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5 Things You Should Look for When Hiring Your First Employee If you are a big company it is not so damaging if you hire the wrong person, but when you are a new business and hire the very first person and that person turns out to be a bad fit, then it can be very damaging to you

By Dr. Finn Majlergaard

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There are many challenges to cope with when starting up a business. One of them is finding the right people and especially the very first employee. As an entrepreneur you have thousand things on your plate and you have to learn to deal with a lot of issues that are not your core competences. It can be legal issues, tax issues, logistic issues and of course human resource issues as soon as you are ready to hire your first employee. Maybe you have never been an employer before and maybe you have never recruited people before.

I had recruited a lot of people before quitting corporate life in 2001 to start my first company. Even with that background it was extremely difficult and risky. First of all I realised that suddenly it was my own money I had to use to pay the salary of someone else. How could I be sure that he or she was worth the money? Secondly it was really challenging to make a profile for the right candidate because there were so many areas where we need resources but I could only hire one person in the beginning.

If you are a big company it is not so damaging if you hire the wrong person, but when you are a new business and hire the very first person and that person turns out to be a bad fit, then it can be very damaging to you.

Here are my generic list of 5 things you look for when you are about to hire your very first employee.

  1. Attitude
    Hire someone who share your vision and dream for what you want to achieve with your venture. Don't hire someone who just need a job and don't hire someone who can't cope with the unpredictable and sometimes chaotic life in a startup company.

  2. Competences Where you are Weak
    We human beings have a tendency to hire clones of ourselves, but that is bad for business and in particular when you are a startup. Find out what your weakest point is and look for a person who are particular strong in that field. Often you are very strong on the product or service you want to develop and lack skills in sales, marketing, legal, accounting or tax. So find out which of your weak competences you need the most and find a person who is a world champion in that particular field

  3. Same Type of Personality
    As diversity in competences is important similarities in personalities are equally important in the beginning. It is because you and your first employee both have to accept and like the uncertainly and risk it is starting something up. And similarities in personalities in the initial team will help develop a company culture you can develop on but who will carry the right cultursal DNA in the future.

  1. Same Ethical Values
    You and your first employee need to share the same ethical values. It can be your approach to customer service, to legal issues, to trust, literally everything where you make your judgement and decision based on personal values. That is because you need to be able to trust your first employee more than anyone else despite he or she is your biggest financial and operational risk.

  2. Flexibility
    As a startup company you can't predict anything. You first hire might be a sales person, but three months down the road your requirements might have changed without you having the ability to hire more people. Your fist employee must understand and embrace, that this uncertainty is an opportunity to work with many things he or she would never be allowed to if they were employed in a big company.

These were my 5 generic recommendations for what to look for when hiring your very first employee.

Dr. Finn Majlergaard

CEO of Gugin

Dr. Finn Majlergaard is the CEO of Gugin, helping entrepreneurs and companies around the world to become more successful internationally. He does this by helping his clients leverage their cultural diversity. Culturally diverse teams are more innovative and a diversified international network gives endless new opportunities. He also helps entrepreneurs develop a strong company culture from the very beginning;

He founded Gugin in 2001 and he has worked with more than 600 companies and entrepreneurs around the world, helping them become better at leveraging the opportunities and mitigating the risks of a globalised world.

He is also an Author, Keynote Speaker, Board Member and Entrepreneur and he teaches at several universities and business schools around the world on global leadership, cross-cultural leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr.Majlergaard holds a doctoral degree from International School of Management in Paris, Tokyo, New York and Shanghai and an MBA from Henley Management College, UK.


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