Tomorrow is Margot’s first day at a new job! They are super excited about the opportunity but would usually be super anxious about The First Day At The New Job. Margot does a quick mental check and finds that they are not as anxious as expected.

Margot hasn’t even officially started yet and they have already received a welcome package full of swag from the new employer, a cool welcome video about the company, an email from their new supervisor, and an itinerary for the first day.

Margot is joining the company as a hybrid employee: two days in the office and three days at home. For the first day, they are reporting to the office. All the celebration around their arrival has really eased some of the anxiety.

Margot’s welcome email included a video tour of the office with 360-degree interactions that allowed them to wander around the office–no asking where the bathroom is! They also got detailed information on where to park, where to enter the building, who to meet up with, and verification of dates and times. And while Margot is sure there is going to be some paperwork to take care of, they were thrilled to see that the first day also includes a team lunch, some one-on-one meetings with their new supervisor and his managers–sort of scary, but cool they are involved.

There are a couple of short training sessions–some short eLearnings about security and safety, but most importantly, Margot gets to meet their onboarding buddy. Margot has never had that experience before. As it was explained during the hiring process, this person is Margot’s main contact–a resource of information, someone to answer questions, and someone who will help Margot be successful.

Margot is not new to the field, but has not done the work for this specific company. They know the overarching theory will probably be applicable, but the actual tactical approaches may be different. Margot was told that they would get a personalized training experience during onboarding and the career progression opportunities within the company.

Margot is excited about the prospect of talking about not just this current position, but how they might grow within the company. Changing jobs is a pain. What if they can really stay with this organization for a long time?


When analyzing an onboarding program <a-hem> it is important to talk about role-specific tasks and performance expectations, of course, but before you get there, it is imperative to talk about all the different types of people who might be hired to fill those roles:

  • External hires with no experience in the workforce, this company, or the role itself
  • External hires with experience in the workforce, but not with this company or this role
  • External hires with experience in the workforce and role experience, but not with this company
  • Internal hires who have upskilled to a new level in the career progression
  • Internal hires who have experience with this company, but not this department or this role

Which type of experience would each of these audiences require? Onboarding? Reboarding? Everboarding?

So, ask the question: “Who typically fills this position?”

More advanced positions may be restricted to internal hires or promotions, or specific level progressions. This person may need a “reboarding” experience. This is the perfect time to provide these folks with administrative information that has changed since they started with the company. Perhaps there have been updated culture items that were rolled out to existing employees, but this is a chance to reinforce and remind them. They need some of the same information your new folks need, but not all of it.

Some people who are hired will be brand new to the workforce. This position may be their first full-time job. What do you want to them to learn? This is your chance to “raise ‘em right”.

Also ask questions about how often these positions are open and how many people are usually hired at a time. Think about positions that often hire cohorts, like a call center or part-time positions. That is a different experience from the one Level 3 Widget Maker the company hires every three years.

Modularized learning options

Develop for the needs of all the audiences and then use them to meet the needs of individuals.

Read it again. I know it sounds like a lot. It is. It would be professionally irresponsible for me to not be transparent about that. But stick with me, I will offer you some tips to make it more manageable.

Think of it like a pyramid you are building from the bottom. There is information all new hires need regardless of where they come from and where they fit into the audiences listed above. This includes all the HR paperwork that goes with starting a new job or new position. This also includes culture, history, safety, compliance, etc.

Then think of the information that is exclusive to new external hires. This can include additional cultural integration, team-building activities, etc., and other information. Ask for pain points from recent external new hires to get the skinny on all the things they wish they had been told.

After you have that, ask an internal new hire the same questions. Once you get to this level, it is going to narrow down to more role-based specifics, but ask the questions to make sure. You may find that this is a great reinforcement opportunity for things like safety and compliance and yes, that should be different from the safety and compliance training for the really new people!

Where do I start?

You will leave analysis with a long list of deliverables. Now you decide where to start.

My advice? Look for deliverables that meet the following parameters:

  • Immediate needs
  • Business priorities
  • Bang for your buck

The reality of it is these programs are typically large-scale and could have lots of deliverables that require a phased approach to development and frankly, funding. To maintain buy-in from leadership who WILL start to get impatient before analysis is even over, you need to have something great to show for your first phase of development, so select carefully.

If you can find deliverables that meet all three of those things–even better! You are most likely going to be building this plane while you are flying it, so watch out for items that require prerequisite information or new staff training (like mentors or onboarding buddies) and support. You can’t decide to roll out the mentor piece unless you get all the mentor ducks in a row.

Journey mapping

Did you know that 91% of employees want personalized, relevant training? (Lorman, 2021)

Your program is developed and ready to really run from start to finish. So how do you make all these deliverables work?

Think about it like this: You are a manager and you have a new person starting in a couple of weeks. You now have a “menu” of training options for them depending on what you think their needs are going to be. There are going to be requirements for the different types of hires, so you have to plan accordingly. This plan is a draft learning journey. Once your newbie starts, there are a couple of ways to approach it.

Internal hires. Confidence or competency surveys are very useful and way less intimidating than “assessments” or other forms of tests for new people. Imagine being a new person in a new place and now they want to TEST you. Not sure that makes the impression you want to make.

Example: You probably have a system that is utilized within the company. Your specific department or roles use it differently, but everyone in the company uses it. Really new people need to know all the things; an internal hire doesn’t. They probably know the navigation in the system and basics that totally new people will not necessarily know.

You could create a simple Likert survey and have someone complete it before they start or within the first day or so. Once you review it, you sit down with the new hire—now in the role of learner—and talk to them about their answers and the draft journey map.

Self-report surveys are often answered in two very different ways. You have people who are overconfident or suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect and will answer that way. Then you have the people who downgrade themselves because they want to appear to overperform, or they have imposter syndrome. There are literally a billion books and articles about these things, but your awareness that these things happen on self-report surveys is enough.

The conversations you have with these learners will be different every time, but you can use questions and coaching tactics to encourage training in areas of need. Err on the side of caution. If you think someone needs training as reinforcement or a refresher, keep it on the journey map. You can always reassess later.

External hires. You can do surveys with them as well, but they should be more generic. You are going to scare off your new person if you ask them a bunch of questions about internal systems or tasks. Can you ask them about email software? Word? Excel? Sure! But if they say they need training for things like that, you need to be prepared to provide it! Analysis <a-hem> will tell you if this is a common issue with new hires and needs to be addressed.

A more realistic way to handle this type of hire is a conversation. Show them the map, and talk to them about what you have selected and why. You may find out that they have used software you use in the past and may not need to start at the beginning. But you don’t know if you don’t have the conversation.

Think past the first day, first week, first month

Did you know that “career reasons” are the top reason employees leave jobs? (Work Institute, 2022)

You do not want to do all of this only to have someone quit in a year. So show them what the first week looks like, the first month, the first year, and beyond. Don’t just show them you value them today. Show them you plan to value them for a long time to come.