We all have to start somewhere. Making that first hire is vital because it sets the tone for all future hires. This is the point where small companies will start building their company culture, so it’s important to start off right. There comes a time when small business owners have to make the decision to grow and let go of some of the responsibility, or stay stagnant.

A good place to start would be with a recent post on a blog about the differences between a contractor and an employee. Check it out to help you decide which is best for your small business. If an employee is what your business needs, there are a lot of steps to take to get you there. Liabilities, responsibilities, extra expenses and forms are just the beginning. According to an Entrepreneur article on making the first hire, the estimated cost of recruiting, hiring and training just one new employee is about $4,000.

With costs like that, it’s important to go into this decision with eyes wide open and a strong knowledge of the hiring process. Knowing your legal limitations and responsibilities is essential. A bad hiring move can have a serious impact on the business, especially for smaller companies. Stay safe and legal with your first hire.

Phyllis Hartman, SPHR, an HR consultant, who works with many small businesses says,

"It's much wiser to spend extra time up front to make sure you hire the right person," she says. "Letting an employee go because they weren't a good fit, and having to hire again, is much more time-consuming."

Cultural fit is important, but it should not be the decision maker. When it’s just you, it is very appealing to go with the likeable, less skilled candidate, but that might not be what is best for the company. Everyone wants to work with people whom they get along with, but just make this decision on gut instinct. People will mislead, stretch the truth and out right lie to get their foot in the door. Do the real work and find out who they really are and what they can really do. A ridiculous amount of job applications or resumes (about 40% to get specific) misrepresentations in them. When you’re new to the world of being an employer, you might not know where to start or what the boundaries are.

Although it is common sense that thoroughly vetting candidates is just good business, the recent push for cultural fit as lead a lot of employers to go for the smile and forget about the core. Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at CareerBuilder says,

“The more thoroughly the candidates are vetted, the less likely they will be a poor match.” 

Background checks usually entail confirming previous employment. This means title, dates and responsibilities should match up with what the candidate said. Background checks should also include a look into worker’s compensation claims, criminal records, credit check, driving record and drug testing. You should also ask for original education documents, as these are very easy to forge.

It’s a lot of personal information that you’ll need to get ahold of, so what a lot of businesses are doing is outsourcing this type of work to a company. In this case, the employer is required to let the candidate know who will be doing their background check and have it documented. Just make sure that you choose a reputable and discrete company.

Experts say to not skip the drug test! It can be awkward and you might feel as though you could surely tell if you were interviewing a junky, but that is not the case. Someone with an alcohol problem won’t put that down as a hobby on his or her resume. An estimated 65% of accidents that happen on the job are due in part to a substance abuse problem, and employees with substance problems are 6X more likely to file worker’s comp claims than their “clean” counterparts. Whether you decide to conduct random drug testing or not, you should always do a pre-employment drug test. While you are not allowed to ask about a candidate’s prescription medicine use in an interview, you are allowed to retract an employment offer if they are to refuse drug testing.

Steer Clear of These Off-Limits Topics

  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Race
  • Any type of handicap (physical or mental)

It’s not everything, but it’s a good place to start. As you get into the nitty-gritty, sites like the U.S. Department of Labor or Nolo have great checklist references to safeguard your company during the hiring process. This article in particular lays it all out in a very easy to understand way. The first hire is such an important step for any business; to take this step on instinct just isn’t the safe way to go. Put in the time and do the work for that guaranteed good first hire.

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photo credit:  WWW.MAZINTOSH .COM via photopin cc

Views: 193

Comment by Rchilli Parser on November 6, 2013 at 4:22am

Very well written, In the beginning of any start up company, that's more or less very difficult to get your dream team with you. Here the choices you make will decide the fate of your company. Extract the best out of your resumes and listen to your instincts has always worked for us.

Comment by Eric Eldredge on November 8, 2013 at 5:53pm

Going along with what Rosemary Haefner said, vetting candidates is an important and often overlooked step in making a hire -- especially among small businesses. Though, I'd like to add that background checks and drug testing aren't the only ways you should pre-screen your candidates. Pre testing candidates before they sit down for interviews is a great, cost-effective way to help prevent an unsuccessful hire. That's the premise that my company, www.TestUP.com, was founded upon anyway! We offer free, short pre-screening tests along with plans geared towards small businesses -- check them out and let me know what you think!

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