First Time Hiring? Here’s What to Look for in Prospective Employees

Most entrepreneurs launch their startups with full awareness that they will be working long hours alone from their garage-office for years before they see the first signs of success. However, when success does come, it often means that expansion of your enterprise — but the hiring process doesn’t always come easily.

In particular, it might not be clear what you need from your new employee (or employees). While you can find plenty of lists of important skills for entry-level workers, your situation is relatively special; your first-ever hire needs to be a particular kind of person to help make your small startup shine. Regardless of what your business does, here are some qualifications every realistic candidate for hire should have:

An Appropriate Credential

You know best what skills you need from your first hire, but you should prioritize those with credentials like degrees and certifications in appropriate fields. For instance, if you need a marketing expert to help build the visibility of your business, you should look for candidates with degrees in marketing; if you need help developing an app, you should find someone with a certification like Associate Android Developer or MTA Developer. You should know a bit about what different credentials mean, so you can compare different candidates appropriately — but you should avoid stigmatizing credentials gained over the internet, as many programs only exist in digital spaces nowadays. For example, an online bachelors degree program is just as valuable as an in-person bachelor’s degree program, as long as both come from accredited universities.

Admittedly, credentials don’t inherently demonstrate a candidate’s mastery of certain skills or knowledge. In some cases, plentiful experience might be more valuable to your budding business. However, listing credentials among your necessary qualifications is a good way to signal to job candidates that you are looking for particular know-how, and it is a good way to identify potential workers who have what you need.

Complementary Communication Style

You need an employee who communicates well — but what that means depends entirely on how you like to communicate. It is important that you think critically about how you expect to communicate with your subordinates going forward and select for workers who fulfill your expectations.

For example, you might want to delegate a task and not hear anything about that task until it is complete; then again, you might prefer regular updates on how the task is going. You might be the type of worker who needs complete silence during the workday, or you might like to chat with your employees, keeping up conversation all day long. You might need every communication in writing over email or text, or you might enjoy face-to-face interactions (in person or over video chat).

You should also consider your communication deficiencies. For instance, if you aren’t particularly confident talking to suppliers or customers, you might look for candidates that have more communication experience in these areas. Then, you can be certain that your business’s external and internal communications are solid.

Enthusiasm About Your Unique Business

Working at a startup isn’t easy. As the first hire, your employee will almost certainly have an overwhelming amount of responsibility — and it is unlikely that they will receive comparable pay or benefits to their peers in more established businesses. There will be no opportunities for meaningful promotions, at least until your business grows more. Many employees chafe under these conditions.

Therefore, it is imperative that candidates you consider have a passion for your business, specifically. You need to know what it is about your brand that gets them excited to come to work, and you need to believe that they will remain committed to your startup even when the reality of the work sets in. This isn’t to say you get to take advantage of your workers; rather, unless you don’t mind replacing your small staff every few months, you should really search out those who are truly enthusiastic about what you are trying to do. By hiring your first employee, you are increasing your workforce by 100 percent. Never again will hire have such an impact on the performance of your business, so you need to take the time to determine exactly what qualifications matter and find the perfect person for you and your company.

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