5 Things You Need To Do Before Your First Hire

Are you hiring your first employee? Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you need to do before your employee’s first day on the job. 

1.  Write a Job Description

The job description accomplishes two key things for your business. First, it describes the purpose of the role and the knowledge skills, and experience required to do the job. Second, it documents the essential job functions, outlining the criteria on which you will measure success and protecting you if your employee feels that they are being treated unfairly. A good job description includes a description of your company – including your core values, three to five key responsibility areas that are central to the job, and a high-level list of attributes for the ideal candidate. Don’t rush this exercise, especially the company description; a job posting on a well frequented platform is the most cost-effective advertising you’ll ever get.

2.  Decide on a Recruitment Strategy

Plan the work and work the plan. Recruiting strategy is much like sales in that you will be more successful if you plan your go-to-market strategy in advance and stick to it. Decide upfront if you’re posting the job of sourcing candidates directly and identify the key skills that you will use to screen candidate resumes on the first triage. We always recommend behavioral interview questions to determine which candidates have the best fit for your culture and values. Will anyone else participate in the interview process? If this is your first hire, maybe you have an advisor or key customer with who you would like to have participated in the process. Whatever you decide, document it, including an estimate of the time it will take to complete each step. Then work on the plan. Without a documented process, you are more likely to get stuck in an iterative loop with no decision or skip important steps to expedite it

3.  Draft Your Offer Letter and Employee Handbook

Once you’ve made a decision on the person you want to hire, you’ll want to present a written offer letter that outlines the terms and conditions of employment. We always recommend that an offer is conditional on two things: the right to live and work in the United States and a successful background check. If the position is critical or will have access to confidential information, then signing restrictive covenants may also be an appropriate condition of employment.

The offer letter includes compensation information, including whether your new hire is exempt from overtime and how you will pay them. 

The employee handbook is also helpful at this stage, but if you haven’t written one yet, this can wait for a little longer (weeks not months) so long as you have properly explained your policies to your new hire and you have them sign off on an anti-harassment statement.

Go ahead and order your labor law posters at this point, too. All employers are required to display worker’s rights notices in their offices. If you are a remote organization, there are online versions of these posters that you can post in a conspicuous location on your messaging platform.

4.  Select a Payroll provider and Secure Workers Comp Insurance

If you haven’t already registered for an EIN, it’s time to do it now. You’ll need to do this and register with your state before you set up and run your first payroll.

Selecting an appropriate payroll provider is an important step in becoming an employer for the first time. It’s harder to change providers later, so take your time and evaluate 3-4 alternatives. We do not generally recommend using a PEO, but you may feel that this is the best option for healthcare and retirement benefits. If you are offering benefits, try to sync up in insurance renewals to happen at the start of the calendar year; it simplifies things if you do change payroll systems later.

Workers comp insurance is fairly straightforward for most businesses, however, you will want to work with a broker who truly understands the difference in the different job classifications and coding. It makes a big difference in the final price. You may want to consider Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) as well at this point. You will definitely need it as you grow, but for the first hire, it really depends on your business and risk profile.

5.  Create an Onboarding Plan

The onboarding process is generally thought of as the administrative paperwork that happens on the first day. However, we recommend creating an onboarding plan that covers the first 90 days. It starts with the necessary administrative steps but really focuses on behaviors and values. The goal is to help your hire understand how to integrate effectively and accelerate their performance. The plan includes key meetings, goals for knowledge transfer, and development milestones that they will hit as they reach full capacity in the organization. A solid onboarding plan saves you money and increases employee engagement and retention over time.

You don’t have to do it alone. Working with a partner to serve as your outsourced HR department can take the hard work out of HR and let you focus on leading your people and building your business. Contact us.

Related Articles


The Results

Nonprofits and Trade Associations

A global trade association, financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, came to us for help with guidance through a significant […]

See The Full Case Study

For News and Events

Sign Up For News and Insights on HR, Change Management and Strategies.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.