How to Onboard a New Hire

You have made your decision, you extended the offer, and the candidate has accepted.  Now you are faced with the onboarding process. While you obviously must follow state and federal guidelines when it comes to processing the paperwork, onboarding is so much more than just regulations and paperwork.  Onboarding is an ongoing part of your business. It’s up to you how long the process lasts, 30-60-90 days? One year? You also have to have the right people on your team to stick to the onboarding process and give it the attention it deserves.

First thing’s first

The onboarding process should begin when you post the position itself. This is when you start thinking of your process, who will oversee it, and what it looks like. Will you have employee orientation? Will the person in charge of the onboarding and training process be available to give it their full attention? What tools will the new employee need to do their job efficiently and correctly? Address these questions early and have everything ready for your new hire upon their arrival.

Use the buddy system

Be sure that there is one specific point person for the new hire to connect with. When this happens, there will be fewer direct questions for the manager which will allow him or her to focus on their own work. This also helps the new employee feel immediately accepted and at ease in a new office.

Small Businesses

If you happen to be a small business, don’t overthink your onboarding process. You will be able to identify flaws and issues with a new hire far more quickly than a large business would. Adopting the onboarding processes of much larger companies would be cumbersome. Keep it simple.

Ask how you are doing

Ask your new employees what they like and don’t like about your process and take it to heart. See what can be changed, what issues there are, and address what you can. Ask them what they would like to see changed, what they think should be added to your process, and ask what you can do to improve. There is no one-size-fits-all process when it comes to this and you may need to adjust your plan over time to find what works.

All in all, keep evolving, keep up with the times and changes within your industry and your business. There is no right or wrong way here as long as you are willing to solicit feedback and understand the need for adjustments to the process.

 

References 101 | Part 2

Nowadays, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most people ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time-consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Check References

Ask for feedback

Touch base with everyone who has spoken to the candidate. Ask them what they think, what their concerns are, and what they would like you to follow up on. The goal here is to then mold your questions around what you are hearing and get as much out of the third-party reference than you could from the candidate.

Make sure you are clear with the candidate on what types of people you want to hear from. If you want to know more about their leadership skills, make sure to ask them to provide you with a supervisor or manager to better answer the questions you have involving that skillset.

Be prepared

Assume the call will take an hour. It won’t, but if you are better prepared to take that amount of time you won’t feel rushed and neither will the reference. The goal here is to take your time, dig in deep with their references, and ask any and all questions you have. It’s ok to stray from your pre-written questions and ask other follow-ups as the call goes on.

Describe the job

Describe to the reference what you are looking for and ask if the candidate was under the same circumstances when they worked together. Example: “We are seriously considering Ellen for our Regional Sales Manager opportunity. In this role, she will have to travel often and meet a goal of $3 million in sales. Is this similar to what she was doing when she worked with you? How did she handle it? Did she overcome obstacles? Did she hit her goal?

Open-ended questions ONLY

Ask very specific open-ended questions; instead of “Did (the candidate) do a good job when working with you?” ask something more along the lines of “I understand that your company is goal-oriented and competitive can you tell me how (the candidate) handled that environment on a daily basis?” Another way to ask is “I understand (the candidate) helped implement a new training process. Can you tell me what (his/her) role specifically was in that project?”

These questions leave it open for the reference to formulate a deep and detailed answer about what specifically the candidate did, what their skills and abilities are, and how he or she could be an asset to your company. This also opens it up for them to give any negative feedback they may have.

Soft skills

After you have the facts on the skills, abilities, and contributions of the employee, be sure to ask about their soft skills. Soft skills cover the candidate’s personality, how they handle day-to-day stress, how they speak to vendors, clients, and customers, as well as how easy they are to get along with within the office. These traits are just as important as other skills and abilities more closely related to getting the job done correctly.

References are an essential and vital part of hiring the best employees for your business. They should be one of several pillars that construct your decision to move forward or not with the candidate. Make sure you are taking your time with them and get all the information you can.

For information on how to ask someone to be a reference for you read this blog post.

