Episode 11:

How to Hire Your First Employee

In Conversation With Morgan's HR Advisor Jackie Ross

Hiring is hard. And it’s something most entrepreneurs put off and put off and put off. Because as entrepreneurs, we’re used to juggling 10 hats and being everything for everyone all at once. But hiring is the only way you’ll ever grow your business to the venture you’ve always dreamed of. And while the idea of handing over control is difficult, knowing how to hire can feel just as overwhelming. 


So where do I start? How do I know what roles to hire for? At what point do I hire a recruiter? On today’s episode of WorkSmart, Morgan chats with her OG recruiter Jackie Ross about all things hiring, including where to start, what to look for, and how to get past the do-it-yourself mindset. 

Jackie’s Journey

Rarely do people fantasize about one day becoming a recruiter. But a lover of talking and understanding what makes people tick, Jackie felt like recruiters had the best gig. Jackie helped Morgan make her first hires in the early days of Blavity and today she runs her very own consulting firm helping everyone hire smarter. 

Making That First Hire

The hardest step. Knowing when to hire and how to hire can feel tricky so it’s important to bring in outside pros for advice and insight. Start by asking yourself, who do I need to bring in the door in the next 30, 60, or 90 days so I can be successful? Have a crystal clear vision of who and what you need. And start by hiring people who excel at the things you’re not great at. Fill in your weaknesses with superstars.

Early Mistakes

Early entrepreneurs make a few common hiring missteps. For example, because we’re entrepreneurs, we expect others to have the same do everything mindset. Oftentimes our job description for one key role is the job description for three separate roles.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone is the right fit for an early startup. Poaching professionals from huge companies sounds like a no-brainer until you realize those VPs who worked at Facebook or Nike or Fab Fit Fun were there because they thrive in a larger entity. Instead, hire for ambiguity. Look for people you can throw anything at and they’ll respond. Because that’s the reality of working for a smaller company still launching off the ground.

Morgan’s Early MVPs

Back in Blavity’s early days, Morgan wasn’t confident that the white investors of Silicon Valley would understand her mission. So she focused on revenue and hired salespeople early. Now Blavity is financially free and Morgan can make decisions because she wants to, not because she’s forced to.

Tools & Logistics

So you’re ready to invest in people and you’ve got job descriptions hot off the press. Now what? Jackie says, figure out where your audience is. Are they on LinkedIn? Instagram? Slack? Meet potential hires where they are and share job opps with the professional communities you belong to. And if you’re hiring for multiple positions, consider an applicant tracking system (ATS). Also create a career section on your website so you know people that find you are interested in you. 

Resume Reminders

A few basic things to consider when reviewing a resume: Check for spelling and grammar, check for longevity in a role (are they job hoppers versus lifers?), do they have more than a few years of experience, and can you actually afford to hire them? 


When To Recruit A Recruiter

So how do you know when it’s time? Call a recruiter when you’re hiring for multiple roles or high-level executive positions. Sometimes it’s best to let recruiters take the lead for the same reason you’re hiring more people – so you can continue to do what you do best. Just remember that hiring outside recruiters is pricey and many ultimately choose to bring recruiters in-house.


Homework Time

Think about the company you’ve always dreamt of. Think about the culture, the mission, the passion, and of course, the revenue. Now think about the people who can help you build that dream environment and get you to that next level of growth. Hiring is the only way you’ll ever achieve what’s now just a fantasy, party of one.


Remember: work smarter, not harder.

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[00:25] Morgan’s introduction to this episode

[02:04] Jackie’s journey

[04:02] Mistakes early entrepreneurs make

[06:42] How to prioritize your first hires

[10:37] Taking the first few steps

[17:31] Morgan’s earliest essentials

[20:28] Tools to help you hire

[24:53] How to review resumes

[26:57] When to hire a recruiter

[31:44] Q+A with WorkSmart CEOs

[32:07] What’s the best way to find talent?

[36:50] How do I split up the work between different hires? And what’s ongoing work versus temporary?

[44:22] Jackie’s closing thoughts

Resources From This Episode


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