How to Hire Your First Employee in 5 Steps

As your business grows, you’ll notice that the workload becomes too much for just one person to deal with. This is an exciting time, to be sure – it’s a sign that business is going well, and you can bring someone in to help you with the day-to-day.


This is also a great opportunity for you to think about how your role within your business may develop, and how to make the most of it.

But, before the excitement carries you away, there’s a lot of important things to get done. Making sure you follow the correct process can help to lay the foundations for a smooth start while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Read on to find out all the essential steps when it comes to hiring your first employee and how using a recruitment consultancy can help.

Sounding it out:

  • Before you dive in at the deep end and over-commit yourself, give yourself the opportunity to think about and define your needs. Do you need full-time or part-time staff? Can you afford to take staff on? Or would a temporary workforce more suit your overall needs? Is the workplace accessible for employees? Do you know your responsibilities when it comes to tax, pay and pensions?
  • Take the time to self-reflect, too. Are you ready for the challenge of managing someone? Can you delegate without turning dictatorial? If you’re sure you’re ready and you know what your obligations are, then you can get started.

Registering as an employer:

  • To make sure you’re able to pay your staff, you’ll need to register as an employer with HMRC. This can be done up to four weeks before an employment contract comes into effect (i.e., four weeks before your employee’s first day at work). Depending on the size of your business, the way you register with HMRC differs.
  • When using a recruitment consultancy, the payroll side of employment is taken care of for you. There’s no need to worry about pension contributions or holiday allowances as a trained consultant will manage that aspect so you don’t have to.
  • As well as registering as an employer, you’ll also need to get employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer to cover any workplace incidents. Insurance must cover you for at least £5m and come from an authorised insurer. This is a legal requirement, and you can rack up a hefty fine for failing to hold insurance or for failing to display your insurance certificate.

Producing a job description:

  • Writing your job description is a necessary step and depending on the business you run and the type of work that needs to be done, the roles, responsibilities and personnel requirements will vary, this is something that can either be comprised yourself or handled via your recruitment consultant.
  • Knowing what the current scope of work would be and having an idea of how the role may develop could prove useful in helping to shape the beginnings of the job description. The description should encompass all the key information, including roles and responsibilities, requisite skills, and any appropriate experience. Putting these details to paper is also a great exercise to sense check what your true business needs are.
  • Once you’ve defined the role, you can start thinking about how to advertise your vacancy. Ideally, you’ll want to advertise the job on multiple channels to reach the greatest audience possible. This can come at cost of not only time but money also, especially if this would involve taking the time to set up accounts of which to advertise. Recruitment consultancies will have access to a wide range of advertising sources alongside experience on how best to get the role in front of the right people.
  • Make sure your advert is clear in what you’re asking the applicants for – a simple CV, or would you benefit from a cover letter as well?

The recruitment process:

  • Once you’ve attracted some applicants for the position and read through countless CV’s, you can start thinking about inviting the most suitable individuals to interview. Try to have a standardised set of questions you ask all candidates to firstly make sure you get all the information you need in the moment, and secondly to give everyone even ground to be compared on. A good starter for 10 is to cover off past experience, what attracted them to the role, and what their salary expectations are.
  • This may prove to be the most time-consuming stage of the recruitment process and unfortunately gages no guarantees of a successful hire, all while taking up valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. Passing responsibility of this process to a consultancy is a smart way of continuing to run your business while letting the hard work be done for you, as well as knowing you’ll only receive the CV’s that best match your needs.
  • You’ll need to make sure your preferred candidates are eligible to work in the UK. If it’s relevant for the position, consider whether they need a DBS check.
  • When it comes to interview, it’s usually a good practise (though it may not be possible, particularly if you run your business independently rather than alongside a partner) to have a second person with you. Having a second opinion from a trusted aide can help to provide perspective when it comes to deciding on who to offer the job to.
  • A recruitment consultancy will undergo a thorough screening of potential candidates and in some cases, conduct the first initial interview for you.

Payroll and pension:

  • According to the FSB, an annual salary of £25,000 can actually cost employers something closer to £33,000. This is because employers must account for, amongst other things, National Insurance contributions.
  • Knowing the true cost of employment is important, and it can be broken down into a handful of different components: salary, tax, and pension. Paying a salary is, of course, the most important part of the quid pro quo arrangement when it comes to hiring staff. Make sure that you adhere to the most up-to-date minimum wage requirements; this is a legal obligation.
  • Auto-enrolment for pension is fairly clear-cut: you must enrol and make employer’s contributions for all staff aged over 22, but under the State Pension age, earn more than £10,000 per year and work in the UK.
  • When hiring on a temporary basis all of the above is taken off of your hands. To put it bluntly, this is what consultants are trained to do, having an individual with this knowledge by your side throughout the process can ensure that if/when you are ready to take on someone on a permanent basis, you have the confidence that you know what you are doing.

Hiring your first employee is an exciting time. But remember, it can’t be rushed, and it can take some time to find the perfect person for the role and the business. Whoever you hire, it’s important that you’re confident in their ability and attitude to get the job done. So, follow these steps, take your time and you’re bound to find the perfect person.


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