Keys to Successful Contractor Onboarding

Contractor OnboardingContractor Onboarding

By Nathan Lundberg
Contract Services Manager

One of the many things that sets Coyote Creek’s Contract Services offering apart from that of competitors is our hands-on approach to consultant management. We don’t just send a person out on an assignment and then figure that “no news is good news.” We actively stay in contact to ensure that their experience is going well—especially during those crucial first days and weeks. When making these follow-up calls, one of the things that never ceases to surprise me is how frequently organizations will pay to bring in a contractor, and then fail to give any thought at all to the contractor onboarding process.

Why contractor onboarding is so important

If you’re bringing in a contractor with an option or possibility of conversion to employee status, getting them off to a good start is vitally important. After all, we’re currently in the midst of a very tight labor market. You may be seeing a contract-to-hire arrangement as a way to “try before you buy.” Your contractor is probably seeing it that way, too. Well-qualified IT professionals have choices, and many use contract positions to “test” a company and see if they’re a good fit.

But what if you’re just bringing in this person for a set period of time to accomplish a particular task, with no chance of employee status? Even in this situation you want to make a positive impression. People talk. When the contractor completes the assignment, you don’t want them telling all of the IT professionals they know that your organization is a terrible place to work. And if you ever want to bring that person in for another short-term contract, you’ll want them to be willing to come back.

Of course, these are not the only reasons why you should have a formal contractor onboarding process. There’s also the financial cost of being disorganized. I’ve seen many situations where contractors just sit around for a days, unable to get started because they do not have the tools or necessary authorizations to do so.

7 important things to include in your contractor onboarding process

Here are some of the things you should do to ensure things go smoothly. Keep in mind that the first few steps on this list need to be completed before the contractor arrives for their first day of work:

  1. Access badge for the building – Once someone meets the contractor in your lobby and brings them over to your department, they’ll need to be able to come and go without requiring an escort each time!
  2. Functioning workstation – Your contractor will need an identified place to sit, complete with a fully functioning computer system that includes everything necessary for them to be able to do their job (i.e. lap top, desk top, etc.).
  3. Necessary accounts and access – Make a list of all of the accounts and system access/authorizations that the contractor will need to be able to do their job, such as email account, JIRA access, etc., and get it all set up.
  4. An orientation plan for the contractor’s first day – There should be someone dedicated to getting your contractor off to a good start on their first day of work. This includes everything from the basics, such as showing them the location of the bathrooms and break rooms, to job-specific things such as providing a “tour” of the network and systems. Remember, not everyone can just show up and navigate the ins and outs of your system on the fly. Some people need a little more structure and guidance to get going. Plus, even those who can do things on the fly will become productive more quickly if someone takes a little time to show them where things are and how things work.
  5. A lunch plan for the contractor’s first day – Someone, preferably a manager or direct team member (or, even better, both!) should take the contractor to lunch on their first day of work. This is important opportunity to start getting to know the contractor as a person, and to help them start feeling like they’re part of the team.
  6. A plan for the contractor’s first two weeks – Your contractor should be given specific deliverables, and there should be an identified person who is available to answer questions as they arise.
  7. A commitment to include the contractor in team meetings – If it is at all possible (depending on what is being discussed), include your contractor in team meetings. This helps them build a bond with the team, which in turn helps them feel good about being at your organization. If you’re hoping that your contractor will eventually become an employee, including them is part of the “wooing” process. Even if it’s strictly a short-term contractor position, the person will be there for three to six months, so you should make the most of it.


When contractors start a new project they’re excited to get in and get to work. They get frustrated and demoralized if they immediately face hours or days of sitting around waiting for people, waiting to get a laptop, waiting for access to the systems on which they were hired to work, waiting for the details of their assignment, and so forth. And all of this waiting, waiting, waiting—which can usually be easily avoided—is a massive waste of money and resources for you. In fact, I’ve even had a situation where a contractor quit after the first day on the job because he felt the onboarding process was so bad that it didn’t bode well for the rest of the assignment. Don’t let this type of thing happen to you!

Need help recruiting contractors for your IT team? Give us a call. We’ll find the ideal candidates, rigorously screen them and then send them your way.