How to Hire Your First Kick-Ass Employee
Career Growth

How to Hire Your First Kick-Ass Employee

This article is part of our ongoing First-time Manager series. 

You just got the great news: you get to hire a person (or two) to support you. But how do you ensure you’re picking the right talent for your needs?

Like many millennials, you’ve gotten used to “wearing many hats” and staying late more often than not. Fortunately, your boss has taken notice (and actually cares) that you're overtaxed. In fact, she says you can hire one or two new team members for additional support.

What happens now?

First of all, give yourself major kudos! Far too many single employees do the jobs of many, which can lead to burnout and work-induced illness. Reaching a point where you get to hire some help is a big step towards a long, productive career.

Next, take a step back. It’s a big responsibility to lead a hiring process, so it’s important to think carefully about your priorities and action plan. Here are five must-follow tips to ensure a thoughtful approach: 


One of the biggest mistakes first-time managers (and some experienced ones, too) make is pulling resumes with redundant, rather than complementary, skills. In other words, instead of identifying gaps in expertise, they try to hire “less senior” versions of themselves.

The problem with this is two-fold. First, when you have a small team, it is crucial that you diversify skills to cover more ground—after all, that’s why you’re hiring, right? Second, you should use this hiring opportunity as a way to grow as a professional, by surrounding yourself with new perspectives and ideas.

So how do you avoid the trap of hiring “mini yous”? Try the following:

  • Write a list of all of the “soft skills” (e.g., writing abilities, collaborative approach, flexibility in the face of change, etc.) required for success in this job. These are the must-haves for any new hire and cannot be negotiable.  
  • Next, create a list of all of the “hard skills” (e.g., email marketing, graphic design, database management, etc.)
  • For each hard skill, give yourself a score from “1” (not proficient at all) to “10” (expert)
  • Once you’ve scored yourself in every skill, create 3 separate lists: one for everything that’s a 8 and above, another for 4-7 scores, and another for 1-3.

The skills in the highest-ranked bucket are your key skills—you can handle these areas on your own. However, as you start drafting job descriptions, interviewing and hiring, you should prioritize skills that you ranked 1-3, with a secondary emphasis on 4-7.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time managers (and some experienced ones, too) make is pulling resumes with redundant, rather than complementary, skills. 


While using the scoring system is important to ensure that you get maximum value from any new hires, it’s 100% not a replacement for holistic hiring. In other words, every candidate is a unique combination of skills, attributes, and experiences, and if you want to find great talent, you have to look at the whole person.

In fact, while not everyone has adopted this approach, a lot of progressive recruiters and HR departments emphasize the importance of looking “past the page.” {click to tweet} As anyone with an unconventional career path knows, it’s great for applicants to have an opportunity to explain what makes them unique—and not just be passed over because they don’t have all the right keywords on their resume.

The best way to hire in a holistic way? Develop your emotional intelligence, as that allows you to see people’s true potential.


While traditional interviews are a great first step to vetting potential new hires, it’s also a great idea to ask candidates to do a brief test. Depending on the position and industry, this could take the form of:

  • Marketing ideas for an actual (or made-up) client scenario
  • Completing a SWOT analysis for your company
  • Giving a brief presentation on a past project
  • A art/design portfolio review

This way, you don’t have to just rely on your new hire’s words or cover letter—you can also see how they perform when tasked with a specific assignment. 


When you are overloaded and overworked, it’s really easy to rush into a new hire. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 50% of employers blame bad hires on a rushed process.

The impact of moving too quickly? You miss the opportunity to do due diligence (including social media research) on potential candidates—and, in your haste, you might overlook flaws or problem areas.

Remember that a hiring misstep can be counterproductive. In fact, the administrative effort required to train, and eventually transition out, a less-than-qualified employee—or a bad cultural fit—can mean a lot more work for you in the long run. {click to tweet}


So, you’ve interviewed and hired some fantastic people who will be great additions to your team. Job well done! 

But don’t get too comfortable. Remember that your journey as a manager is just beginning, and in order for you to be truly successful, you also need to empower, encourage and support your team.

Not sure where to get started? Check out our awesome tips for first-time managers, and read about how to avoid becoming the micromanager you’ve struggled with in the past. 

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What are your experiences hiring for the first time? Do you have any tips for growing a kick-ass team?