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Ready to make your first hire? We’ve got the new hire checklist your startup needs.

Making that first hire is a great feeling, right startup founders and entrepreneurs? It means your business is growing. But with all the excitement that growth brings, you may find yourself wondering what onboarding new employees to your tech startup requires. Here’s a new hire checklist specifically for startups, that includes the basic forms and documents you’ll need to get the job done.

A Note on the Importance of Digital Onboarding

Before we get into the actual checklist, let’s talk about why your startup should have a streamlined onboarding process. We’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post titled “Nurture Your MVPs” that digital onboarding is linked with improved employee productivity. If you’re starting a business or simply refining your startup’s hiring process, consider how impactful digitization is.

“Almost every HR function is seeing an explosion of new technologies — from referral tools to candidate relationship management to assessment tools to applicant tracking,” writes Forbes. We encourage startups to take advantage of improvements to the onboarding process that streamline the process for employees.

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New-Hire Checklist for Tech Startups

Consult this checklist for everything your startup needs to hire your first employees.

Offer letter

According to a survey by Accountemps, salary aside, there are a few key factors that are highly valued by candidates when they receive a job offer letter. 70% of survey respondents identified 3 key areas of importance:

  1. Vacation/PTO
  2. Corporate culture/work environment
  3. Career advancement potential

Employee handbook

Communication is important when it comes to an employee handbook. Employees are more likely to use it if the book is well-written and clear, according to this article in BizJournals.

I-9 File

An I-9 is one of a few pieces of onboarding documentation you’ll need from your new hire to ensure business compliance. While you may be more familiar with a few other pieces of important paperwork, such as a W-4 and a job application (both of which must be kept on file for an employee), an I-9 may be overlooked by new businesses.

Job description

Put effort into the job description you give your new employees because they serve as a roadmap for new hires that are navigating their role and responsibilities at your startup. And just in case you don’t already know, there’s a difference between a job posting and a job description, the latter of which is used for onboarding.

Benefits package

Onboarding should include information about the benefits your new hire is entitled to. This includes details about deferred compensation (many startups offer alternative compensation to compete for talent).

Salary structure + bonus guidelines

Outline how salary is structured at your startup, included bonuses (like guaranteed or discretionary bonuses). Forbes advises that salary information should include how raises are assessed (e.g., annually), and that information on bonuses should spell out details and contingencies.


Non-competes are vital to the tech startup industry, where employees are often exposed to proprietary information that, if shared, could damage the company. When an employee signs a non-compete, they are agreeing not to leave your company and work for a competitor. A non-compete often includes the following key components: Duration, Scope, and Geography.


It makes sense for a startup to ask new hires to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect new technologies and other information that, if leaked, would be damaging. Don’t expect investors to sign an NDA (most won’t), but where tech employees are concerned, an NDA is standard business. You can choose between a mutual or a one-sided agreement (find more details on what to include in your NDA here).

Background check

While background checks are pretty standard fare during new employee onboarding, a startup may not realize the legal rights that a new hire has in this process. For example, you cannot ask new employees for medical information and in most cases, genetic information. Learn more about what the EEOC expects from employers who perform background checks here.

Outsourced Onboarding for Startups

Equipped with this new hire checklist, your startup can offer a thorough onboarding process for new hires. If you don’t have time to do onboarding yourself, consider outsourcing the service with Growthwright. Our team of industry experts offer a flexible suite of professional services, including a streamlined single-portal digital onboarding process.

Bridgette is the Director of Human Resources at Growthwright, with 12+ years of experience in all areas of Human Resources including: Benefit Administration, Employee Relations, Performance Appraisals and Compensation Management, New Hire Orientation and Onboarding and Recruiting.

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