New Hire Onboarding: Preparing for the First Day

Congratulations, you’ve made a hire! The uncertainty of the hiring process is over — you’ve closed the deal!

In an ideal world, your work would be finished and your new employee would go on to increase your team’s productivity and double your revenue without you lifting a finger.

The truth is that onboarding a new employee is just as important as making a hire. Having a successful onboarding program is key to retaining your employees for the long term.

Some employers don’t succeed: up to 28% of new employees quit within the first 90 days on the job. Some employees will even quit after the first day!

You can improve your retention rate by having a structured onboarding process, setting clear expectations and goals, and continuing training after initial onboarding.

This post will cover structured onboarding, which culminates on a new hire’s first day. Here’s how to create a compliant, smooth, and positive first-day experience.

Before the First Day 

Know the Legal Requirements 

Before anything else, make sure you understand new hire compliance. Here’s the paperwork you need to know about:

Form I-9: This federal form is required for all U.S. employers and is used to verify new hire work authorization. The Form I-9 needs to be filled out by the employee on day one. Part of the Form I-9 requires you as the employer to examine appropriate identification and complete an employer section no later than day three of employment. You can learn more about this important step at I-9 Central

Form W-4: This is another federal form that an employee completes to inform the employer of the correct federal income tax to withhold from an employee’s pay. This is best-taken care of on day one with a hard deadline to complete before the first payroll.

State-Specific Forms: Many states have their own withholding forms to record the amount of state income tax to withhold from an employee’s pay. Be sure to check your state requirements and prepare any necessary forms. 

New Hire Reporting: You’ll need to let your state government know that you’ve made a new hire to stay compliant with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). Where to send this info, the time frame, and any additional reporting requirements vary by state. Use this guide from the federal OCSE website. A Multistate Employer Registry is available, which allows an employer to report all of its new hires in any state where it has employees.

Create a Pre-First Day Checklist 

Besides knowing the legal requirements, there are a few other items you’ll want to be prepared for before your new hire starts.

This will vary by company and position, so take time to think about what a new hire will need on day one and beyond to be set up for success. Create a checklist that you can use for every new hire.

Your employee onboarding checklist may look something like this:

  • Generate internal logins: Create login credentials to programs or software so they are ready to go when needed.
  • Order and set up equipment: Prepare a computer, uniform, or other items ahead of time so you’re not scrambling once they’ve started work.
  • Create a first-day schedule: Plan what the new hire will be doing on the first day, from paperwork to lunch to a meet and greet with the team. You may want to create a detailed schedule for the entire first week or beyond.
  • Communicate with the new hire: Reach out to your new hire ahead of their first day to reiterate your welcome and let them know what to bring, what time to arrive, and any other logistical details (dress code, parking, whether they should bring lunch).
  • Communicate with your team: Make sure your current team knows who’s starting and when. Encourage employees to greet the new hire.

On the First Day

Create another onboarding checklist for you (as the employer) to complete during the first day. This is something that onboarding software, like CareerPlug, can help with or you can create your own. Here are a few things you may want to add:

  • Complete required paperwork
  • Set employee up in payroll
  • Share benefits information
  • Give an office/facility tour
  • Introduce to team
  • Review company mission, values, and goals 
  • Cover expectations and logistics
  • Review training plan

Provide your new hire with a schedule so they know what to expect for the day. This will vary wildly based on your business and the position, but here is an example that we use for our own onboarding at CareerPlug.

First Day Schedule

  • 10 a.m. – Welcome new hire + office tour
  • 10:15 a.m. – New hire paperwork
  • 11 a.m. – Meet with manager
    • Review job description
    • Review training plan
  • Noon – Team lunch
  • 1 p.m. – Orientation materials
    • Review company policies
    • Login to internal systems and complete tutorials
    • Meet with and shadow other team members
  • 5 p.m. – End of day

Remember New Hire Experience

All the work so far will not only keep you organized but will help create an early positive experience with your company. You want new employees to feel validated that they’ve made the right decision — accepting a job offer is a major life event for individuals and families. Don’t give them any reason to second-guess their choice.

Look for ways to go the extra mile with new hire onboarding that will impact your first impression. Have their desk set up for them ahead of time with a note of welcome from the team. Give them some company swag or a new hire welcome kit. Schedule a lunch with a tenured employee so they can learn about company history.

Beyond the obvious steps to ramp in their role, think about how you can introduce new employees to your company culture.

At CareerPlug, our new hires go to lunch with our founder within their first few weeks to learn about how CareerPlug got started. We also have them watch an employee-made video on the first day that acts out funny bits of company history (like when an employee had to go dumpster diving for our only office key). It’s quirky, but it helps orient new hires to our culture (and gives them an easy conversation topic to talk with the team!).

Here are some other ideas:

  • Send a welcome package to the employee’s home before their first day with swag, a first-day schedule, and other onboarding information
  • Have a company all-hands meeting to introduce the new hire and let them share a little bit about themselves on the first day (or do this via email)
  • Designate a “welcome buddy” other than their direct manager so they have another point of contact for questions and feedback

Put yourself in their shoes: Ask yourself what would make you feel welcome and what has made you feel welcome at past jobs.

After the First Day

Future posts will cover creating training plans and identifying ways to reduce employee turnover. In the meantime, check out one of our popular resources to get you started: 30-60-90 Day Checklist.

Take Action:

  • Make sure you’re complying with federal and state requirements
  • Create a pre-first day and first-day checklist for yourself and the new hire
  • Identify one thing you can start doing to improve a new hire’s experience on the first day

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Nicolle Gatlin

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Kacie Sommers

Creative Design Manager

Kacie was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology.

Kacie joined CareerPlug as an intern while still in college in 2012. Post-graduation, she joined the CareerPlug team full-time as a Talent Specialist on the Recruitment Services side of the business, eventually working her way up to be the Recruitment Services Manager. From there, she learned her passion for the internal processes of what makes the business tick and explored other roles at the company, including Internal Support, Implementation, and Quality Management, before eventually finding her home in Design. She is now building a Creative Design branch off of the Marketing team.

Outside of work, you can find Kacie walking her dogs Bixby & Bean along Buffalo Bayou, hanging out with friends (and their pets), and tending to her 40+ house plants.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Chris Igou

Vice President of Sales

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Brad Pilot

Director of Sales

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Canaan Davis

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Ashley Garia

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Desiree Echevarria

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Ashley Johnson

Implementation Manager

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Tulay Solak

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Aiden Kinney

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Zach Garcia

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Kirsten Penaloza

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Brandy Lee

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Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.