What Does an Onboarding Specialist Do?

Looking to know about an onboarding specialist? You’re at the right place.

An onboarding specialist onboards new employees and helps them transition into their roles within a company. They introduce new employees to the company culture, values, and mission. Onboarding specialists help new hires understand their roles within the company and what is expected of them.

Hiring skilled and productive employees is a challenging task for any organization. Once the organization finds the right employees, they ensure that these employees are equipped to succeed in their roles. Many organizations have an onboarding specialist to ensure that new hires start performing and become productive as soon as possible.

Organizations hire onboarding specialists for employee integration and a maintaining positive work experience. In this article, we’ll explore the role of an onboarding specialist, what they do, and what qualifications you need to succeed in this field.

What does an Onboarding Specialist do?

The responsibilities of an onboarding specialist vary from company to company. However, some of their key responsibilities include:

  • Introducing new employees to the company culture
  • Emailing/calling new employees before their first day
  • Managing new hire’s paperwork
  • Helping new hires understand their roles within the company
  • Setting expectations for new employees
  • Providing resources and support to new employees
  • Assisting new employees to acclimate to their new roles
  • Monitoring the progress of new employees

Besides the general responsibilities mentioned above, onboarding specialists also have unique responsibilities based on their organization’s work infrastructure.

For example, a customer onboarding specialist helps new customers get started with a product or service. It may involve providing training, answering questions, and offering support. After onboarding customers, they transfer them to a customer success manager to establish long-term success plans.

Steps to Become an Onboarding Specialist

Software onboarding specialists train new employees to work with a software application. It includes providing training, answering questions, and offering support.

HR onboarding specialists work with the human resource department to develop and execute employee orientation programs. Their job duties involve working with managers to ensure that they integrate all new employees into their teams.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical responsibilities of an HR onboarding specialist job.

1. Creating Policies and Handbooks for Explaining Company Operations

An important responsibility of an onboarding specialist is to develop policies and handbooks that explain the company’s operations. New employees will have queries about how the company works. Onboarding specialists are responsible to answer their questions. They also explain the company’s policies and procedures in a comprehensive for new employees to understand in an easy way.

Onboarding specialists develop policy manuals and employee handbooks. These documents explain the company’s policies and procedures in detail. They also provide new employees with a resource they can refer to in case of any queries.

Looking to know more about onboarding and offboarding? Enroll in our top-rated HR courses to upskill your technical knowledge and excel at your career:

Human Resources Certifications

2. Welcoming New Employees

Onboarding specialists play a vital role in making new employees feel welcome and at home. They are the first point of contact for new employees. Hence, they exhibit passionate and helpful nature. They communicate with new employees and help them feel comfortable in their new work environment.

Onboarding specialists give new employees tours of the office. They also introduce them to their colleagues. In addition, they help new employees with any questions and queries that they have.

3. Conducting Training Sessions

Another key responsibility of an onboarding specialist is to conduct training sessions for new employees. Training helps new employees understand their roles and responsibilities. It also helps them learn the skills they need to succeed in their roles.

Employees learn about the vision and values of the company by attending these sessions. They also get to know their colleagues and learn about the company’s culture. Training enables new employees to hit the ground running from day one. Know that all these responsibilities come on the plate of an onboarding specialist.

Onboarding specialists conduct group training sessions. However, they also provide one-on-one training when necessary.

The topics covered in onboarding training sessions include the company’s history and values, the company’s products and services, the company’s policies and procedures, and the employee’s role within the company. For example, if you are running a profitable technology company, your HR onboarding specialist must make sure that new customer service representatives have proficiency with your company’s software for immediate success.

4. Offering Manuals and Guidelines

In addition to training sessions, onboarding specialists also provide new employees with manuals and guidelines. Onboarding specialists bridge this gap by providing new hires with the guidance and support they need. These documents explain the company’s policies and procedures in detail. They provide resources to new employees to whom they can refer for their queries.

Manuals and guidelines are essential for employees with high-responsibility roles. For example, a human resources manager often refers to the company’s employee handbook. Similarly, a sales manager refers to the company’s sales manual.

Onboarding specialists develop manuals and guidelines themselves. However, they also work in collaboration with other departments to create these comprehensive guides. For example, an onboarding specialist works with the human resources department to develop an employee handbook.

5. Offering Technical Assistance

Companies use a variety of software programs to run their businesses. Onboarding specialists must exhibit familiarity with these software programs. They also provide new employees with technical assistance related to this software.

