Jan 27, 2019
Congratulations! This is a really exciting time for you in business. I remember when I first started out in business. I thought, okay, what am I gonna be doing here? I wrote up a plan and made a decision as to where I wanted to go, and it was really only a couple time that I went, "this is when I've made it." One of those times was when I went to the bank, and they said, "you have enough of an income to be able to buy a house." So in Australia, that means you've got at least two years of positive financials, where they'll then take the lowest of the two years and take that as your income, and then they'll allow you to buy a house. That that was fantastic. So I went, "woo-hoo!" I've been doing it and now even the bank agrees that what I've been doing is right and it was a moment of success for me.
Hiring an Employee
The other one was when I hired my first employee. That's what we're gonna talk about today. If you're at the spot where you're looking to get your first employee, you're obviously growing enough and you're passionate enough about the business. If you're getting your first employee, chances are you've already had contractors working for you. That's a good spot to get some understanding and visuals as to how people are gonna work with you. Unless you're gonna be converting one of those contractors across to an employee, you're going to have to train up this new employee. This can take time. It obviously depends on the industry that you're in. If you're in any of the professional services industries, this can take a number of months. For me, my first employee took about seven, eight months before they're actually ready to go and they were doing the tasks that I wanted them to do when they first started. That meant that I needed to have eight months ready of money to pay them as they're ramping up to be able to become the productive person that I wanted them to be.
Where to Find An Ideal Candidate
So you've got a bit of funding behind you, which is awesome. Now you need to have a think about where you are going to find this ideal candidate. For my first employee, I jumped straight on Seek, and put an ad up there and had a look at how it went. I had a few different systems that I put in place beforehand to make sure that I got the right candidate. One of those was I had an email written within the body of the job application that I popped up on Seek. I stated specifically within the job application that attention to detail is a must in this business, and if you would like to apply for this job, make sure to apply through email@example.com.
Moving Forward in the Employee Search
After they applied, I then had their email captured. I looked at their name and popped them into a list. I sent them out a Myers Briggs test to check their compatibility with our other team members, which at that stage were all contractors. I measured how long it took them to respond to that email, and then gave them another questionnaire which asked them a few other questions such as driver's licence information and what their primary, secondary, and tertiary interests were in the field. I did go over the top and it's not something that everyone would go and do. What this did do was that it screened out a bunch of people that just applied through the normal way, where they were not actually reading the job information. Those people that don't have an invested interest to even read the job application are not going to have the attention to detail that most people will need in business. So that's a little handy tip that I've done in the past, and I find it works brilliantly.
In the footer of the job application, write your name on it. If they respond and they don't respond to you with your name, it's again a good chance that they haven't really read it, or they don't care enough about the job. So those are two tips. Have them go to an email address. That's easy enough to do. And then make sure that you have your name in there and see if they actually write the email to you with their name. Ask for something like their resume to be attached as well. It's easy enough to do, but it can definitely help you with the search. When you put a job on Seek, a lot of the time that will bring in a hundred to 200 different applicants. Doing these few things will help you filter out a bunch of the applications that are just noise. This saves you a lot of time and effort of going through crappy resumes.
So. Many. Resumes!
You're going to go through so many resumes, you're going to have resumes coming out of your face. You're going know every single resume font and layout that's ever been designed. Every template that's every existed to mankind will be in your brain and you're gonna hate it! You will find people that have plagiarised other people's resumes and then just changed their name. It's ridiculous. I didn't even know that people would do that. Why would anyone do that? But it's out there. People do it. If you find a resume that's too long, you will throw it out. You will have several different piles. You're going to have the pile that's "I'm gonna call back", and the pile "I'm never gonna call back". The callback pile will always contain the shorter resumes that went to the point and showed you the information that you needed to see as quickly and as easily as possible.
Do Some Research
Once you've got a list of people they will be your candidates. Turn them into a list of people and then do a bit of Googling. See how much information you can find out about these people. Most of the time, if they're good candidates and they're professional, you're not going to see them popping pills and snorting lines of cocaine in their Facebook public profile, but you'd be surprised. This process will again just trim the bush down a bit to a manageable size where you can then know who will get a call and who won't.
Get Appointments Set
I find, once you've got a good manageable size, email them all and organise appointments. One way that you can do this is using a tool called Calendly. This gives them access to your calendar to be able to schedule in when your free time is. You can then have them all slot into different times as opposed to going backward and forwards.
What Questions Will You Ask?
Once you've got them all ready to go, it's important to have a set list of questions that you're going to ask them. You want the questions to be divided into three main categories. One of the categories is going to be your general housekeeping stuff. Are they going to be able to get to the job? Do they have a car? Are they able to work the hours you've asked them to work? What happens if there's work that comes outside of the scheme of what would be your standard day? Asking a few of those sort of basic questions is a good idea.
