How to hire your first employee

Many new businesses start as one-person operations. As the owner/proprietor, you have complete control over all aspects of the company, while minimizing initial cost outlays. If your goal is to continue to expand the size and scope of the company, a time will come when you need help.

Hiring your first employee is exciting because it means your business is growing and you no longer have to carry the full burden of the workload. Delegating tasks to your new employee frees up your time to focus on the most pressing issues rather than the small details. And if you have put the effort into hiring the right person, they will contribute to the bottom line.

Before starting the recruiting process, it’s important to brush up on labor laws. Make sure that you understand the ethics and boundaries regarding what you may and may not inquire about during interviews.

It’s more complicated than you think

Whether you hire a recruiting service or post a job ad yourself, the goal is to start with a list of qualified applicants and narrow it down to those you would like to meet with in person. Conducting interviews allows you to find out more about them personally as well as their prior work experience. It is at this point that you will want to know what questions you aren’t allowed to ask in an interview.

Depending on the jurisdiction and the context, It may be unlawful to ask an applicant, verbally or in writing, about the following topics: age, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, race, nation of origin, and marital status. Unless seeking to ascertain special accommodations that will need to be met for performing the job, you also may not ask about any emotional, physical, and mental handicaps. While it is best to avoid these subjects, it is important to know the lines that the law draws as those can have dire consequences.

Found someone who seems great and has the experience and qualities you want? Don’t make that offer yet. Before you hire your first employee, there are a few more steps to ensure you have truly found a winner. Conduct a background check to scan for legal trouble or criminal activity, and request at least three references, two professional and one personal that you can contact. Depending on the nature of the job, you may also wish to administer a drug screening.

Working with someone who can help

After you’ve extended an offer to your new employee and they’ve accepted, both of you will need to fill out paperwork required by the U.S. Department of Labor and the IRS. Consult the websites of the agencies for a list of the specific employee records required to file with authorities. Part of this process is to set a pay schedule and choose your employee’s classification, such as independent contractor, common-law employee, etc. It may seem like a mountain of paperwork, but it’s necessary in order to comply with the government agencies that oversee taxes and labor matters.

In California, navigating the variety of laws surrounding labor and employment can be particularly difficult so contacting a business consultant from Los Angeles can assist with clarifying the process and ensure you have properly met all of the necessary standards. Growing your business from a single-person enterprise to a flourishing corporation may come with its own unique challenges, but it’s all worth it when you see your company thrive.