We have come across many colleagues who quit their jobs, started off something on their own and called themselves entrepreneurs. However, it is important to understand that unless you employ people and run a business which makes (or at least tries) to make money for you, you can at best be called a self-employed person or a  professional (just like a doctor or lawyer or a CPA). The whole idea of business is to bring labour, capital, ideas and good execution together so that the business makes money for you and is scalable.

Your First Hire

So if you have started as an entrepreneur, what would be your first hire?  This depends on various factors. How much cash you have? Do you have any gaps in your own skills (like business development for example)?

Our understanding is that most people who dare to venture out as entrepreneurs have a basic level of most skills required for the various roles in a start-up. So given this fact, most entrepreneurs would do well to hire their first recruiter who is more of an assistant to handle various sub-processes rather than do recruitment independently. This would be more of a force multiplier to increase the effectiveness or productivity of the entrepreneur.

This person could be actually a fresher or someone with upto a years work experience (ideally but not necessarily recruitment experience). Remember that a new start-up cannot afford higher salaries. Also it is very difficult to attract
employees when you barely have any office infrastructure, brand nor clients
worth mentioning. Nowadays co-working spaces can solve at least the
infrastructure issues.

So what are the competencies that you would look for in this first hire? We have the following suggestions:

1. Decent communication skills (spoken & email writing skills)

2. Social person (not an introvert)

3. Perseverance (not giving up)

4. Overall personality (pleasant)

5. Ability to follow instructions

6. Ability to work in a team

Much as the communication skills can be judged by speaking with the person and maybe by asking her to write an email by giving a situation, the other attributes are
more difficult to judge. These can however be judged to a large extent by
conducting structured competence based interviews (CBI) about which we shall
dedicate a whole article to later in the series.

Tasks For Your First Hire

The moment you start working with a team member it becomes important to now invest (if not already done) in a good recruitment CRM application. This would allow you to allocate specific tasks to your new hire as well as monitor the progress at every stage. Typically the work that you would allocate to such a new hire would be to –

1. Format JDs or briefs for candidates

2. Source candidates for specific positions

3. Establish first contact with candidates to check their interest

4. Co-ordination for meeting or call  scheduling/ selection process

5. Any documentations that may be required by the client

6. Interact with potential candidates on social media and professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Slack and Github)

7. Craft and send recruiting emails

8. Identify qualified candidate profiles using various sourcing techniques (e.g. Boolean Search)

9. Develop talent pipelines for future hiring needs

10. Measure conversion rates, including numbers of passive candidates who turn into applicants, get invited to interviews, get offers and get hired

11. Ask for referrals from current employees and external networks

12. Maintain candidate databases (e.g. via our Applicant Tracking System)

13. Communicate with past applicants regarding new job opportunities

Most of the above activities are transactional in nature and would save the entrepreneur a lot of time to do the value-added work of business development, candidate shortlisting, convincing, etc.

The math is pretty simple. If you can double your earning say from $20,000 a month to $40,000 (as you can work on twice the number of positions) by paying a new hire $4000 – $5000 (or whatever is the entry-level salary) you are making good progress. The entrepreneur, however, needs to make initial investments in training & hand holding the new hire.

If you want to reduce costs or reduce risks further you can also hire a Sourcer in a country with low wages. This could cost anything between $1500  to $2000 (depending on the timezone difference and specific language skills). To do this you will need to go through some contract staffing agencies in those countries.

Adding Members To Your Team

Well, this is just the beginning. Once you have started gaining revenues, it is now time to scale further. The next team member you hire must be someone with complementary skills. So if you are good at business development, then you must hire a recruiter and vice versa.

The competencies to look for in a recruiter would be:

1. Familiarity with use of recruiting tools (ATS, CRM, LinkedIn etc)

2. Ability to connect with and relate to candidates – Empathy

3. Good communication skills (spoken & Written)

4. Systematic and diligent

5. Self driven & Resourceful

6. Ability & willingness to learn continuously

The competencies to look for in a business development resource:

1. Networker & an extrovert

2. Good communicator & Presentation skills

3. Perseverance

4. Achievement Oriented

5. Person who stays updated with the latest trends/happenings in the Industry

There can be many qualities and skills that are desirable, though we have listed out some that we feel are most important.  As mentioned earlier, we shall be dedicating an entire article later on how to assess such skills/competencies.

The type of team that you hire completely depends on the kind of recruitment positions you are handling or wish to handle. For example, if you are doing senior level recruitment then obviously your team also needs to be a little experienced (say at least 10 years or more of experience).

If you are recruiting for a specific industry it helps if the recruiter has had exposure to the industry or at least has a good understanding of the industry. We also believe it is always desirable to have a gender balance team rather than all boys or all girls team.

Irrespective of the team size, be it 3, 4 or more members, it is extremely important to have daily team meeting/interaction to share what kind of work each member is doing, share notes, take suggestions, etc. As teams grow larger this needs to be enabled by the use of good technology/communication tools.

Mentoring & Training Your Team

Another thing we suggest entrepreneurs do right from the beginning (even when you have only one team member) to have learning sessions with the team on a weekly basis (at least). Now, these may not be elaborate training sessions, but more in the form of a 45 – 60 mins session every Friday afternoon (or any other suitable day/time). The topic could be anything related to the work that a team member
is involved
with. Each team member would be responsible to conduct one learning session every week on a rotation basis.

For example, if you are recruiting Forex dealers for a bank, the session could be around:

1. What is Forex dealing?

2. Some terms associated with Forex dealing

3. Understanding the structure of the Forex teams in banks

4. The job description of the Forex dealers

5. The qualifications, licenses & skills that client is looking for

6. In which companies/banks are such candidates available

7. What are the salary levels for different levels of experience of such dealers

8. What is the career path for such candidates?

Another example could be a session on a specific recruitment activity like sourcing:

1. Job description for which candidates sources

2. Methods used for sourcing (database, social media, headhunting, etc.)

3. Communication (email format etc) used to establish communication

4. Brief prepared regarding  job and client

5. Challenges faced while sourcing

6. Some tips & tricks

What such sessions do is that over a period of time it build a learning culture in the organisation (what the HR folks like to call a Learning Organisation). The person conducting the session not only becomes an expert (as she prepares well to answer questions as well) but also improves upon her presentation skills over time. Soon you have a team with greater knowledge, expertise & skills.

It is also a good idea to have a senior member mentoring junior team members by
taking them along for business meetings with clients or while interacting with
candidates. A lot can be learnt by just being present on the field.

Periodic Individual Review

A periodical review (ideally weekly) of each team member one on one is a must to keep track of each members progress and to also provide timely guidance. Each review must consist of the discussion on activities handled, results achieved and the goals ( though short term) till the next review. It is always a good idea to maintain a notebook for reviews (unless you use some tech tools now available online) to keep a record of the salient points of discussion. This is very useful to do an objective appraisal at the end of the year for rewards & salary hikes.

Other hygiene factors also need to be followed like giving a proper offer/appointment letter to your employees (on your letterhead), giving them the computer/laptop, company email id, comfortable workstation, initial briefing, etc. It is also important to be always compliant on issues of the labour laws, taxation, etc as well as to always pay the salary on time the fixed date (be it weekly fortnightly or monthly).

Well as a recruitment team becomes larger and larger and start working across various industries or even multiple locations the challenges of team structure, leadership & team bonding only start increasing.