Make New Hires Feel Like a Celebrity on Their First Day

Carter Cleveland
Oct 24, 2015 4:00AM

At Artsy, one of our core values is People are Paramount, so we strive to go above and beyond to make sure their first experience in the office lives up to that value. A lot of great advice has been written on the importance of someone’s first day or week at the office and ways to design an amazing onboarding experience for new employees with examples that include gift baskets, notes, and a personal greeting from their lead. We follow most of this great advice and don’t need to repeat it here. 

However, we believe that the most important factor in a new person’s experience is how they are received and treated by other people theyre meeting in the office. Do people know who they are? Are existing employees genuinely excited to meet them? Here’s what we do to make people feel like a celebrity on their first day in the office. 

Write every new person an epic welcome email to the team

Welcome emails take a significant amount of time to write well and cannot be outsourced or added to an onboarding checklist because they are all completely unique and tailored to the person they’re welcoming. It’s common for our People Operations team to collaborate with leads on their welcome email (especially the first time) to ensure it’s up to our high standards.

Writing a good welcome email should be a natural summarization of why we chose to hire the candidate in the first place and its quality should reflect the quality of the recruiting process that went into finding the candidate. If an exciting and enthusiastic welcome email is hard to write, then it may point to deeper issues in the recruiting process.


Example email

“Team, I’m excited to announce that Remy Ferber will be joining our team as Executive Assistant to me and Sebastian. She’ll ​be primarily focused on our emails and special projects as they arise; and will be tag-teaming with Alicia who will continue to handle scheduling, travel, and other logistics remotely from Rhode Island.

Having just graduated from college, Remy is the least experienced of the thousands who applied for this role. However, her fundamentals and references were the strongest. At university she received multiple scholarships and awards, including Excellence in Art History and the President’s Medal, ‘Awarded annually to the senior who exemplifies the ideal Grinnell student based on: demonstrated leadership, superior scholarship, poise and maturity, compassion and astuteness.

Her references consistently described her as both the highest performer and the person they most enjoyed working with. Her reference from MoMA said that even two years later ‘the HR people are still always asking about her. I want to shake her and tell her you don’t know how good that is, they get 1000 applications a day and ask about you!’ Her reference from Harvard Art Museum described how ‘Ill still get emails from her, from where she is somewhere in world, looking at a work of art that reminds her of us. The email is always eloquent, beautifully written–so touching, so Remy.’ Despite being a high-achiever in class and student govt, peers noted that Remy always took the time to make people happy. One reference described how Remy responded when tragedy hit the frisbee team at a competitive college, by getting 10 frisbees signed by students at Grinnell, and sending them over as a condolence gift.

It’s also worth noting that her cover letter immediately stood out–critical for someone handling communications. In fact, I enjoyed re-reading it so much that I’ve copied it in below in case others might enjoy it too.

I look forward to introducing Remy to you in person next week when she starts."


Great welcome emails go beyond including basic information, they inspire emotion. Here’s a section of our recruiting playbook:

“To achieve our goal of making a new hire feel like a celebrity on their first day in the office, a good welcome email should:

  • Get the team inspired and excited to work with the candidate
  • Explain what the candidate will be doing and who they report to
  • Be written by the person primarily responsible for recruiting and managing the candidate
  • Include a headshot so people will recognize them when they arrive

A good intro will cause team members to think:

  • ‘Wow, this person is impressive, I’m inspired to be on the same team as them’
  • ‘Wow, this person sounds awesome, I can’t wait to meet and work with them’
  • ‘I clearly understand how the candidate will contribute to Artsy’s goals’

A good intro will cause the candidate to think:

  • ‘Wow, did my references really say that about me?!’
  • ‘Wow, I have huge expectations to live up to’
  • ‘Wow, Artsy really cares about its people—I can’t wait to meet more of the team’ "

In summary, it’s important to nail the basics of good onboarding. But making someone feel like a celebrity on their first day goes beyond basics and is more about the emotional experience of how they’re received by all the people they meet. Your goal should be to ensure that people feel as excited as possible about the candidate so they get that special emotional experience on their first day.

Carter Cleveland
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019