How To Use Your Unfair Advantage To Create an Unforgettable First Day For New Hires


Let’s say that you’ve just hired Emma, one of the most talented [title goes here] on the face of the planet! How cool is that, right?!

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably prepared a powerful (mac)laptop and a gigantic, cinema-size screen waiting for her arrival. But you didn’t stop there, haven’t you? You smart, devilish-fox…

You also came up with one or two tasks she can do on her first day at work, maybe even considered to let her press the BIG RED button and deploy her work to production. Anything you can do to make her feel frighteningly productive, eh? Nodding your head?

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re doing it wrong.

People want to connect with people, not with todo lists

Even though feeling productive is a strong emotion, it is also a short-lived one. In order to create a long lasting emotion, a real WOW effect, you have to create a personal bond.

Research has shown that a person’s mood can be affected even by 3 degrees of separation from people they don’t even know. That’s right, t-h-r-e-e. Do you remember feeling utterly ecstatic because a task of a user-story of a feature smiled at your direction? Nope? Nothing? Bingo!

It’s time to pull out your secret weapon.


 AirBnB’s secret weapon


Do you remember the slide of which investors drool on? The one with those smiling faces of people trying to have fun and build things? “Our Team”, you refer to it (others may call it holy-f$ck-what-a-bunch-of-geeks), and this, my friend, is your unfair advantage.

Ever wondered how you can use this handsome bunch of people to create an unforgettable first day at work for your new employees?

“Your job is to bring down the walls”

I really like the way Roy Klein, our newest secret weapon at Commerce Sciences, puts it –

You’re job at the first week is to bring down the walls and let new teammates talk and get to know the team. If they’re good, they’ll be effective anyway, so don’t worry so much about it. Find ways to make them connect. Eat lunch out every day together, play some Team Fortress 2. Whatever works!

Some ideas to get your brain ticking, your heart pumping and your face doing some funky stuff

Make them smile

To fuel your creativity, let me share a personal story. Five years ago, after getting a super talented engineer to agree joining the team at Delver, I wanted to make sure he’ll have an awesome first day.

I was so excited to have him with us that my mind was spinning like crazy, figuring out how to make it a memorable first day.

About a week before he joined, I saw on Facebook that he raved about Let’s Say You’ve Gone Back in Time poster. “Ahh!”, I thought, “I can purchase it and have it framed!” This is exactly what I did, having it hang above his workstation, waiting for his arrival.

Ask your team to be creative, to go crazy, to give away some loovvvvve

If you know that your new guy or gal enjoy playing a game, say Startcraft 2, maybe you can buy a miniature and place it on their table, with a little note “We’ve got your back! Attack!” Or, if your new hire is a part of distributed team, send them a barber shop quartet to sing her a song.

It’s time to pull some Nicki Minaj craziness to show them you were waiting for them!

Make it a company tradition

We have a little tradition, where the last person to join the company is responsible to create a “starter kit” for the next one to join. No rules, no guidelines, just your creativity, time and effort. It’s something that started before I joined, and it blew my mind on my first day at work. What a day!

8 months ago, when Omri joined the company, it was my turn to prepare something for him. Luckily, I had the chance to sit with him for lunch before his official arrival. We had an interesting discussion about our shared interests and how we’re both fascinated by “brain hacks” – figuring out how our brain works and how we could utilize it better. I remembered a great book I read called Your Brain: The Missing Manual and thought to myself that it would be a great welcome gift to give him. I knew that 5 years from now, when Omri opens this book and re-reads my dedication on the first page, he’ll remember his first day with us. It wasn’t much of a starter kit (yes, we had his working station ready as well ;)), but it was something I thought he would appreciate. I hoped it would make his first day with us memorable.

When our latest teammate, Roy, joined us, it was Omri’s turn to prepare an awesome starter kit. I forgot to mention that Omri is our marketing hero and by far the most creative dude on the team. The box you see at the top of this post was made by Omri, and was waiting on the table for Roy when he arrived. It was filled with jokes, coffee capsules, nerf-gun ammo (don’t ask) and above all, Omri’s personality.

Passionate about #culture and #people?

Check out my latest side-project, SoftwareLeadWeekly.

Your turn!

Do you have a story you can share about how you WOW-ed your new teammates? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Oren Ellenbogen

Curate awesomeness @ , Engineer @ Commerce Sciences, Author of , Explorer of Company DNA.