The following guest post is from Dan Monarko, Online Marketing Manager at The Resumator, a SaaS applicant tracking system and hiring platform trusted by many of the fastest-growing companies in the world, including: Pinterest, Tumblr, Hootsuite, Klout, Posterous, Bitly, Atari and Mashable. I am a Board Member and an investor in The Resumator via Rincon Venture Partners.
Your business is off the ground running and months or years of work brought you to this point. You, my lucky friend, are ready to hire your very first employee. This can be a very stressful exercise for many given the success or failure of your company can be directly tied to making the right choice for your first hire.
What should you look for in hiring your first employee? Here are some tips to consider while prospecting and interviewing candidates for your first employee:
Don’t Hire Your Clone
Your first employee should be someone that will vault your company forward. If you are simply looking for a “yes man” you are better off saving the salary. Hire someone who will not be scared to challenge you and your vision. Ultimately debate will inspire and grow new ideas and successes for your company.
It’s your relationship with employee #1 that will define the direction of your company and lay the groundwork of your corporate culture. A little creative tension can be fantastic for both. You need someone to bounce ideas off of — someone who will bring a new perspective and will tell you when you’re wrong
Hire for Swagger
Urban Dictionary defines swagger as “How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation.” Hire someone who has the right attitude and is confident that they are up for the task at hand.
Do they have the look and feel of someone who wants to see your company succeed as much as you do? Are they confident that no matter what happens — and, trust us, everythingwill happen — they’ll make up a way to deal with it. This is unbelievably critical: early on, there are no established ways to do anything. It’s up to their swagger to keep them running.
When interviewing a candidate try to understand if the person is a visionary or simply an old dog with old tricks. Try asking some of the following questions to get a clear idea of where on the creativity scale your candidates sit.
“What ideas did you contribute to your current role? What were the results?”
“Tell me about one case when you tried to solve a problem with a totally different approach than is normally used. What was the result?”
Find someone who will take any challenge and turn it into an opportunity.
Your first hire should be given tasks that will drive revenue. They may not be a salesperson by title — but they should be able to effectively pitch and sell your product to customers. Early hires must be extremely passionate about your vision and terrific at articulating it to others. It’s their drive and pitching skills that will drive your company through the inevitable hardships of early companies.
Hire someone that is socially grounded and able to deal with all types of people. Salespeople have to be great at winning anyone over, and this is equally true for your core team. Remember: these will be the people leading large teams from executive offices someday.
Go With Your Gut
At the end of the day whoever you decide to hire is going to serve a very important role in the future of your company. Ensure that you hire someone that you could see yourself working with 5 or 10 years down the road. Your first hire should be someone that you can trust 100%, yet might just drive you up a wall every now and again.
Photos courtesy of BigStock