How to recruit your first employee

How to recruit your first employee

The process of hiring your first employee is critical; an ideal first employee will be one who understands your firm's culture, standards and long-term vision.

Choosing the right person will help your business head in the right direction, whilst setting the tone for the rest of an expanding team. Hiring the wrong person can be disastrous for a company, so it is vital that serious effort and consideration is put into both the recruiting and interviewing process.

Self hire or outsource

Often, business owners opt for the 'DIY' approach to recruitment due to budgetary constraints. If you do decide to self-hire, it is essential to write a solid job description, detailing both the duties of the position as well as characteristics of the person who would be best able to perform them. As well as listing the correct skills, it is important to sell the position to good candidates; include any information - for example, benefit schemes and working environment - that will help attract candidates to your vacancy. In turn, a detailed advertisement will help you develop interview questions; preparing and structuring an interview is extremely important, and advanced planning will mean that all relevant questions are asked.

Hiring a recruitment consultant, on the other hand, can save you having to rifle through CVs and promote the job yourself. They are also likely to carry out an initial screening interview with candidates, meaning you will be presented with several options that are most likely to fit the job specification. However, recruitment consultant fees can be expensive (it depends on the industry, but is generally 15-30% of the successful candidate's first year salary) and there is no guarantee that the candidates will be a higher standard than if you were to advertise the role yourself.

In addition to this, it's important to carefully read any contracts you sign with recruitment agencies. It’s worth remembering that if the successful candidate leaves shortly after taking up your role, unless you have a clause in the contract with your recruiter, you are unlikely to be able to reclaim any money back.

Promoting the role

Next, consider the means by which you advertise. If you are using a recruitment agency, they are likely to handle this for you. If you are recruiting yourself, advertise jobs via job board websites and local publications, and consider asking former colleagues if they are interested in the position (but ensure they would be a good fit for the role before you do). If you have a social media following, post links to the job description from updates and tweets.

Making an offer

Once you’ve made a decision on the right candidate, don’t wait – they may have other interviews in the pipeline and you don’t want to lose them to another employer. If possible, contact them the same day by phone, which will give you an opportunity to discuss the offer in greater detail.

Assuming they accept, send them an offer letter in the post outlining the terms and conditions of the offer, including:

  • Job title in full
  • Salary and benefits
  • Start date
  • Any conditions of the offer (e.g. criminal background checks)
  • Requests for any documentation, such as qualification certificates or proof of identity

Further information on handling job offers can be found on the government website.

Staying legal

Data protection and freedom of information legislation are important considerations during the recruitment and selection process. It is essential that business owners keep up-to-date with HR and employment law; the ACAS website is a very useful resource for any information regarding employment.

When you take on your first member of staff, it's vital that you take out employer's liability insurance. It covers against illness or injury suffered by employees as a result of your negligence; this could be, for example, if an employee slipped on a wet floor at the office. Your existing insurer is likely to offer this cover, and you'll require a minimum limit of £5m. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £2,500 per day that you are uninsured. We offer employer's liability insurance for professional firms from £5 a month - get a quote now.

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