Hiring Your First Employee: What You Need to Know
Congratulations on growing your business and being ready to take on your first employee! It can be an exciting and anxious time bringing someone new into your workplace for the first time.
To make sure you are fully prepared for this huge milestone, there are certain things you should know in terms of government regulations, legal requirements and more.
Here are some things you need to know before you add someone new into your business:
1. Get an employer identification number (EIN)
The EIN is a legal requirement by the IRS for every business that has employees. It is a distinct nine-digit number which is used to identify your business for tax purposes. If your business is registered as a partnership or corporation, you may already have an EIN. If not, you can apply via the IRS website. Check on your state’s labor department website to find out the process for applying for an EIN. Every state has distinct processes for businesses to obtain their EIN.
2. Register your business with your state labor department
Once you hire your first employee, you will have to start paying state unemployment compensation taxes,which will contribute to your state’s unemployment compensation fund. The aim of this fund is to provide assistance to workers who have lost their jobs. You can find out the details of your state’s labor department by going to the Department of Labor’s main website.
3. Collect records for taxes
One of the main things you need to know when hiring your first employee is how you will withhold their taxes. Before hiring your first employee, you need to complete three types of documentation:
4. Create personnel files
Set up a personnel file for your employee to keep any documents that are related to their job, such as job applications,IRS Form W-4, performance reviews and sign up forms for employee benefits. You should also have a process for keeping confidential information such as, medical details and immigration status safe. The more organized your personnel files are, the easier it is to access this information if the need arises.
5. Have a clear definition of the role
Before taking on your first employee, you need to understand the role that you are hiring for. Make a list of what your business needs and the most immediate support that’s required. You also need to consider the duties that your new hire will be responsible for.
When defining the role,consider factors like:
You also need to think about the candidate’s background, skillset and experience that will be needed for this role. After you have done this research, you need to write a good job description to attract the most appropriate applicants.
If you are looking for ways to get the best outcomes from your application process, download our 5 ways to improve your application performance ebook today.
6. Source your candidates
When sourcing your candidates, you can use referrals from past colleagues, different platforms like, free job boards or professional networking sites, such as, LinkedIn. Ideally, you should use different platforms to source the best candidates.
To ensure that you find the most suitable candidates, you can use Fountain Boost to get better results. With Fountain you can advertise using free job boards or,to spread your net wider. Tell us how many employees you need and we will recommend a budget and post your job advert to these platforms. You can sort out all your applications in one convenient dashboard, so there’s no need to log into different websites to review the applications you receive.
Sign up fora free trial (no credit card need) to see how Fountain can Boost your search for the perfect first employee.
7. Set up interviews
Rather than initially scheduling a face-to-face interview, you can use the pre-screening method of video interviews to ensure that you only invite the most suitable candidates to an in-person interview.
As a small business just starting out, saving time and resources is critical and you want to be sure that only the right candidates take up your time. With Fountain, we have a videorecording feature that enables you to ask your applicants to record a video on their smartphone to talk about an aspect of themselves, or the job. For example, you can ask a candidate to discuss their career aspirations and why they want this job.
Using video recordings before setting up face-to-face interviews allows you to make a decision about important skills that candidates will need - for example, communication. After using the video interview to pre-screen your applicants, you can then invite them for a face-to-face interview after you have decided on an interview panel.
Ideally, there should be more than one person on the interview panel. If you are a small business, you could outsource this function to a H.R professional so that they can ensure that everything is legally above board.
8. Run a background check
When you believe you have identified the right candidate, it is recommended that you run a background check.This part of the process is important to help safeguard yourself, your business and also your potential new hire.
Check with your state to find out the types of background checks you can carry out. For instance, some states have a ‘ban the box’ policy where you are not allowed to ask about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications.
When you have determined that you can run a background check and the timeframe, you should use software that makes this simple and easy. With Fountain, we integrate with the most reliable and trustworthy background checking services to ensure that the information that your candidate has given is accurate. Using the background check services with your recruitment software makes the hiring of your first employee smarter and more efficient.
9. Ensure that your first employee has the right to work in the U.S.
You have to make sure that your first employee and all other employees can legally work in the U.S.If you have not done your due diligence and your employees do not have the right to work in the U.S., you will face fines and could even be liable to criminal prosecution.
To determine if your first hire is eligible to work in the U.S., you should:
This documentation can include a U.S. passport, permanent residence card or a driver’s license,combined with something like a Social Security card.
You can find information about the documentation your first hire will need to prove their eligibility to work in the U.S by reviewing the following lists:
Your first employee will need to show a combination of documents from the above list to satisfy the state and the federal government that they are lawfully entitled to work in the U.S.
Generally, completing a Form I-9 and seeing the relevant documents would be adequate to determine eligibility.
However, sometimes this is not the case if you are taking on employees in certain states. You will then need to enroll in the E-Verify Program.
10. Apply for workers compensation insurance
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has a useful guide about workers compensation insurance, which covers employees who may become ill or injured at your place of work. Different states may have different stipulations for you to obtain an insurance policy for your employees, so you need to review your state’s requirements before taking out your workers compensation insurance.
11. Set up a payroll system
When you hire your first employee, you need to have a reliable system to pay them accurately, on time and also withhold the relevant taxes. You can do payroll yourself, outsource this function to an accountant or use a payroll software. Most small businesses use payroll software such as, Xero or Sage. No matter how you choose to implement your payroll, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics, for example:
12. Keep workplace posters in obvious places
It’s your responsibility to display workplace posters in obvious places like staff rooms to inform your employee of their rights and your responsibilities. This is a requirement by the Department of Labor and is non-negotiable. You can obtain these posters for free. The Department of Labor has information about the workplace posters required at federal level and also for different states.
When hiring your first employee, you need to think about things such as:
Be sure to seek legal advice as to what is required of you, as this post is for general information only.
One thing you should familiarize yourself with is modern hiring software. As your company grows,invest in the best software to source, recruit and on board the most suitable candidates, fast.
Fountain provides all the functionality, such as easy communication by SMS and integration with other recruitment services, for a complete hiring process.
Sign up today for a free trial of Fountain (no credit card required) to see how we can help you to hire your first and future employees.
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