5 Rules on How to Hire Your First Employees
If you want to build a great company, hire the right people
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
In a budding business, where time and funding are invariably scarce, where stress is high and working hours are long, nothing matters more than building a great team. Says Anj Vera, CEO at employer branding firm TalentView, “The founding team members can make or break a start-up.”
Here are five rules to get the best people on board.
1. Do actively seek out talent
Instead of waiting for responses to a job posting, be proactive and reach out to potential hires. It may very well be that these job seekers are unaware of new opportunities until someone reaches out to them. Consult your network if they know of people looking to change jobs or expand their skill set in a new industry.
This has two advantages. One, you get to control talent quantity or the number of candidates you will be evaluating since you are dealing with a pre-selected pool. Another is talent quality which means that in setting eyes on certain candidates, one can already filter out those who do not meet the standards of the company. In both cases, you can spend more time getting to know the candidates when you reach out to them, when you talk to them, and when you see them at work.
2. Do look for passion
Entrepreneurs need their hires to be as excited as they are about the company because this will impact the quality of their work. Passionate employees do it because they want to, not just because they have to.
Says Vera, “When we started TalentView, it was not simply about finding people with the right skills. We had to make sure that everyone on the team had a heart for helping our customers and seeing past the challenges to find the right solutions to their employer branding needs.”
Doing this early on worked out well for the company in the long run. “In this way, we were able to build strong client relationships from the get-go and generate business through word of mouth, laying the groundwork for a solid customer base,” Vera says.
3. Do hire someone who can don multiple hats
Growing a business means you have to start small, but move fast. Entrepreneurs will need employees who are competent in various areas and are willing to multitask. Running a business means that many unexpected occurrences happen on a day-to-day basis. Hence, you need people you can trust to handle any situation and have the best interests of the company in mind.
4. Do hire someone you can trust
During the hiring process it is easy to focus solely on skills and competencies — what has the employee done in his or her previous work, awards received, post-graduate degrees, and the like. But the often-overlooked quality is trustworthiness. Can you rely on them to pay the right taxes for the business, to make sure that there are no inconsistencies in the company’s books, to tell the truth when confronted about a problem in the office?
Here, character references play an important role. Take the time to talk to their previous employers or mentors and ask questions about the qualities of the applicant: Is he or she dependable? Was there ever an unfortunate incident at work where he or she was involved? How did he or she get along with colleagues? Did he or she relate well with clients?
“Trust is one of the most important values to have in a company, big or small. Entrepreneurs are busy with growing the business so they need people on their team who can make sure that every aspect of the company is running as smoothly as it could,” says Junie Veloso, Head of Business Banking at the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
5. Do look for people who are willing to learn
No matter how skilled or experienced a candidate looks on paper, he or she will still have to learn the ropes once he or she joins the organization. There will always be a period of adjustment, a time for learning how internal processes work, as well as the company culture the owners want to espouse. Having new hires who are open to learning will make the onboarding process (and future working relationship) smoother.
Conversely, having people who think they already know everything is a recipe for disaster. Don’t let an employee’s stubbornness be an obstacle to growth. You will want to find candidates who are confident in their abilities but are aware that there is always room to grow in their roles.
“People who consider themselves constant learners gain the most out of any experience,” Veloso says. “As a business owner, you also have the responsibility to set an example and be a constant learner yourself in order to build a collaborative and innovative workforce.”