Acceptance is Not the End: 3 Keys to Successful New Hire Onboarding


Jennifer Kohl

Jennifer Kohl is a Division Director for the Southern California market of Parker + Lynch Legal. Jennifer works directly with prominent law firms and in-house legal teams to identify and place talented associates, counsel and partners in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

The interview process can be long. It sometimes has stops and starts or delays due to scheduling conflicts. For higher level positions such as lateral partners, there is executive board approval, partnership votes and more. After what can sometimes be a multi-month process, an offer has been accepted and a start date has been set- Celebration ensues! It feels like the hurdles have been passed, but is that really the end of the process?

The next phase is an important one not to overlook: the Onboarding process. Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. As recruiters, we’re often tasked with ensuring the candidate remains excited and engaged about an opportunity throughout the sometimes long and arduous interview process, professionally navigates the notice period and then remains happy with the decision they made as they begin their career with the new employer through the first year. This requires consistent communication throughout the process and we often find ourselves filling the gaps left by a busy employer who is tasked with multiple responsibilities. In my experience, the candidates who stay the longest and are the most satisfied had a positive early experience with the new position; and fortunately there are a few things employers can do to make sure this happens.

Successful onboarding of a new employee has three key phases:

PHASE 1: Preparing for the new hire

Phase one occurs from the time of acceptance until the candidate’s start date. During this time, you should designate at least 1-2 key members of the team to reach out to the candidate to see how their exit is going and reiterate the excitement around them joining the team. Consider inviting them out to lunch or to an office function like happy hours or team building events- the goal is to make it clear they’re already part of the team.

PHASE 2: Who, what, where and how

Phase two occurs within the first 2-3 weeks after the new employee joins the team and involves several people: an administrative role to welcome the new employee into the fold with office tours and access to company resources; an IT person tasked with ensuring technical integration via computer, phone and network set up; and a team member to go to for various questions on projects or clients. Most importantly, they should know:

  • WHO to ask for help if their equipment isn’t working properly, if they need supplies or have general questions about the office.
  • WHAT upcoming projects, meetings and events they’ll be expected to participate in.
  • WHERE the nearby lunch spots are, the best parking, meeting spaces, etc.
  • HOW to access building amenities, IT, any internal protocols that should be observed.

Before the end of the new employee’s first 30 days, sit down with them to find out if they’re comfortable in their knowledge of the Who, What, Where and How of your organization. If they aren’t, provide the information and make a note to fill in those gaps with your next new hire.

PHASE 3: Periodic check-ins

Phase three will continue for the next 12-24 months after the employee joins. Schedule in-person meetings at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months with the employee to see how their integration is going and review their goals, as well as provide any feedback on their performance (both positive and constructive). This is also a great time to evaluate your own onboarding process. A few questions to consider:

  • What were some of your professional goals upon entering this new role, and how have those progressed? 
  • Are you satisfied and challenged with the work they’re doing and the office environment?
  • Do you feel your onboarding training sufficiently prepared you for the position?
  • What improvements would make to our onboarding and integration process?

A successful onboarding makes all the difference

The key to any successful program is the willingness to assess, evaluate and adjust. Hiring and onboarding is not only a timely and expensive investment, but you’re building a team to be successful for months and years to come- a successful onboarding and integration experience can set that foundation. If you’d like to speak with one of our knowledgeable recruiters about your onboarding process, reach out today.

Jennifer Kohl is an Attorney Recruiter with Parker + Lynch Legal, a service offering of Special Counsel. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter or via email today

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