A Small Business Owner's Guide To Hiring Your First Employee and Beyond

Tom Quinn |
Tom (he/him) is a growth marketing manager at Snagajob helping small businesses find hourly workers.

Starting the hiring process can be a chore, even for experienced recruiters, so it's no shame if you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of making your first hire for the first time. Luckily, you've landed at Snagajob, the one job board that makes small business recruitment a top priority.

1. Know what you’re looking for

One of our top small business starting tips for businesses thinking of hiring new staff is to be absolutely clear about who you need and why. Think carefully about what you’re hiring for and what kind of person you need for the role. Can the job be done by someone part time, or is it a full-time role? Do you need someone with lots of experience, or a new starter? The more open you are to different kinds of applicants, the more choice you will have when hiring. However, knowing what you want (or sometimes what you don’t want) will save you a lot of time in the process.

2. Hire to fill gaps in your small business

Small business owners frequently end up doing all the jobs all of the time. A main reason for expanding is to reduce your workload so that it frees up your time to focus on growing the business. However, when hiring your first new employee, it's likely that you'll still have to be working alongside them most of the time. That's why the smart move is to hire people who are good at the things you aren't. If you're not the strongest in time management, find someone who is a great scheduler. If you're unsure about how to display your products, hire someone with design experience.

3. Do the job you're hiring for

If you're a small business owner that does all the things, the chances are you've already done the exact thing you want your prospective employees to do. If you haven't done this role, ask yourself why not? Maybe it's because you're or your trying to hire for a skill set that you don't have (filling your gaps, good work). But if it is something you're able to do, ask yourself: would I be happy doing this job if it was for someone else's business? If the answer is no, reconsider the tasks you're asking your candidates to apply for.

4. Be clear in your job description

Once you've figured out what you want, be crystal clear in your job description. The hiring process can be difficult enough at the best of times, and that's without dozens of applicants that aren't quite what you're looking for. Save yourself and your applicants time by being clear about what you absolutely require. Will the post require a specific number of years experience in a certain field? A license or qualification in a particular skill? Put it in the job description. Also, remember to make the description attractive to candidates. Include a clear mission statement, put across the tone of your company, and mention any employee benefits.

5. Look for passion in new employees

It's easy to focus on finding candidates that have lots of experience or qualifications, that can boast the perfect skill set. Of course, skills and experience are important, but they're not the only important thing. Regardless of how skilled or experienced they are, new hires will always have to go through some onboarding to get used to how your business operates. Skills can be taught, but passion is paramount. Passion for your company mission will help even the least experienced employee shine far above the more experienced but less engaged hire.

6. Social Media is your Friend

Whoever you hope to recruit, use social media to your advantage. Whether it's LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, even Tik Tok: if you’re already connecting with your customers through a platform, chances are you’re already in touch with the best candidates. Think about advertising your vacancy on your business platforms. You’ll be more likely to find potential employees that area already passionate about your brand. Later on, social media can help you perform an informal background check on your candidates. Lots of offensive or inappropriate content on a candidate's social media feed should be a red flag in the hiring process.

7. Use what you know

There isn't one right way of hiring employees. If you're not familiar with the recruitment process, use networks or environments you're already familiar with to get yourself started. Talk to neighboring businesses about how they made their hiring decisions. Explore your competitors websites to see what they're doing. If this isn't your first employee, your best port of call is your existing team members; consider offering an incentive program that rewards employee referrals. Build up a bank of knowledge with what you're already familiar with, then expand it to new horizons.

8. Find the right job board

Small business owners hiring their first hire can spend a huge amount of time and money on job boards that just aren't right for their business. Often small business jobs will get lost on the major recruitment platforms, ignored by qualified candidates in favor of bigger businesses with more money to invest in recruiting candidates. That's why, at Snagajob, we focus on being the best job board for small businesses. Our hiring managers help small business owners find the best candidates, no matter the size or nature of their business. If you're reading this because you're looking to hire, post your job now to get started.

9. Plan your interview process

Unless you've worked in human resources, chances are you've not got a lot of experience conducting a formal interview. That might not trouble you, but remember that an interview goes both ways: as much as you're trying to evaluate them, your candidates are evaluating you. Preparing your interview questions, deciding on how you're going to conduct yourself, and being clear about the expectations you have will show potential hires that you are a professional, organized employer that is worth working for. If you're fighting over a pool of applicants with other businesses in your area, little advantages like that could make all the difference.

10. Take your time

Plenty of startups owners get so carried away with expanding that they rush into things without consideration. But when you move from running a small business by yourself to bringing on new employees, how you go about the hiring process is really important. Don't be tempted to rush the process. If your first batch of applicants isn't up to your standards, don't be afraid to keep searching for that one great candidate. Picking the wrong person in a hurry will lose you more time and money in the long run than it'll save in the short term.