5 Ways to Make Onboarding of Recent Grads Comfortable and Seamless

September 4, 2014

Raise your hand if you never wanted to graduate from college.

Four months ago, the notion of leaving college (which I believed to be life’s peak) seemed terrifying. I, like so many other new college grads, was very anxious about joining the workforce at the bottom of the food chain. However, after my first week all these fears disappeared. My onboarding process as a new hire was so carefully sculpted by our talent acquisition and HR team that this huge life transition was pretty seamless and dare I say…fun.

Here are the 5 tactics the team here at LinkedIn used to onboard me. These tactics could be applied to any new hire onboarding program to ease transition anxiety and set up recent grads for a great start:

1. Allow them to do what they had been trained to do for the past 18 years 

In a perfect world, university students would emerge after graduation fully capable of doing any job their degree entitled them to do. In reality, the one thing that students truly know how to do (maybe better than anyone else in the workplace) is studying.

If your company invests in internal learning tools and training modules that can be self-conducted, the recent grad hire will be right at home in having to study the ins and outs of your business and how your team contributes to it.

2. Give them a “dumb question” outlet

One thing LinkedIn did for me when I first started was to set me up with both a manager and a mentor. These roles may seem similar, but there was one key difference. Every recent grad wants to impress their managers and seem like they are much more knowledgeable than they may actually be. My mentor was an outlet for me to get my “dumb questions” out of the way without having to approach my manager and damage my inflated collegiate pride.

3. Provide them with opportunities to be social 

If we are being completely honest, another thing that came with the degree was the ability and desire to be in social settings. Just recently I went to a mixing event with my team. At this event, we mingled with other teams within our organization to hear what they have been working on, but more importantly we were able to spend time with coworkers who we might not usually see.

What really set this event apart was the ambiance. There was music, food, beer & wine, swag, and a general vibe of friendliness. The recent grads and interns thrived in this setting and were much more inquisitive, responsive, and confident than they would have been on a scheduled lunch date to speak to a more veteran employee about what they do.

4. Give them time to listen, digest, respond, and repeat 

My first week of work was very information and training heavy. However, I had full autonomy over how quickly I paced my learning and how much time I spent buckling down in front of an online module or asking my coworkers questions and getting settled in on the team.

Having this control of my schedule allowed me to understand how much time I needed to digest the information I was listening to, and which methods were best for me to be able to fully understand and respond to what I was learning. I was able to fully develop the skills I needed to best approach my projects in the first week as opposed to trying to cram the training and dive into my tasks simultaneously.


5. Start them off with a very warm welcome

If you think that a recent grad will ever turn down free swag, free food, and loads of praises and welcomes, you’re wrong. Introducing the newest member of your team and being able to describe something about them other than the project they will be working on, not only makes them feel appreciated, but also begins the development of a trust relationship. Appreciation leads to confidence and confidence is the best motivation to becoming a productive and successful contributor.

While a lot of this advice stems from my personal experience, I have heard countless stories to support my claims. I regret having to say that some of my friends fell into the abyss of the real world that comes with a rough post-grad transition. Typically, these friends experienced none of my 5 points in their first few months on the job.

I also have friends who have become absolute evangelists for their employer. These friends are usually quick to mention the relationships they have formed with their coworkers, the appreciation they feel on the job, and that they were fully welcomed into their new communities when they first started.

The recent college grads may be a separate breed of worker, but our needs are very basic. Meet these needs and you will be guaranteed to have helped start the promising career of a valuable employee.

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