How to hire your first (or next) employee

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Do you need a contractor to outsource blog writing services or a full time assistant to take over the front office? Maybe both? When I decided to hire my first administrative assistant, I was afraid I wouldn’t even have enough money to pay her the meager salary I was offering. Pay her $ 15 an hour for five hours a week (in Austin, Texas), I was afraid I would have to let her go and start over if I didn’t have another client. Fortunately, this never happened as hiring my first assistant allowed me to free up time for minor tasks in order to generate more income to improve my customer experience, optimize my systems and processes. and increase my business income. I will never go back to doing it all myself!

(For a reminder on how to delegate tasks, complete the task dump and sort activity. No, seriously, I’ll wait.)

Now that you have an idea of ​​how much time you’re wasting continuing to create Instagram posts and answer crunchy lead calls, you need to delegate. Yes, that means hire! Hiring outside help can be overwhelming as it takes more time (initially) and will require a needs assessment of your business. This investment is well worth it.

A lawyer recently told me that she hired her diligent cousin, an organized and finicky planner, to help with endless administrative tasks. Spoiler alert: Cousin Mia was not a good person. Another colleague hires virtual assistants from foreign countries because of the low cost. She keeps a revolving door of assistants because, in her experience, they are unreliable.

Hiring low-cost family and foreign (or domestic) workers might not be the best solution (damn it, even with high-cost workers, hiring can be a roll of the dice). Due to the potential damage to relationships and potentially abusive labor practices, consider hiring with more structure. How? ‘Or’ What? I’m so glad you asked. I’ll tell you how I hire (as a non-HR pro), but it may involve some homework for you:

Be clear about your company’s values

If you haven’t yet defined your company’s philosophy and values, start here. Hiring values-aligned employees brings clarity when presented with someone who has the right skills, but would be a bad fit. One of my values ​​is daring, and we daringly (go figure) advocate for social justice initiatives. We also say that fanatics and racists can find the door; if a potential candidate reads this and recoils from our bold stance, we are not the cabinet for them.

Write a creative job posting

Put on your creative writing hat. When was the last time you saw a law firm post a smart, entertaining or, dare I say it, funny job posting? Never? Yeah, me too – until I wrote one. Your job should express your company values ​​and list professional qualifications, salary and level of experience. However, nothing prevents you from stepping aside from the cookie-cutter job offers you find on the Internet. An employee once told me that my job posting was the first time she had felt excited and compelled to apply for a legal position in over a year. This is substantial praise. (Write me if you want a copy of my magic article.)

Prepare for the interview

Be intentional and ask questions during the interview that are relevant to the job. If you are hiring a partner lawyer, ask questions about work style, communication, organization, conflict resolution, error handling, etc. Suppose I don’t prepare a list of questions in advance. In this case, I’m likely to be talking about my favorite documentaries on Netflix (“High on the porkIs a revelation) and hire based on new friendships rather than the needs of the job and the company.

Make an offer that she (hopefully) can’t refuse

Yeah, the fun part! You have finally selected your first choice, but you are not in the clear. Applicants can counter-offer outside of your price range and decline. Feeling disappointed when you can’t hire your best employee is a normal part of business. At the end of 2020, I wanted to hire a business owner, but I couldn’t match what another company was offering her as a salary. Sadly I parted ways, but I know I will soon be able to hire him or someone of his caliber. Growth is part of this employer journey.

Onboard your brilliant new employee

Don’t stop when you hire the right person. The hardest part of hiring someone is investing the time to train them to understand your business. I have a 30-60-90 day onboarding process in which the new hire and I (or an appropriate staff member) meet weekly. We keep track of tasks and assignments; the new employee can ask questions and monitor progress. I schedule time on my calendar to make myself available. You can fire the new employee during this trial period if you realize that she is not right for you and that you are not breaking any laws! Hire slowly, but fire quickly.

If all else fails, outsource!

Many lawyers resort to doing everything they can because they feel defeated by repeated failed hires. Maybe it’s the caliber of your employees, or maybe it’s you. Most lawyers are not HR professionals, which is why it is beneficial for us to consider outsourcing the hiring to a fractional HR / operations consultant. This is how I chose to hire.

I would love to hear your constructive comments or questions at [email protected] I’m always looking for topic suggestions! Did I mention that I signed up with a literary agent for my next estate planning book? You can read all about it here.


Iffy Ibekwe is the lead lawyer and founder of Ibekwe Law, SARL. She is an evangelical lawyer in estate planning for intergenerational wealth transfer with effective wills and trusts. Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2022 (prayers!). She graduated from the University of Texas Law School and has practiced law for over 14 years. Iffy can be contacted by email at [email protected], at his website, and on Instagram @thejustincaselawyer.



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