How to hire first rockstar employee

14 June 2022 ยท Updated 07 July 2022

I started my company as a side job last year with the ultimate goal of quitting my job and getting on the same level of 100k $ per year. After some months, I landed a huge client, which helped me leave my full time job, even though not with the salary I expected. And I hired my first full time employee a few weeks ago.

He was a guy I know from friends, recently graduated, hard worker, bright kid. The job I gave him is simple but he doesn't seem to be motived to do it, im paying him more than he got at his nursing job, but he's still not hustling like I do.

The industry is transportation and the company made just under $8k in Jan, just over $13k in Feb, $18k in March, $20k in April & $23k in May - there's a limit on how much I can earn with only myself. I realized not long ago that the business is blocked by me, as i'm the only person running it. It can scale with more people.

How do I find that first hire? Do I just post on indeed? Other platforms? Reach out to former colleagues/friends and look for a word of mouth referral?


You want someone who can hit the ground running, who’s passionate about your mission, and who can survive being locked in with you for 12 hours per day in the same room. That’s a tough challenge.

There are two things wrong with this question:

  1. Never use guru, ninja, or rockstar in your job description. It just turns people away from your company.
  2. If you expect your first employee to be equal to you in terms of output and responsibilities โ€” then you’re looking for a co-founder or at least on that level. So equity will come into play.

You start your search by describing what you’re looking for. Do you need someone with specific skills or experience that fits into a certain niche? What does their daily routine look like and how can they help grow your business? Write these things down, and reiterate on the description so you get the best possible copy.

If you’re looking to hire a technical co-founder, I have a separate guide for this case, as it’s a bit different.

Next, consider what kind of culture do you have at your startupโ€”is it relaxed or fast-paced? Can you provide a level of stability or are we going to work from a garage at your parents? What are the companyโ€™s goals for growth and expansion over time (if applicable)?

Next thing, consider how can you convince candidates why joining a young startup could improve their career in ways they never imagined before. The first impression is the most important one, so you should make sure that your company looks top-notch with a professional website or profile on Linkedin.

When a person is considering joining a startup, they usually have fears. They come from the place of stability and you’re showing them a rocket that has the possibility of blowing up during launch. Here are a few question that you should be prepared to answer when hiring your first employee.

  • What does your runway look like? Do you have enough money?
  • What is our company’s story?
  • What does your target market look like? What size it is?
  • How many competitors do you have?

It’s important to paint a full picture of your business, showcasing your financials, company vision, infrastructure, and more.

Hiring the first employee is the same as hiring the one after that โ€” with time you have more credibility and it gets easier to convince people to join you.

๐Ÿ“š More Q&A here

More questions from users:

Hot! The last couple of years I've been writing about CTO / Tech lead job. I've compiled all my knowledge into a printable PDF. I called it "256 Pages of No Bullshit Guide for CTOs". So if you're interested, take a look.

New! If you're a software engineer looking for a job, I started a Roast my Resume service, where I record a personalized video of me "roasting" your CV, which basically means taking a hard look at your resume as a CTO and commenting on all the good and the bad parts.

  • Ivy

    I’ve been through the hiring process at a startup before, and it can be quite challenging. It’s important to be transparent about your company’s financial situation and future growth plans. Candidates will appreciate honesty and a clear picture of what they’re getting into. Remember to focus on highlighting the benefits of joining your team and how it can positively impact their career. It’s all about setting the right expectations from the start and building a strong foundation for a successful partnership.