 

References 101 | Part 1

Nowadays, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most of us ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time-consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Ask Someone to be Your Reference

Choose wisely 

Choose people who will give you an exceptional reference, people you had positive experiences with. This does not mean they have to be former employers. It could be a client or vendor, a co-worker, or a professor. If you have limited business contacts, use a personal reference, someone who can speak strongly to your character, demeanor, and abilities.

Be careful how you ask

Don’t just ask “Will you be a reference for me?” Instead, ask something along the lines of “Do you feel comfortable providing me with a reference?” This gives the person the opportunity to decline if they feel they would not be able to give you an outstanding reference.

Give them all pertinent information

Make sure they know what kind of jobs you are applying for and what companies could be calling them. This gives them the opportunity to prepare their thoughts and speak to what the company will be most interested in.

Put your request in writing

Be sure to send an email with all of the information in it when you ask for them to be your reference. This gives them something in black and white to reference and allows them to answer truthfully. Be sure to include your name in the subject line so that the email gets opened and read.

Be Professional

When sending your email to ask for the request, be sure to sound professional.  Check the email for spelling and grammatical errors, and if need be ask someone to edit for you. Remember you are asking for a professional reference, you need to be professional in the request.

Say Thank You

Be sure you say thank you in your email as well. You are asking them to take time out of their busy schedule to do you a favor and help you get a job. Be sure to thank them for everything!

EXAMPLE:

Dear Steve,

I hope everything is well on your end and that you’re enjoying a busy 3rd quarter.  I wanted to touch base with you to ask for help in my job search. I am in the process of looking for a new position as my current position is being eliminated.

I would like to ask your permission to use you as a reference who can speak to my skills, qualifications, and abilities. I would always advise you when your name and contact information is given out this way you know who to expect a phone call from. I would also share what type of position it is, and what they are looking for.

I really appreciate your time and efforts in this and look forward to hearing from you soon.  Also, if you know of any openings that I may be qualified for I would appreciate the help.

Thank you,

(signature)

For information on how to check references read this blog post.

 

Top 10 Career-Limiting Moves

#1 – Coming in late

Getting caught in traffic and making it into the office a few minutes late won’t doom your career. However, falling into the habit of showing up late will get noticed. This especially applies for meetings. Be on time and be prepared or you will stand out in a negative way.

#2 – Constant complaining

Life is all about overcoming challenges. You’re not the only person facing obstacles. Do you work to the best of your ability and keep any negativity out of the office.

#3 – Too many drinks at office social functions

This one seems obvious but is often overlooked. Whether it’s a company picnic or informal happy hour keep your behavior in check. Realize that you’re surrounded by co-workers and need to project professionalism.

#4 – Taking vacation to avoid work

Vacation days or PTO are part of your compensation and you’re entitled to them. You should use them as you see fit. All of that being said, taking your days or weeks off during the busy season is going to get you some negative attention. Be aware of the ebbs and flows going on in your office. Don’t take your vacation when things are hectic and leave your co-workers having to cover for you.

#5 – Never volunteering for extra work

Teamwork is the name of the game in most offices. Oftentimes co-workers will need a hand or your team has a deadline to meet. These instances often require an extra investment of time and effort. Do you pitch in when your team needs you?

#6 – Ink

This one is likely to be controversial as tattoos are very popular with younger age groups. If you like tattoos feel free to get as many as you like. Just realize that your manager may not like them as much as you do.

#7 – Dressing like a slob

This one is common sense and quite easy to avoid. Follow the simple rule of dressing for the job you want, not the one you have. This extends into grooming habits as well. Keep your appearance sharp and neat and you’ll have no problems.

#8 – All talk, no results

Offices run on teamwork, accountability, and performance. There are few things more annoying than a co-worker who talks a big game but can’t deliver. Focus on your performance and stay humble.

#9 – Interoffice romance

Office romances can be risky. When they work it’s great. However, they often don’t work out and can create significant office drama. Proceed with extreme caution.

#10 – Bad mouthing others

Businesses run most efficiently when workplaces are places of harmony. Gossip, trash talk, and cliques can destroy workplaces. Keep your opinions about others to a minimum and be friendly to everyone.

What career-limiting moves have you witnessed?