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Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Hiring Your First Employee

If you’re a small business owner, you likely started your business so you could be your own boss and take your wedding and event business in the direction you wanted most! But with the majority of weddings taking place between April and October, your business is entering the busy season. Is it time to enlist the help of a brave first employee or expand into a small team?

If you’ve hit the critical “breaking point” where you’ve decided you can no longer manage your booming business on your own, you know there’s a whole new list of legal, financial and time obligations associated with bringing on your first employee. It can be a lot to handle – you are, after all, just one person right now – but it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might think.

To help you navigate these new waters, we’ve created our list of the precautions to keep in mind as you go about hiring your first employees!

Decide on all the details ahead of time

Before you even bring in your first candidate for the position, make sure you have all the details set in your mind (and in the job listing). Come up with a formal list of activities the new employee would be involved in, a “wish list” of skills and experience you’d like the employee to possess, and more specific details like salary and employee classification. Make sure those details are compliant with minimum wage requirements as well as other Department of Labor standards.

Don’t skip the background check

Don’t just rely on your instincts – make sure to do your due diligence when hiring your first employee by performing a background check. While you may feel that a candidate seems trustworthy, there are a lot of liabilities associated with new employees. Anyone you hire is a representative of your business, so you should make sure they represent you in the correct way and, more importantly, keep your business out of potential litigation. For example, firms like Sterling and Intellicorp are examples in the area of background checks, and don’t forget to notify the applicant in writing that you are performing a background check if you do decide to move forward with one (it’s required by law).

Take the time to check references

References can be a huge part of a hiring a new employee, yet they’re often skipped because of time constraints. References can tell you far more than what’s on a candidate’s resume! It’s important to speak with people who know the candidate both professionally and personally to get a good understanding of his or her ability to do the job and everyday personality. Ask the applicant to provide a few references, and make a few phone calls following the interview.

Employee the “good” type of profiling

Resumes say a lot about a candidate’s ability to do specific job functions, but they don’t typically divulge a lot about a person’s behavior. Profiling exams that help you determine an applicant’s personality, situational judgment or aptitude can be a valuable way to evaluate the applicant in how he or she would work with your business. If personality is a big part of the position, you’ll want to be sure that they have what you’re looking for before you hire and that your personalities are complimentary. Also, remember that you’ll be working with this person very closely, so you’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable and can trust the employee with a variety of tasks and assignments.

Remember that some questions are off limits

There are some questions you are not legally allowed to ask during the course of an interview to make sure you’re not intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against the candidate. For example, while asking an applicant his or her age may not seem like a big deal, it’s actually unlawful under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Other off-limits questions are questions pertaining to the candidate’s sexual orientation, marital status, religious affiliation or race. Be sure to know what to avoid so you don’t slip up and potentially make an applicant uncomfortable!

Keep strict records

Before your new hire’s first day, there’s a lot of paperwork involved. You’ll need information about the new employee, such as full name, social security number, mailing address, birth date and gender. You’ll also need to record the bases on which the employee’s wages are paid, the hourly pay rate, total daily or weekly earnings and more. For a full list of regulations, check out the Department of Labor website! And don’t forget – a new employee also means differences when it comes to filing taxes, so be sure to check the Internal Revenue Service’s employer requirements as well.

Hiring your first employee and the small team beyond is a big step, but don’t let all the details weigh you down. Keep these guidelines in mind and you’ll get the help you need without a lot of extra time spent!

Did you recently expand your business? How did the process of hiring your first employees go?