Best First Day

Former recruiters love to tell Hiring Horror stories. We all have ’em. One of my candidates showed up to her in-person interview on time, dressed for success, well-vetted and highly-prepped by yours truly… with a fake baby. In a full-on baby stroller, guys.

I sent another clinical case manager to her first day on the job with a contingency clause on her offer of employment because we were missing a portion of her required criminal background check. The hiring manager was desperate to get her started, and she knew exactly what portion of the background check we were missing. She knew. She signed the contingency clause so she would be allowed to report to work. Was she hoping the records had been lost in a hurricane? When the full records came back, we discovered this nurse was a felon with outstanding warrants for her arrest. Warrants, plural. AS SHE ALREADY KNEW. Security escorted her off the corporate campus.

I don’t offer up these stories flippantly…they make me sound like a terrible recruiter! Nope; I was a great recruiter. Obsessed with connecting amazing talent to incredible opportunity. I’ve hired hundreds of people in my day; thousands if you count the recruitment teams I ran. All at a professional, experienced career level. You just never know. That’s why we put controls in place, and even then people come through our doors and either make it or don’t for all kinds of reasons.

Guess what? Job seekers have way more horror stories. TRUST ME. From terrible candidate experiences in your application and interview process to a complete bait & switch when it comes to the job description versus job. And WORST FIRST DAYs?: a category unto itself. We’ve all had them:

  • This is not what I signed up for.
  • I didn’t know where to report for work.
  • I accepted the offer and then….crickets. I had to call them to make sure I was still starting. How embarrassing.
  • They didn’t have a desk/laptop/uniform/you name it ready for me. It’s like they weren’t prepared for me to be there.
  • They put me in a conference room with a training manual and a bunch of HR policies to read because everyone was too busy to meet with me.
  • My hiring manager wasn’t even there on my first day.
  • I didn’t know anyone.
  • I spent most of the first week “shadowing”. No real schedule.
  • No one showed me around.
  • The culture wasn’t what I expected.
  • I spent the entire first day filling out paperwork.
  • I want to start contributing, but I don’t have what I need.
  • I’ve been here for 3 weeks and I still can’t access all of the systems/tools/resources I need to be successful.

Here’s what I saw as a new hire drinking our own onboarding champagne:

  • An invitation to my personalized, digital, self-guided My Onboarding experience
  • My digital offer letter
  • E-signature set-up for signing my offer letter AND new hire paperwork BEFORE my first day
  • Welcome to the team, Jess: A letter from Click Boarding
  • Welcome video & facility tour (office, cafeteria, fitness center) from my new team
  • New Hire forms to complete before my first day.
  • My business card order form
  • A few policies to preview: PTO, benefits, corporate data access, etc.
  • I set up direct deposit
  • Electronic authorization for pre-hire screening
  • Everything was cascaded to me domino-style, one task seamlessly and easily

Here’s what my first day looked like:

  • At the front door and plastered conspicuously, somewhat embarrassingly everywhere: “Welcome Jess Von Bank” signs
  • I walked in to bagels & coffee on a linen tablecloth and half the company waiting to introduce themselves and welcome me to the team
  • My first meeting: a sprint review with the Development team. I was off and running by 9AM, already seeing the features we had just rolled out in our product.
  • My desk was entirely set up: my laptop had every piece of software I would need already installed, my desk was fully stocked, my desk phone showed my name on its screen, my business cards were on order, and I had a scheduled lunch date with my manager and the CEO
  • I was able to immediately start booking meetings with my Go To Meeting access, Hubspot integration with Outlook, and email signature (means I had an email and phone number assigned)
  • My team members asked me about my girls and love of racing because they’d been given my family picture and bio before I started.
  • A tour of the training library in Confluence, where I already had access.
  • In-person facility tour (I’d already had the video preview…faces looked familiar, and so did the premises)
  • My manager texted me that night: You made me proud today. You made a great impression.*
  • I also got a Slack message from my peer that night: Let me know what you’re missing. I’m here to help you be successful.

How my first day made me feel:

  • Welcomed
  • ….nay, highly anticipated!
  • Productive. I was in the mix immediately.
  • Like I was here to make a difference. Period.
  • Appreciated
  • Excited….giddy, actually
  • Familiar
  • Like I made a great first impression.*

I got a text from a friend around 3PM on my first day: “Well…??? Did you make the right decision?”

Think about your LAST NEW HIRE on HER FIRST DAY. How would she answer?

I’m discussing why this answer matters so very much in my next article. Keeping your employer brand promise up to and through your new hire’s first day of work, creating the right impression during moments that matter, speeding their time to productivity, and protecting and nurturing the experience you would expect your talent to have matter – materially – to your company’s bottom line.

Follow me to hear how easy it is to give every new hire their best first day ever!

P.S. I’m done editing and literally ready to hit publish, so my narrow field of attention broadens and I let the outside world and noise back in. And suddenly can’t help but overhear a women across the empty, mid-day cafeteria where I came to write. She’s hiding in a corner on a discreet phone interview. “I probably wasn’t onboarded properly and should have spoken up sooner, but it’s just not the right fit here. No one did anything wrong, exactly, it’s just not the culture and fit I was expecting.” I’m telling you….this stuff matters.