Five MUST KNOW’s for entrepreneurs new to hiring

Posted by Annie Niehoff in Entrepreneurship

Business is booming and you’re ready to hire full-time employees to take your company from start-up status to the next level.276639499_f2b002ceaa_m

But, you don’t have a background in human resources and want to avoid a recruiting agency. You are unsure how to proceed.

By developing an internal hiring process, you can save money and ensure you’re hiring the right people for your company.

Below are a few tips to get you through the hiring process.


Whether your company is moving from project to project or you have written processes, having a clearly designed hiring process is essential for your sanity as well as the candidate’s.

Show candidates you are serious about your business and that you have put thought into the future of the company and your employees.

Proactive candidates will be asking about next steps. You should be able to quickly tell them what to expect. Setting expectations for candidates will save you time and energy responding to emails and will put a candidate's mind at ease.

Employees have a greater effect on a start-up's performance and projected growth than they do for an established company, so it is vital to hire the right people.

Communicating a thorough hiring process will allow you to hold candidates to a high standard, even if your company doesn’t have a history yet to show a proven track record.

For help creating a process, begin by writing out each step numerically. Be sure to add where action items exist and who is responsible for completing them. If you are a visual person, a flow chart is a very effective way to write out processes.

Where to find candidates?

Depending on where you’re located and your industry, finding qualified candidates can prove to be a difficult task. A company of any size should welcome referrals from current employees, which can be cost effective and help you avoid receiving a bulk of unqualified candidates.

If the current employee is a hard worker and a high performer, it is likely they know people with similar values which will help you reach known high-performers quickly.

You should also reach out to your personal network to let people know you’re hiring. Make sure to speak with people in your business network…not just family and friends.

Asking those in your professional network for their input shows you trust that person’s knowledge, which is a great tactic for developing strong relationships in your industry.

Finally, look for free job posting databases – such as community or industry blogs. University job databases are another way to find candidates. You can even reach out to professors directly…they typically have an extensive network.



Follow up. follow up. follow up.

I cannot stress this step enough.

Have you ever applied or interviewed for a job and never heard back from them again? It's a terrible feeling which does not provide closure. Nor does it foster a warm relationship with candidates who, otherwise, may have spoken positively about your company to others.3555228460_216541cd89_m

After you have interviewed a candidate, at minimum they should be informed that they will not be offered a position in a timely manner. Having different decline letters for those who were rejected at different times during the recruitment process will show you care and will make it more likely for a declined candidate to keep interest in the future.

Someone who is rejected after a face to face interview should be given a more in-depth decline letter than someone who was rejected immediately.

And the follow up process doesn't stop once a candidate is hired. When a candidate accepts an offer from your company you should have an on-boarding process in place.

This could be a sheet with their co-worker’s names and titles, suggestions of restaurants nearby, where to park on the first day, what time to show up, who to ask for and numerous other tips an employee could find helpful on their first day.

An on-boarding sheet will ease nerves for employees on their first day as well as prove your company culture as thorough and welcoming.

HR Laws

You may not have a SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) license or a law degree – that is okay! You can and should still hire internally, but you should familiarize yourself with HR laws before conducting interviews.

If you know someone in your network with an HR background, buy them coffee while you pick their brain or ask if they will review your interview questions. Even unintentionally breaking a law leaves your company vulnerable. Here are a few HR tips:

  1. Know what you can and cannot ask. Familiarize yourself with protected classes here:
  2. NEVER write on a resume.
  3. Assume that any email you send could be read in front of a federal court, which is generally a good tip, but applies to discussing a candidate as well.
  4. Do not share information about the decision making process outside of the employees who were involved in the hiring decision.
  5. Don’t rely solely on this blog for your HR knowledge…these tips are suggestions only and not meant to replace legal advisement


Ultimately, the interview process is a time where a candidate is receiving an impression of your company, while you are trying to learn more about them. Be authentic and mindful of the impression you are leaving candidates during each part of the interview process.

Good luck hiring and let me know in the comments what you’ve seen work in your hiring process!

  • Very good information. Most entrepreneurs need help with hiring but can’t afford it. All of you tips are right on. Two books I highly recommend to entrepreneurs on this topic are You’re Not the Person I Hired by Boydell, Deutsch and Remillard and Hire Right, Higher Profits by Lee Salz. The first is for everyone who is going to hire any position. The second is a must read if you are hiring salespeople.