Once you've done that, have the technical questions ready. Try to make it stuff that you can't Google. Since this first meeting is just going to be over the phone try have it really detailed. One of the questions you could ask would be, if you were in the window repair industry, what year did glazing putty become phased out? Where would you be using that? That's a really weird one because a lot of the people nowadays don't even consider even using that. A lot of the time they just ask you to replace the whole window frame. But nevertheless, just have a few questions up your sleeve that is a bit obscure that are harder to answer.
Give Them A Chance to Ask Questions
Once you've got your technical questions and your HR questions out of the way, ask them a few questions they might want to ask about you. Maybe it's just as simple as, do you have any questions that you'd like to ask us? How did you hear about us? Why would you like working with our team? What are your weaknesses is a great question that you can ask them. That gives you an idea of how they rate themselves. Someone who says, "I don't have any weaknesses," is not being truthful to you. You can always hear the change in their tone of voice. There's a fantastic series of books by a guy named Paul Ekman which discusses how to hear and read people around their body language and what they're saying. If it's something you wanna get more into, it's definitely worth checking it out.
Face-to-Face Interview Time
Let's assume the phone interview went gangbusters. It's understandable, they might have been a bit nervous, but you let that pass because you knew that they are going be the best candidate for you and you would have been nervous in their shoes. They now are in the face-to-face interview. It's important to have a second person there to be looking over what they're doing. If they start fiddling or looking away, you can a lot of the time assume that they might be either still nervous or lying to you, depending on the question that was asked. There are services out there that provide you with someone to sit there with you in the interview and analyse the candidate. This can take some of the strain away from hiring. When I hired my first employee, we did take on the services of someone. They allowed us to have a higher level of professionalism and understand exactly what the interviewee was saying when I was asking the questions. You will be as nervous as the person interviewing, if not more nervous. So having that safety net is a great idea.
Next comes the big one, which is been on everyone's mind since I started talking about this, the price. How do you price up your employee? How do you give the employee incentive to work harder, better, and more optimised than what they would've otherwise? I would suggest, if you work in any of the award industries, jump onto the websites where you're able to see these numbers and work out what you should be paying them. If you don't, if you work for any of the industries that don't come under an award, reach out and think about what you're comfortable paying, and if that lines up with the type of person you're looking for. More money does not mean a better employee. I've seen employees that have come in here and they've wanted 150-180,000 dollars, and they performed more poorly on the questions asked than the employees that wanted 30-50,000 dollars. The people that have big resumes with lots of certifications and degrees also do not necessarily perform as well as the people that have been in and out on the field doing the work.
Look Out for Alarm Bells
The other thing you need to look out for is big name drops. If they say, "oh, we've been working for Hewlett Packard," or, "I've been working for Microsoft for a number of years," and you think geez, they must be good! But the problem is, as soon as they work for any large corporation, their information that they see and their job gets popped into a tiny, tiny little box. You're a small business. If this is your first employee, you're going to want to have them doing more than just a small amount of work that's just very, very specialised. So I would personally, as your first employee, steer away from anyone that has big corporate experience because they're not gonna fit in the box that you're gonna give them.
What Incentive Scheme Will You Use?
Assuming everything's gone well, you now need to work out the incentive scheme for them. The incentive scheme varies from industry to industry, but you want to make sure you have key performance indicators in place. By doing this they can work to a metric and excel at that and exceed to be able to be remunerated accordingly. Once you've all agreed upon the way that you'd like the pay to be set out and the way that you'd like the incentive scheme to be set out, it's time for the legal paperwork to be handed across.
Time For Them to Get to Work!
Once you've done all the paperwork, they will finally start working for you. Having them sign things such as non-disclosure agreements, non-compete documentation, and having them sign anything that you think might protect you legally is a great idea. Having systems in place to be able to see that they are accountable and that they are responsible with the way that they're undertaking the work is a great idea. Also remember, this is your first employee and you are the business owner. As a business owner, you're very passionate about your business and you've been wearing lots of hats for probably a long time. You're probably the best person at this skill that you're doing. They are learning, and they will strive to become as good as whatever it is you've employed them to do, but they're still learning. While they might never be as good as you are at everything, if they're able to get to 80% of where you're at, that's 80% less stuff you need to be doing.
You Will Always Be The Most Passionate
Just know that you are always gonna be more passionate than anyone else unless you incentive schemes work out that they end up owning a part of the business. In that case, the person that you're employing isn't really an employee, they sort of become a partner. Then that becomes very muddy as to what their intentions are. So I'd say if I was you, do not incentive with shares or any schemes like that. Make sure that you're not too hard on them at the end of the day.
At The End Of The Day
So in conclusion, look out for wicked candidates but put some tricky questions in the interviews. Make sure that the way that you're grasping candidates is a way that you can see if they're actually listened to what you've asked. Interview well. Be ready for them to be nervous, as you will also be. Have accountability systems in place and incentive systems, and be ready to rock n roll. Good luck with your future adventures!