Typical Duties of an Onboarding Specialist

For example, an onboarding specialist will help a new employee set up their email account. They also support a new employee in installing the company’s software on their computer. In addition, they help a new employee solve technical problems they may have.

6. Collecting and Processing Paperwork

Collecting and processing the paperwork of new employees is another crucial responsibility of onboarding specialists. This paperwork includes the employee’s contact information, emergency contact information, medical history, and criminal background check.

Onboarding specialists ensure that all of this paperwork is completed on time. They also ensure that it is filed in the correct and safe location. In addition, they keep track of any deadlines associated with this paperwork.

7. Arranging Presentations and Demos

Organizations provide presentations and demos to new employees on their first day. It is the responsibility of onboarding specialists to arrange these presentations and demos. They must make sure that new employees understood the topics covered. For example, an onboarding specialist will present the company’s products and services. They will also give a demo of the company’s software to the new hires.

HR Onboarding Specialist Skills

Onboarding specialists must exhibit a variety of general and unique onboarding skills. However, a few generic skills are essential for all onboarding specialists to excel and perform in their roles. Let’s take a look at what skills a typical onboarding specialist job description entails:

1. Communication Skills

Effective verbal and written communication skills are crucial for onboarding specialists. They explain things to new employees for their guidance.

In addition, onboarding specialists develop manuals and guidelines. They give presentations and demos. All of these activities require effective verbal and written communication skills. Poor communication skills can lead to confusion and frustration for both onboarding specialists and new employees.

For example, if you are a customer onboarding specialist, you must communicate necessary information to various types of customers, like educationists, small business owners, or government customers.

2. Effective Team Work Ability

The onboarding process is a collective team effort. Onboarding specialists work with human resources, sales, and IT departments to onboard skilled employees that are a perfect fit for the organization’s needs.

In addition, onboarding specialists work with various personality types. Some people are very outgoing and easy to work with. Others are introverted and require more patience. Onboarding specialists must build relationships with other departments and new employees. They also resolve any conflicts that may arise. All these duties demand excellent teamwork skills which onboarding specialists must exhibit.

3. Experience with MS Office and HRIS Systems

A majority of businesses use Microsoft Office for documentation and to run their day-to-day operations. Onboarding specialists must exhibit familiarity with Microsoft Office programs, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

In addition, many companies use HRIS systems to store employee data. Human resources information systems (HRIS) is a technology that helps businesses manage their employee data. Onboarding specialists must exhibit familiarity with how to use HRIS systems.

4. Familiarity with Employment Laws

Familiarity with employment law is a fundamental skill for anyone who’s involved in recruitment and the onboarding process. Therefore, onboarding specialists must have sound knowledge of labor legislation. They must hold command over regulations like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

They also hold the familiarity with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces employment laws. Onboarding specialists exhibit strong knowledge of EEOC’s guidelines to ensure that all new hires comply with the law.

5. Excellent Time Management Skills

Professional onboarding specialists must exhibit to skills manage their time to perform multiple tasks at once and meet deadlines. Poor time management skills lead to longer onboarding processes that not just result in the organization’s loss but also cause frustration in new employees.

Onboarding Specialist Qualifications

The qualifications of an onboarding specialist depend on the industry in which they work. However, a few qualifications are essential for all onboarding specialists to excel in their roles:

  • A bachelor’s degree in human resources management or a related field
  • A few companies also accept an associate’s degree
  • Experience working as an onboarding employee or human resources employee
  • Experience with human resource software systems


Onboarding specialists is a profitable career path to choose with a lot of scope for growth. The right skill set and industry experience will help you excel in this role. So, if you are interested in pursuing an onboarding specialist career path, start working towards it today.


Here is a list of the most-asked questions about an onboarding specialist’s role:

Do you need a degree to become an onboarding specialist?

Onboarding specialists require a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in communication, human resources management, business administration, or a related field. Experience in human resources and customer services is also beneficial. You must hold technical HR knowledge to solve people’s problems.

What is an onboarding job?

An onboarding job is a position where a professional integrates new employees into an organization. The onboarding process lasts several weeks or months and includes activities such as orientations, training, and mentorship. Onboarding specialists work in the human resources department of an organization and report to the HR manager.

What is a client onboarding specialist?

A client onboarding specialist is a professional who integrates new clients into an organization. They are responsible for delivering great customer service and ensuring that the client is comfortable using the company’s products or services. Client onboarding specialists work in the customer service department of an organization and report to the customer service manager.

If you are new to human resources and are looking to break into an HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.