The Five

Learning Series

August 30 2016 // 5:00 AM

Five Things to Do Before Hiring Your First Employee: Part 2

Written by Dave Huffman |

Five Things to Do Before Hiring Your First Employee: Part 2

Here are five more things that will help you if you are looking to grow your small business or if you are just starting your own firm.

1.    How should you ADVERTISE the position?

When you are just starting out, I believe it is easier and better to keep your search local.  There are usually many qualified candidates in most areas looking for a new or different opportunity or challenge.  Local candidates are likely to be known to an associate who can vouch for them and tell you if they are truly qualified.  If you do not have luck locally, then expand your search to areas within a few hours’ drive so candidates don’t expect you to fly them in for an interview and pay their expenses.  Back when I ran my own small business, I would advertise in my local paper; I also let clients and colleagues know I was looking for qualified candidates.  In this day and age, you could post to a website such as Indeed or  These options were not available when I was searching for candidates.  While I believe these sites are a faster way to reach significantly more potential candidates, you may receive more resumes than you want or have time to deal with.  

2.    How do you ORGANIZE your candidates?

Once you start advertising, expect to receive many resumes.  Get ready to organize them.  I placed the resumes in three different folders by levels of qualification.  The groupings I used were qualified, possibly qualified, and not qualified.  Unfortunately, I found that most of the resumes came from people who were not remotely qualified for the position I was advertising for.  I don’t know what some of these people were thinking.  I was advertising for a structural engineer with three to five years of experience who could come in and do design and drafting without having to hold their hand the entire time.  Most of the resumes, you will probably find, come from people with no background—recent graduates of technical schools where they were taught drafting or a non-engineering discipline.

After reviewing the resumes, I ranked them by who I thought would be the best fit and had the type of experience I was looking for.  The other resumes I set aside.  Those that may possibly be qualified or just didn’t present themselves well, I kept ready in case no candidates in the first group worked out.  I set aside the resumes for people who were not remotely qualified.  I kept a few of these resumes, usually for draftsmen who had good experience and stable careers without bouncing from job to job.  You may want to interview these candidates in the future as the business grows.  

3.    Get your office READY.

After I determined who I felt to be the best candidates, but before I wanted to begin the interview process, I formulated what the offer should be based on the candidate.  Even before I scheduled the interviews, I felt it necessary to prepare the office so it was ready for a new employee.  You should have the desks, cabinets, computers, and any other items you feel are required for the employee, already in place.  This will help the candidate know you are serious about hiring an employee.

4.    SCHEDULE your interviews

You may contact candidates by phone or internet depending on the circumstances.  I have always believed in the face-to-face interview.  I know that currently there are a lot of phone interviews for the first interview.  Phone interviews may not provide you with the amount or quality of information you desire or need to determine the candidate’s qualifications.  You cannot determine a candidate’s body language or mannerisms over the phone.  Even with Skype, most candidates will only allow you to see what they want to show you. 

5.    FOLLOW UP with your best candidate

Bring your top candidate into the office and be prepared to make an offer if you are positive this is the candidate you want to hire.  Be alert, as the candidate may contradict the information presented in the resume or interview.  Don’t be afraid to change your mind about the qualifications of a candidate during this follow up or second interview.  If the candidate checks out on all conditions—including references—make the offer.  Give the candidate a time frame for when you expect an answer.  Sometimes, candidates may just be trying to get a better offer from their current employer.  Don’t be discouraged.  Move on if the candidate decides not to accept your offer.  Chances are, that candidate wouldn’t have been the right fit for you anyway. 

Until next time, I’m Dave Huffman.  Thank you for reading.


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