August 18, 2022
Oz Karabadjak

An eight-step guide to hiring your first employee

Hiring your first employee is a scary experience as a small business owner. The people bring on board early on in your journey will play a big role in shaping the future and direction of your business. To make sure you nail the hiring process and leave a good impression on your first employee, follow our simple eight-step guide.

An eight-step guide to hiring your first employee

Hiring your first employee is a scary experience as a small business owner.

The people bring on board early on in your journey will play a big role in shaping the future and direction of your business.

To make sure you nail the hiring process and leave a good impression on your first employee, follow our simple eight-step guide.

1. Understand whether you are hiring for the right reasons

Before beginning the hiring process, you first need to figure out the reason why you’re thinking about hiring.

There are many reasons why business owners might come to this decision. Sadly, not all of them are necessarily the right ones.

If you’re hiring to improve productivity or solve issues with your operations, a new staff member is unlikely to fix the root cause of your problems.

Conversely, if your business is going well and you want to expand your servicing capacity, hiring can be a great solution. Equally, if you’re looking to broaden the expertise inside your business, hiring high-quality can be a great step toward driving business growth.

Other important questions you need to ask yourself include:

  • What tasks do you need someone to perform?
  • How many hours do you need filled?
  • What is your desired outcome from bringing on a new employee?

Fully understanding your reasons for hiring will ensure you’re making the best decision for your business and potential candidates.

2. Understand your legal obligations

There are many legal requirements and obligations that need to be met when you become an employer.

Before hiring, it’s your duty to research the pay rates, classifications, insurance and other employment conditions that will apply to your new worker.

For most employees, this information can be found through the relevant award (you can search it up on this page of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website).

You will also need to seek advice from a legal professional for help in preparing an employment contract for any new member of staff.

Lastly, all employers in Australia are required to take up insurance for workers that will cover them in the event of a work-related injury or illness. For Victorian businesses, the WorkSafe website has all the information you need to know regarding workers’ compensation.

3. Define the ideal employee for the job

Before you start looking, you need to know what it is you’re looking for.  

What does your ideal candidate look like?

Outside of the required skills and qualifications, there are many other important factors to consider.

Think about the desired work culture you wish to cultivate and what type of person would fit into this dynamic. If you want to promote a fast-paced and energetic workplace, an ideal candidate might be someone highly ambitious and driven. If your desired culture is more relaxed and creative, perhaps an easygoing people person would be better suited to your environment.

Understanding the value of a good character in your business is often understated. Whilst certain skills and experience can always be picked up on the job, it’s much harder to force a personality to adapt to your workplace’s culture and values.

4. Write the perfect job description

Writing the perfect job description requires you to take an analytical and systematic approach to the hiring process.

Even though you may foresee the position involving many different roles and responsibilities, it’s your duty to list each one of these clearly and succinctly on paper.

It’s also important to give potential applicants reasons to want to come on board. Sell the positives of your business and possible career opportunities that this position could present.

With all this in mind, you must avoid exaggerating or misleading in order to attract a wider talent pool. Falsely promotion will only lead to confusion or discontentment once the position has been filled.

For job description templates and specific advice on writing your job description, this government resource will be able to help you get started.

small business owner looks through document while on the phone

5. Find the appropriate channels to advertise your job opportunity

Your target audience will differ depending on the skills, hours and experience required for the role. Think about the best way to target these people directly at the least amount of cost to your business.

If you run a local business in the community; community noticeboards or local groups on social media are a great no-cost solution to getting your job out there.

For professional roles in the servicing industry, LinkedIn can be a great way to attract a lot of attention for the position. Other job search engines like Indeed and Jora also allow you to advertise job vacancies for free.

Advertising your job vacancy at no cost will also allow you to gauge the talent on the market without feeling pressured to make a decision.

6. Nail the job interview

When it’s your first hire, conducting the job interview can be more nerve-racking for you than it is for the applicant. Luckily, there’s nothing to be worried about.

The sole purpose of the job interview is to narrow down the applicant pool in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The style of the interview should be dictated by what qualities you deem important for the position. If the personality of the applicant is important, allow time for a casual chat to get to know each candidate. If there is a certain skill or ability is required, give applicants a task to demonstrate their capabilities in this area.

Remember, while the applicants will be trying to sell themselves, you should also be selling your business as an appealing work environment. Explain your vision for the company and the opportunities that could come from the role.

As part of your due diligence, take the time to contact any referees offered by leading candidates.

Once you have all the information you need to make a decision, select the candidate that best fits your ‘ideal employee’ for the job.

7. Get the initiation right

Getting the initiation done right for your new employee will be the foundation for their tenure at the business.

During the training process, clearly outline each role and responsibility so that your employee understands exactly what’s expected of them. This will also involve ensuring that your employee has all the appropriate equipment and resources to perform their role effectively.

Leaving a good first impression will help your new staff member feel included and motivated to be a part of the ongoing success of your business.

Lastly, make sure that your employee feels comfortable communicating any questions or problems they may have about performing their new job.

8. Effectively manage ongoing administration

The final stage of the hiring process is staying on top of your ongoing administration responsibilities.

Some of these duties will include:

  • Completing an employment contract
  • Keeping staff records (including annual sick leave)
  • Registering for PAYGW (Pay as you go withholding)
  • Registering for STP (Single Touch Payroll). An accounting system like Xero will assist here.
  • Ensuring you have all the correct details for your employee (ie: superannuation details)
  • Registering for WorkCover

This is where it’s important to speak to your accountant who will be able to help ease some of the administrative burden.

For a deep dive into hiring your first employee as a small business owner, you can listen to the full episode of our podcast below.

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