Q:  I’m a one man band and have recently decided to hire someone to lend me a hand.  What do I need to keep in mind as I take my first steps towards being an employer?

A:  At some point, many small business owners consider bringing in some outside help in order to ease their workload.  However, hiring your first employee is not a process that should be done hastily.  If done incorrectly, firing your first employee can be even more problematic then bringing them on board.  Thus, below we’ll examine some of the challenges you’ll run into as well as other important items you’ll want to keep in mind so that employee No. 1 is a good fit.

Do Your Math. Many owners are sometimes taken aback at how much it actually costs to have an employee.  The actual cost of the employee will be more than you think because of payroll tax obligations, benefits, etc.  It’s not uncommon for a $10 per hour employee to cost the employer $12.50 – $14 per hour “fully burdened.”   In a post later this month we’ll talk about the payroll tax obligations and how to make sure you cover yourself.

The Job Post.  Whether you are hanging a help wanted sign in your shop window or posting to a job board, this is the first step in attracting applicants.  Make sure the post is clear, concise, specific and informative.  You don’t want to waste your time dealing with candidates that aren’t what you’re looking for.  So be upfront about who you want to join your team and what you consider a good candidate (i.e. skill set).

Location, Location, Location.  Where you post your job impacts the quality of candidates you get.  The job pool who browses Craigslist (e.g. independent freelancers) vs. that of Indeed can vary significantly.  Likewise, using an employment agency or staffing firm will land another caliber of employee.  Thus keep in mind that if you want to find a highly skilled worker, you will typically need to pay more to post your role.

It Takes Time.  Be prepared for a lengthy process.  Many first time employers think that they’ll slap together a job post, tons of candidates will come flocking and they’ll simply pick the best one.  Right?  Unfortunately, most employers have to be patient as it often takes some time to find interested, qualified AND responsive candidates.  It’s not uncommon for you to encounter candidates who initially appear interested but then disappear into the wild-blue-yonder without so much as an email.  Likewise, commission only roles often take longer to fill.  And when you do find that perfect match, you’ll still need time to do reference, background and criminal checks.  Thus, make sure you allow enough lead time in your process, especially if you need someone to start by a certain time.

Don’t Settle. No matter how frustrating the process gets, don’t settle on a candidate just to fill the role. If they aren’t what you are looking for keep plugging on until you find your match.  If this means rewriting your job post, paying more to have it posted in a different media or partnering with an outside firm, do it.  Nothing beats hiring a person who at best isn’t a fit and worst is either detrimental to your company or causes financial issues (e.g. fraud or embezzlement).