Hiring new recruitment consultants is a great sign of a growing, confident business. Assuming you can find and hire good candidates, which we’ll save for another post, you need to look carefully at how you onboard new hires. If you get it wrong, both the direct, and opportunity costs, can be huge. Turnover rates for new recruitment consultants are insanely high. How can better on-boarding help?

Set Them Up For Success

You need to start with a plan. Hopefully you’ll be recruiting regularly because you are growing, not because you’re churning staff. Even if you’re a small business, who only recruits a couple of times a year, it makes sense to have a consistent on-boarding experience.

At the very least you want a checklist for managers to follow. It needs to cover at least the first six months of employment. It also needs to be adaptable. Tailor it to meet the needs of the individuals. You’ve invested a lot in them just to get them through the door on day one, so invest a little more and set them up to be successful. You should have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting from the interview process:

  • Have they worked in recruitment or other sales roles?
  • What kind of client facing experience do they have?
  • How confident are they on the phone?

But take the time to dig a bit deeper. Now they’ve got their feet under the table, you can uncover a bit more about them. What are they confident at, where might they need a bit more support?


The most important element to creating a strong six month on-boarding plan, is balance. You have to manage the balance between:

  • Training on core skills for new recruitment consultants
  • Learning how you do things round here – your culture
  • Putting things into practice, learning from experience and actually doing their job.

How do we learn to do new things?

You can break most learning down into three stages.


We call it ICE Learning.

Step 1 – Ideas: what is this new concept? How does it work in theory and practice?

Step 2 – Context: how does that new idea get put into practice in my organisation? What do I need to know to put it into practice? When should/shouldn’t I use it?

Step 3 – Execution: Putting it into practice, learning from the experience through reflection, getting feedback and tweaking how you use it.

Think about how this applies to on-boarding. All new recruitment consultants joining your team are going to have to go through this process for everything they learn. Some will have an idea of what you want them to do. But they won’t have the context of how you do it in your business. And they’ll need feedback when they start doing it, so they know they are doing it the right way.

How Do You Train New Recruitment Consultants?

There are many options available. And there are no right or wrong choices. Just so long as you find a balance that supports the whole ICE learning experience.

How do you introduce ideas?

1.Face to face training

Few of us have the resources for a permanent in-house learning and development team, so this usually falls to managers. This can be a great option if the manager is comfortable delivering training because they can give context and build a strong relationship with the consultant. But it impacts on their ability to bill, manage the rest of the team and not everyone likes delivering training. Instead you might bring a specialist trainer in, or even send the new hire on an external, open course. This takes the load off the manager, but they will still need to provide that context and keep close tabs on how the training is going.

2. Online Training

Content libraries like Juice offer a convenient way of training new hires. Everything you need is laid out in a broad syllabus. You can just sit them in front of the screen and leave them to work through it. While it’s tempting to do this, it’s a bit like giving your kids the iPad to keep them quiet. You can convince yourself it’s educational, but there’s a limit to how useful it really is and how often you should do it. Managers still need to be briefing and debriefing people to check their understanding.

How do you establish context?

1. Coaching

At desk coaching is a great way for managers to establish how well the new hire has understood the ideas. Through careful questioning you can help them find the right answers.

2. Buddy up

Matching up a more experienced member of your team as a buddy can be really effective. The new hire can shadow them and see, or hear, how to do it your way, rather than just be told about it. This is really effective, so long as the example they are seeing is a good one!

How do you support execution?

1. Set realistic goals

Give them tasks that help them put their learning into action as soon as possible. Set goals that help them build their confidence in each new skill. Don’t set them up to fail!

2. Regular Reviews

The key to successful execution is regular feedback. Review what they have done, discuss how it went, find out how they feel about it, coach them to find be better next time.

Getting on-boarding right isn’t easy. But it can save you and your team a fortune in wasted time and opportunity.