These people will be employed by you under a Contract of Employment.  You would employ someone where there is a long-term or permanent need for the role.  There is no foreseeable end to the requirement for the role.  The role is integral to the success and functioning of the business.  Your new recruit requires a contract of employment from day one at the latest, so get your paperwork in place either for day one, or even better, as soon as you make an offer.

Engage a freelancer.  These professionals are project specific (Engaged under a Contract for Services).  Engage a freelancer where the role requires a specialism or specialist skill / knowledge / experience set for one-off or short-term project delivery.  The role is not permanent or full-time.  NB// This should not entail you business becoming the fulltime client of the consultant – consider IR35 implications when procuring Consultants.

Engage a consultant.  This would apply when you have a expertise specific (Engaged under a Contract for Services).  Where there is funding secured or expertise required for a specific piece of work or project and those skills do not exist within your business.  This could include a one-off piece of work required to progress the business or a project.  Consultants could be a People and Culture professional, or Agile processes consultant, you get the picture!  NB// This should not entail your business becoming the fulltime client of the consultant – consider IR35 implications when procuring Consultants.

Working with partner organisations.  This can include working on joint ventures where your business undertakes projects collaboratively.  At the project resourcing stage all partner organisations will scope the project to determine the staffing within their own organisation.  Where resources exist within the partner organisation they will be the employer and the employee seconded to the project.  NB// Where your organisation manages the project consideration may need to be given to a secondment agreement.  This will be considered and agreed when scoping the project.

Engage a secondee from another organisation.  Where resources exist within another organisation and their employee is seconded to the project either part time or full time for a defined period.  This will occur when your business have identified the skills / experience in another organisation, but the organisation is not directly involved in the project.  The Secondee will come to the business under a Secondment Agreement but will remain the employee of their employer.

Intern or Apprentice appointment.  From time to time your business may engage in projects to improve employability or give someone the opportunity to undertake practical research.  This will be project / subject specific – a clearly defined piece of work.  The organisation may from time to time have the opportunity to develop talent through apprentice schemes following a clearly defined apprenticeship framework.  Apprentices will be employed under an apprenticeship agreement, for a fixed term with relevant training / education in place.

Hiring Basics

If you do decide to hire be very targeted and focused on your hiring criteria. List up to five most important competencies and traits the role requires.  Screen candidates carefully based on those factors.  Keep your interview process focused and straightforward.  Hire for cultural fit and the top two to three crucial skills.  Don’t over hire, only bring people on when you truly need them.

When making your first hire start as you mean to go on.  Make sure you introduce them to the business effectively.  Onboarding is crucial to ensuring:

  1. You have the right person.
  2. Setting the ways of working, which as the business grows will become your cultural norms.
  3. You put the correct development and training in place. Use your interview notes to help identify development requirement and make sure it’s on the top of your list o discuss with the new employee when they start with you.

Set clear goals and review progress regularly.

Remember your new hire needs a contract of employment on day one, or even better as soon as you make the offer.

Finding that First Hire

You may be thinking how do I find the right person?  If you have time you could do a LinkedIn search.  Use LinkedIn to headhunt.  We advise people to put what they want to be found for in the LinkedIn headline.  You can search using Job and Location criteria.  Using LinkedIn remember to mark yourself as hiring both on your company page and your own profile.

Be aware recruitment agencies charge a percentage of the salary by way of introduction and recruitment fees.  Agree the fees up front.

Ask fellow industry professionals for recommendations.

Check any speculative applications / CVs you may have received.

Think about how you can make your first hire cost effective, you can do it yourself through online systems like Indeed, where you can set the amount you want to spend.


Good luck!  Go make your first hire a hit!

Check out how we can support you.