The window of time from offer acceptance through the first few weeks on the job is a critical time for candidates who have made the decision to leave a position they know, to join your team. It may feel like you get a moment to relax after a long or challenging hiring process, but there is a significant opportunity to make the transition a great one for your new hire.

Statistics tell us that changing jobs is one of the top five most stressful events in a person’s life. From the time the candidate accepts the offer there is typically a three week (or more) lag before the person’s first day on the job. What happens in that period of time can be a deal maker – or breaker – for the new hire.

Over the many years that I have been recruiting, I have the benefit of hearing feedback from candidates about their recruiting experience and their satisfaction once on the job. Inevitably, the tone is set from the day the offer is made.

One candidate described a time when she joined the marketing team of well known brand. They gave her a desk at the end of a long dark corridor and her new boss was out for the week. She had no computer, no work to do, and no one offered suggestions to help get her on boarded beyond the HR paperwork. She left the company after only four days.

In contrast, I’ve also seen companies who do it right. Here are a few simple things that hiring managers can do to ensure a positive experience and solidify a candidate’s decision to make a major change in their career.

  • Work closely with the recruiter through the offer process to make sure that any concerns the candidate may have about accepting the position are addressed so there are no second thoughts.
  • Be sure all details of the offer extended verbally are the same on the written documentation. An emailed version of the offer letter should be sent immediately, followed by a mailed or overnight delivery of the hard copy. Often candidates will not officially accept a position until the offer letter is in hand.
  • Once the candidate has accepted the job, make a phone call to congratulate and welcome your new hire to the team. This one gesture will not only positively reinforce the candidate’s decision to accept the new opportunity, it will lessen the chance of a candidate accepting an effective counter offer.
  • In the weeks between offer acceptance and start date, invite the new employee to lunch or to a social event the team may already have planned in that period. Getting to know each other in a more casual atmosphere without having to answer interview questions allows the new hire to begin building the working relationship with their team members.
  • If time or distance doesn’t allow a face-to-face get together before the individual’s official start date, send information that the candidate may want to be aware of as he or she prepares for the first day on the job. For example, if you know there’s a big marketing meeting during the first week on the job – send the agenda and details and let the new hire know what’s ahead.
  • You may also want to send a welcome gift to the new hire. Some ideas include flowers, a gift basket for the whole family to enjoy, or maybe a city guide if the candidate is relocating.
  • On the new hire’s first day on the job, have a peer level person available to answer questions, show the person around more informally, and go to lunch one of the days during that first week.
  • As the hiring manager, be sure to spend time with the new hire on their first day. Share your vision for the role, for the team and for the department. It’s probably been more than a month since you interviewed the candidate, so retelling things you may have covered then will be heard in a new context now that they’ve been hired.

You just invested a significant amount of time and money into hiring, so tip the scales on the side of creating a positive long-term professional relationship with your new hire.