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5 Simple Steps to Hiring Your First Employee

5 Simple Steps to Hiring Your First Employee

It’s awesome to see people creating and growing businesses, particularly when you get to watch them hit certain milestones. Hiring your first employee is one of those milestones. Congratulations!

Whether you’re trying to explode with an innovative tech startup, take your freelancing business to the next level, or anything in between, you’re eventually going to have to hire someone to keep growing.

Don’t worry, it’s not that arduous of a process. Just follow these five simple steps to hiring your first employee!

1. Determine what kind of hire you need.

Do you need a part-time employee, someone to work with you full-time, or someone to whom you can contract out projects and assignments as needed? Maybe you already know the answer. If you’re not sure, answer these three questions first.

How much work is there?

How much work would you be able to give them right now? Another way to phrase this is: How much would you be able to take off your plate, so that you can focus on work only you can do?

How much work will there be?

How much does your new hire need to grow with you? Are you trying to scale? Is the work you’re hiring your first employee to do something you have little-to-no experience in? How important will this person be to you?

How will this affect you financially?

How will choosing a part-time employee, full-time employee, or contract worker affect your finances, tax planning, etc.? Regulations differ between employees and contractors, with an easy differentiator being whether or not you control their schedule.

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It will be best for you to review the IRS’s comparison of independent contractors and employees to better understand the best choice for your situation.

Once you’re able to take a firm stand on which kind of hire you need, then you get to do the most fun job of all!

2. Take care of the paperwork.

Some of this you’ll need to do before you hire, and some of it after. Paperwork is generally everyone’s worst nightmare, but if you take it one step at a time, it doesn’t have to be that bad.

If you’re hiring an independent contractor, things are rather simple. You’ll only need to worry about three forms.

  • Independent Contractor Agreement: This is a form that lays out your professional relationship, ownership of work, and other legal jargon.
  • Form W-9: This is a request for the contractor’s tax ID (or SSN), which is crucial for everyone’s records and payments.
  • Form 1099-Misc.: If you’re going to pay your independent contractor more than $600/yr (likely), then you’ll need to submit this for your end of year tax filings.

If you go on to hire an actual employee, everything changes. It’s not more difficult, per se, but you certainly have more responsibility. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

  • Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
  • Create records for withholding employee taxes
  • Verify your employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Report that you’ve hired an employee to your state
  • Get workers’ compensation insurance (requirements vary by state)
  • Post certain required notices/posters in your office that explain relevant laws

For more information on each of these steps, and a complete guide on how to file your business taxes, click here.

Hiring an independent contractor is probably looking good right about now, but that’s not always the best fit. Before making any assumptions, be sure to review point #1 and the linked guides.

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3. Create a job posting.

How should you approach your job posting?

First things first, you and any partners you have need to know what you’re looking for. If you’re not entirely sure, or if your group can’t come to an agreement, try answering these questions.

  • What’s currently your biggest pain point? What could be done to alleviate that pain point?
  • What will be your biggest pain point in six months? What will you need to do to alleviate that pain point?
  • Would you need your hire to more frequently follow a list of instructions, or have autonomy in their work?
  • Will their duties be more task-oriented, creative, project-oriented, or strategic?
  • What interaction will your hire have with you and/or any partners you have?

Once you’ve answered these questions, then you’re ready to craft a job description. Your job description should include:

  • A description of your company
  • A description of your ideal candidate
  • Key or primary duties
  • Less frequent responsibilities
  • Targeted compensation range and any benefits

How should you present your opportunity?

You might hear recommendations to focus on keywords, which many interpret to mean “use a lot of buzzwords.” Don’t do that. Instead, focus on accurately representing your company.

If you’re a trendy creative agency run by a few twenty-somethings, mirror your job description to that personality. If you’re a private practice lawyer looking for a secretary, act like it.

The degree to which you should be professional or casual in a job description depends on the degree to which you are professional or casual in your work.

Now you need to post that job description. Uploading it to Proven will automatically post it to all the major job boards, like Monster, Indeed, and 100+ others. Then you’ll get any responses aggregated through Proven instead of having to go to every individual job posting site.

It’s also a best practice to share your job posting across Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites. After all, you’ll probably trust a friendly referral over a stranger’s application.

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4. Conduct the right interviews.

Once you start talking to candidates who meet your criteria, I’ll trust that you know enough about your business and the personalities involved to make the right choice. But here are a few tips for what might be your first time interviewing people.

Don’t talk about these things.

There are a handful of questions you need to stay away from for legal reasons, like those relating to age, marital status, arrests, sexual orientation, mental health, religion, and race.

Basically, stay away from everything people would recommend avoiding during a dinner conversation.

If you get into these topics and choose not to hire that candidate, you could be on the chopping block for discrimination. No one wants that.

For a full breakdown, refer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Confirm compensation.

Make sure you and your candidate are in the same ballpark regarding compensation. If those expectations are not met first, everything else is liable to fall apart.

That’s why it’s important to have this information in your job posting, and why you should confirm you’re on the same page early on.

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Ask either of these two questions.

What would be your ideal situation? Or, what are you looking for in your next step?

Either of these questions should help you to flush out whether your candidate is spewing whatever they think you want to hear to get the job, or if the two of you would actually be a good fit.

A good follow up question could be: What would be a deal breaker for you?

On one hand, you can see if there’s going to be tension with this hire in the role you need. On the other hand, you get to see if they actually know what they want.

5. Take your pick.

If you’re following these simple steps to hiring your first employee, then you have so far decided what’s best for you, completed the appropriate paperwork, put the word out about your opportunity, and spoken with several candidates.

Now all you have to do is actually hire someone! (And finish the appropriate paperwork; see point #2.)

Running a business is a difficult process, and finding the right personnel can be a big stressor. How do you find the right people? How do you make sure your own tail is safe come tax season? But this doesn’t have to be that stressful. Just follow these simple steps to hiring your first employee, and you’ll be good to go!

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Kenneth Burke

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on July 15, 2019

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

“The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

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Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

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However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

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8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

“Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

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If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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