Onboarding new recruiters is a balancing act. You want to onboard them as quickly as possible to get them working with full autonomy, but you still want to provide ample time for them to acclimate to a new work environment. Rushing the process creates an underdeveloped employee, but taking too much time delays your ROI on that new recruiter. You need to find a balance between training, experience, time, and pressure. Take it slow, be patient, set expectations, monitor progress, and you have the perfect formula for onboarding new recruiters.

The Foundations of Onboarding

The Four C’s of onboarding were developed by Tanya N. Bauer, an expert on team management and onboarding. She believes that there are four aspects to onboarding: compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Some companies only focus on two or three of these foundations, but expert onboarders are sure to cover all four, leading to a happier new hire and higher employee retention.

Compliance refers to general legal documents and paperwork that needs to be done before your new employee can start their work. This can mean setting up direct deposit, getting them started on a company computer, or introducing them to different healthcare options.

Clarification refers to your efforts to make clear what your new employee’s job entails. What are their responsibilities and what are your expectations?

Culture refers to the rules by which an office functions, both written and unwritten. They are necessary for a new employee to feel comfortable in their new environment.

Connection refers to your new hire forging relationships with both clients and candidates and becoming a fully autonomous and capable employee.

Formal vs. Informal Onboarding

One of the big decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want to engage in formal or informal onboarding. The advantage to formal onboarding is the structure it provides. There is no question what needs to be learned and what needs to be done during the onboarding process. Informal onboarding takes a more relaxed approach, and generally relies on the “sink or swim” mentality. The new hire will be left to figure out the job on their own. It should come as no surprise that formal onboarding dramatically improves employee retention rates due to less confusion and more comfortable employees. With informal onboarding, you never really know what you’re going to get.

Tips for Formal Onboarding


New employee orientation should tackle compliance while also introducing them to company culture. Process any necessary paperwork and introduce them to your common business tools. Getting this out of the way frees you up to focus on introducing them to the office culture. Start with their new coworkers. Point out small office idiosyncrasies they should know about. Where do people eat lunch? Where do they go for happy hour? It may seem inconsequential, but taking the effort to introduce them to the little things can make your new recruiters feel like a part of the team.

You should also take the time to provide them with industry insights. Offer supplementary reading or viewing that can give them a better understanding of the specific work you do. Use books, articles, videos, or any kind of content to educate them. You can even put together a packet of these materials to provide them with some structure.


For a new employee, structure acts as a roadmap for whenever they feel lost. Developing a schedule for learning targets can help facilitate their progress. It doesn’t have to be incredibly rigid, but it should guide them to learn the right things in the right order, all in an acceptable amount of time.

It’s standard to develop a 90-day schedule. The first 30 days should focus on getting them up to speed. Lay a foundation and let them figure out the basics. By day 60, your new hire should have more responsibility and be showing signs of independence. By day 90 they should be a fully integrated employee without any need for supervision. This timeline gives them enough time to settle in, but also provides a path for where they need to be.

Setting Expectations

Setting expectations provides a way for you and your new hire to measure their progress. Expectations should be both achievable and challenging. At first, you should keep the pressure off by having them focus on smaller tasks rather than big ordeals like making placements and closing deals. Have them focus on building relationships with select, important candidates and clients. You can also set them to work on small chunks of a larger process and then have them build up from there. Keep the tasks specific and measurable and see how they do, then move on to more advanced tasks.

Meeting Regularly

Check-in meetings are a way for you to discuss how your new recruiter is coming along, and will give them the opportunity to them voice any questions or clarifications they require. You should choose how often these meetings are based on your company size and the new hire’s position, and you want to be sure to leave enough time between meetings so they have the opportunity to demonstrate growth and progress. Keep the meetings low-pressure but professional, so they’ll feel comfortable but also understand how important early metrics are. Feel free to meet with multiple people as well — managers or team leads should be allowed to sit on your meeting, since they have the best insight into how your new hire has been doing.

Accompanied Networking

New hires want to prove themselves, so give them that opportunity. Accompany them to networking and community events in the area. Introduce them to the important candidates and clients that they should know. Give them the opportunity to shine as a new employee. Take note about how they interact at networking events, too, and give pointers when applicable.

Individual Mentoring

Consider having another employee mentor your new hire — preferably someone who performs or has performed the same function. A mentor’s job entails watching over the new employee and offering advice when warranted. Mentorships are great because they give the new employee someone to consult when confronted with obstacles. A mentor should always respond first with leading questions, helping the mentee to find the answer themselves.

A good mentor should avoid micromanaging. You want your new hire to develop their own identity and workflow. You want to give room to grow; plant the seed, don’t bury it. New hires have enough pressure without having to deal with an overbearing superior.


Obviously, you want your new hire to be as productive as possible as quickly as possible, but rushed onboarding leads to sloppy work and an unhappy employee. Retention is the overall goal of your onboarding process, and an employee’s happiness directly correlates to employee retention. In fact, an employee is twice as likely to leave a job in the near future if they have a poor onboarding experience. Start their tenure with you off right with a formal onboarding process — one that is patient, scheduled, monitored, and inspiring.