How to Build a Successful New Grad Hiring and Onboarding Program: Lessons from a Top Canadian Employer

As the job market becomes more competitive, startups need to look for new talent pools, and one of the most promising is recent graduates. However, recruiting and retaining new grads can be challenging, especially for startups with limited resources. But there are ways to turn new grads into valuable employees with the right onboarding and training program. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how a top Canadian employer, Dialectica, built a successful new grad hiring and onboarding program that ranks as one of Canada’s best employers for recent grads and Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

Building a Candidate Funnel: Partnership is Key

The first step in building a successful new grad hiring program is to create a candidate funnel that attracts the right talent. Dialectica decided to focus on new grad recruits for the Client Service Associate role, which requires no-to-limited experience. However, the company faced a key challenge when it expanded to Canada: lack of brand recognition. To overcome this challenge, Dialectica partnered with local communities, including universities, YES Montreal, and associations, to build trust with candidates. The company conducted workshops, social media activities, and Instagram takeovers to create brand awareness and interest towards the company.

Onboarding is Retention: Structured Training, Mentorship, and Regular Check-Ins

The second step in building a successful new grad hiring program is to provide structured onboarding, training, and mentorship. Dialectica built a fully structured onboarding program that starts with 10 days of role-specific training and extends throughout a new grad’s first year. The program features additional training for new responsibilities that might pop up in the job, such as project management and client communication. Dialectica also has a mentorship program that pairs new grads with more senior or experienced employees who become an informal go-to resource for new employees. In terms of check-ins, managers are expected to informally check in regularly during a new employee’s first month and conduct a formal check-in after a month on the job to see if the new employee feels comfortable on the job and to share feedback on the individual’s performance. Finally, Dialectica has a people and culture team that conducts a final check-in a few months into the role to get a full view of the employee’s onboarding experience.

Retention: Helping Employees Grow and Support One Another

The final step in building a successful new grad hiring program is to retain talent by helping employees grow and support one another. Dialectica focuses its retention efforts on helping employees grow and support one another, which leads to new work opportunities. The company has a “mini-MBA” program that teaches soft skills and other transferable business skills employees can leverage throughout their whole career. Dialectica also provides career growth and opportunities, which can happen in two years or fewer compared to the 3-5 years required at many other client service consultancies. The speed of development comes from how much the company invests in training, citing the multiple Canadian employees who have already been promoted even though Dialectica’s Canadian office is only two years old.


Building a successful new grad hiring program requires a structured onboarding, training, and mentorship program that provides new grads with people to connect with and learn from. Startups can build a candidate funnel by partnering with local communities and conducting workshops, social media activities, and Instagram takeovers to create brand awareness and interest towards the company. Retention efforts should focus on helping employees grow and support one another, providing new work opportunities, and offering career growth and opportunities. By following these steps, startups can turn new grads into valuable employees who contribute to the success of the company.

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