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The Great New Hire Announcement

The majority of new hire announcement emails fall flat. Why it’s key to nail this first touch point.

Please join me in welcoming John. As a marketing manager, he will help us reach and convert customers. He comes from a strong B2C background in consumer products and has a deep understanding of digital consumers. I’m thrilled he’s chosen our company.

We’ve all received similar emails announcing new hires and promotions that tell us, well, basically nothing. Not an inkling about where the person previously worked, if he received any industry awards, or what he likes to do in his spare time. Worst of all? Sometimes the person in the spotlight isn’t even copied on the grand welcoming.

At first glance, these notes may not seem like a big deal. But in this “nomad economy,” where highly skilled people are taking on new professional challenges every couple of years, the announcement of a new hire is one of the most important emails we can send. It’s often the first intro for current employees to understand who the person is and why he or she has been chosen out of dozens of candidates. Without details, there’s little incentive for them to want to get to know the person, or put any competitive feelings at bay—which ultimately could affect the work of the team or department.

Not to mention the new hire’s perspective. While hiring managers may think the hard work is done once the paperwork is signed, how a person is introduced to his or her new company leaves a lasting impression. “Onboarding is more than job orientation or training,” notes Hazen Witemeyer, a former Korn Ferry senior principal. “It’s a warm welcome into the culture of the organization.” Here’s how to strike the right tone, whether you’re writing the announcement or receiving it.

Bring out your measuring stick.

It isn’t egotistical to compare the size of your email announcement to others. After all, the emails are going to be scrutinized by your colleagues-to-be, and if your note is longer than other announcements, things may start off on the wrong foot. “Everyone will notice if one person gets eight lines and another gets just one,” says Melissa Roddy, a financial services consultant in New York City.

If you’re the one writing the announcement, think about what information you want to include. Do you want to keep it to all facts or offer a funny anecdote that shows a bit of the person’s personality? The more consistent you can be, both in your phrasing and actions, the better.

And while it should be obvious, we’ll say it again: including details about why the person was chosen for the role and what he or she is expected to do is key to getting the individual and his or her team off to a good start. “One of the most important factors in motivation is knowing where you fit in the organization and how your place in the puzzle contributes to it,” says Kim Zoller, CEO of the executive coaching firm ID360.

See it before it’s sent.

If you’re the new hire, don’t be afraid to ask to see the missive before it’s distributed. Aside from proofreading the piece to ensure it doesn’t have any mistakes—like misspelling your name or offering up some fact that you’d prefer not to be disseminated far and wide—you can also fix the length, should it not suffice.

And for those of you writing the announcement, showing the new hire the email before you send it puts your emotional intelligence on display and demonstrates that you value the individual … which ultimately will help the person feel welcomed and engaged right from the get-go.

Do some damage control.

Nothing looks worse right after the announcement is sent than your new colleagues scouring social media for more intelligence and coming up with that picture you wish Google search results would forget about. And while you may not be able to beat Google’s algorithm, you can spruce up your online presence. If you’re unsure how to do so, ask your hiring manager what may fit with the culture of the company. To that end, it’s good to keep in mind other sensitivities. If you went to an Ivy League school that’s ensnared in the current college admissions scandal, you may want to choose a different Facebook profile picture than the one of you donning your alma mater’s hat. The last thing you want is your social media behaviors (or lack thereof) to be the topic of conversation, instead of what you can actually do to make the company better. 

And if you’re the announcement sender and have only just started the practice of sending the welcome emails, don’t panic if you didn’t send out similar messages about previous hires or promotions. You can include in your announcement how those team members will work with the new hires. “Make it clear you’re just as excited about them as you are about the newest person,” Zoller says.

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