What To Know When Hiring A Person For Their First Job

Written by: Steve Dusek

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

By Steve Dusek

You’ve been searching for a while, but just haven’t found the right person to fill that role. Until now. However, you are stressing – big time – because they have no work experience. At all! You think he will be able to do the job, but there’s no work history to give you the “normal” comfort level of a new employee. Go easy on yourself here. I promise you, the new employee is just as nervous as you and probably even more so.

Clearly, there was something about the individual that gave you the confidence to offer the job. Maybe it was a solid educational background or an interest in what they will be doing as a hobby or a club involvement. Perhaps she has proven “get it done” abilities through sports or arts or they may even be someone you have known their whole life. Now it is time to get him/her off on the right foot.

This first job and your guidance as the newbie’s first leader will set the foundation for all their jobs going forward. Have you ever thought about that? How you set him up by setting expectations, creating professional rapport, encouraging critical thinking and establishing work habits will be the basis for how they perform at all future jobs.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the pressure is more on you than the new employee – yikes! At a time when our state needs thousands of more solid employees, setting newbies up for success now and in the future is critical. Most likely, the new employee is willing and anxious to do well. Take advantage of that – in the best of ways.

Now the other cool possibility is that when you have done everything right, the employee will be a rock star, one that you want to keep and will provide significant value to your organization. Hopefully, you can keep them for a long time and recoup the investment of time you made in them as an employee, professional and person.

If you have done it right, the day that they step into your office to tell you they have accepted another job will be a hard and sad day. If it is, you will know that you had a hand in making them a valuable employee. Take pride in knowing you had a major hand and influence to make that happen. Fly little birdie, fly!

A few thoughts on getting that newbie off on the right foot

On day one, talk about your company – the history, the mission/vision/values, the plan and objectives for the current year and how what they do ties in to where you are going. 

Introduce them to the team and let them know who can help when they have questions. Encourage her to ask questions. If this is her first job, she will have many of them.

Establish a training plan for the first week, month, etc. and assign a person responsible for that training. Be sure the mentor has the ability to establish the good work habits and responsibility.

Review job responsibilities – let them know what is expected so there are no surprises.

Set expectations – what does it mean to be on time, what are the expectations of communication, what is the dress code, when can/can’t cell phones be used, the list goes on and on. If you don’t tell them, who will? 

Set aside half an hour per week for the first month or two and ask how things are going. Get specific to make sure there is understanding so you can guide or correct if needed. This also gives you a chance to see how you have done with your plans for the new employee.

Be sure to give opportunities for growth and learning – if the newbie is doing well, give them additional assignments. Don’t be afraid to challenge them and see what they can do. Often times, you will be surprised, if not blown away, by the creativity and speed as to which a new person, who doesn’t have old, bad habits, can get things done!

On the flip side, if things are not going well – be honest and provide direction to get them on track. Give them the opportunity to correct themselves by providing the necessary communication and tools to help get them to the right place. And if, after multiple attempts, it isn’t working, that’s ok too. You may have to let him go to find work at another business. If you have done all the above, you will know in your heart and mind that you have done everything you can to get them off on the right foot, and for whatever reason, this job just wasn’t the right fit.


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Steve Dusek is the president and CEO of Dakota Business Lending. He has over twenty-eight years of experience in managing and delivering non-traditional lending solutions for small business in rural America and in maintaining successful business cultures.