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A strategic and consistent onboarding process is key to helping new hires integrate into your business. Particularly in graduate recruitment, when candidates are likely to have limited experience in full-time employment, a clear onboarding plan is essential to help them settle in, integrate with your team, work effectively, and ultimately stay at your company.
But onboarding doesn’t just involve initial training and introductions – and it isn’t just something to tick off on a list of to-do’s. The onboarding process should begin when a candidate accepts their offer, and continue for at least their first year, helping to nurture and develop graduates to become engaged, motivated and productive employees.
Post-offer, send out offer letters, contracts and welcome packs. Keep your new hires in the loop about how often they can expect to hear from you in the time before they start, and include them in company-wide emails – a great way to make them feel involved before they’ve even started.
The day before they start, set up their email address and ensure that all technology is in good working order. Ensure their workplace is how you would want to find your own - clean and tidy, with business cards if they are going out to clients straight away, and maybe some company swag (stationery always goes down well!) Then, contact the candidate via phone or email, make sure they know what they need to bring (passport, bank details etc), and who to ask for on arrival. Especially with graduates who have little previous experience, their first day can be hugely daunting – so taking steps to ensure they feel comfortable and welcomed at your company is an important part of the process.
On their first day, introduce them to the team and take them on a tour of the office / building / surrounding area (showing them some of your favourite places!) Then, take 10-15 minutes to sit, have a tea or coffee, and explain what will be happening on their first day, and what they can expect from their first week. Throughout the day, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. Finally, we think it’s a nice touch to take them out for lunch or for a post-work drink - showing your graduate hires how much you value them from the start.
In their first week, create a clear and structured agenda for your new hire. If they are training, sitting in meetings, or working on projects, tell them when, where, and what they should bring to each one. Then, encourage them to sit down with their line manager or supervisor to discuss their goals, ambitions and where they see the role developing. Finally, why not kick-off their first week by getting them to work on a meaningful task with other team members? This will give them great insight into what the role is going to involve.
Their first month is integral to the success of your new hire – so initiatives like matching them up with a mentor to confide in can be hugely valuable. Then, at the end of the month, organise a check-in to ensure that they’re enjoying their new role. The check-in doesn’t need to be with an HR team – and can be conducted by a line manager, a team lead, or a mentor. Finally, ask them to evaluate their onboarding experience – what was useful, and what might need more clarification or attention. Their evaluation will help you improve your process for future hires.
The graduate recruitment process isn’t over once you’ve completed the initial onboarding program (up to their first month). Moving forward, you can retain your new hires by providing ongoing support, regular catch-ups, opportunities for growth and development, rewards and salary reviews, mentoring schemes and company-wide perks.
From the moment a candidate accepts their offer, to your new hire's first day, week, month and year, the onboarding process is a vital part of graduate recruitment - the key to ensuring that they integrate in to your business seamlessly and effectively.
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