NEW YORK - You've decided to hire your first employee. But where do you go to find the best candidate?
There are several traditional ways: posting the job online, or contacting an employment agency or school. All these methods have pros and cons.
You might find, though, the best way to find an employee is by asking around. Tell business associates, family and friends that you want to hire a staffer. Chances are, someone you talk to knows somebody who's looking for work.
ONLINE JOB SITES
If you're comfortable working online, you'll probably find it easy to post your job opening on local or nationwide sites. You'll need to create an account and pay a fee. Fees can differ dramatically from one site to another - for example, $25 to $100. How much you spend may depend on how many postings you have - the more openings you post, the less you pay for each.
The hard part, though, is going through potentially hundreds of resumes and trying to decide which candidates to pursue. This can be very time consuming, especially since some people apply for jobs they aren't suited for.
You'll also need to do some investigating when you start choosing candidates to interview and possibly hire. Depending on the nature of the position you may want to request background and credit checks in addition to talking to their references.
Using an employment agency can be expensive, sometimes thousands of dollars. But the services you get in return for that investment will save you a lot of time and effort.
An agency will interview candidates and then send you those who look like they might be a good fit. If necessary, the agency may handle background and credit checks and may also give a candidate tests to be sure they are computer literate or have other skills you need.
Using an agency can have another big plus: The agency may be willing to let you hire a temporary staffer, and then, if the staffer succeeds, allow you to make a permanent hire. You'll have to pay a fee to the agency on top of the worker's pay. But you won't have to pay benefits or employment taxes. And if a temp doesn't work out, letting him or her go will be less complicated than having to fire your own employee.
COLLEGES AND TRADE SCHOOLS
Placement offices at colleges and trade schools help current students and alumni find jobs. Whether you're looking for an assistant to do clerical work, or want someone with a particular skill, placement offices may be helpful. They may have screened students or alums to be sure they're connecting the right candidate with the right company. But they won't be in a position to handle the background and credit checks that an employment agency does.
Just as networking can help job seekers, it can help employers find staffers. Talking to people you know is one of the best ways to find out who's looking for a job. Your brother, friend or client may know someone third-hand who will be a great hire.
But be careful about hiring someone who's a close relative or friend of your networking partner. Hiring your business associate's son or your friend's sister, for example, could be a disaster. If it doesn't work out, you may lose an associate or a friend as well as a staffer. And maybe find yourself bad-mouthed in the process.
Also be sure that the person who gives you the recommendation is someone whose judgment you can trust. If you have a business associate who loves everyone and can't look at a possible candidate with a critical eye, maybe that recommendation is one you want to take a pass on.
Trade and professional organizations may keep lists of their members who are looking for work. The upside of this method is that you're looking at a candidate pool that is likely to be familiar with your kind of business. And it can be another form of networking - someone who won't work out for your company may know somebody else who will.