The Career Analytics Company

How to add the 5th C for Careers to the 4C model for onboarding

May 8, 2019


As an organization, you have about 90 days to make sure new recruits fit in, regardless of whether  they are young potentials or more experienced workers (Kammeyer-Mueller, 2012). Successful onboarding is broadly considered as ‘the pro-active covering of compliance, clarification, culture and connection’; also known as the 4C model (Bauer, 2010).

What is striking, however, is that the 4 C’s in this model emanate from the organizational point of view. What about the perspective of the individual on work and their career? It seems to me that if you want to improve the quality of your onboarding process  it is crucial to integrate the individual and organizational perspective. 

In this blog, I want to make a case for adding one more C to the 4C model: one that stands for Careers. 

Since Bauer created the model in 2010, references to the 4C model for onboarding have become prevalent across the internet. According to her model there are 4 distinct levels in the onboarding process:  

  • Compliance is the lowest level and includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations.

  • Clarification ensures that employees understand their new job and all the expectations related to it.

  • Culture is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms, both formal and informal.

  • Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish.


When studying this model I cannot help but think that it is constructed almost exclusively from an organizational point of view. From an individual’s point of view, I can imagine that there is more to a successful onboarding than understanding what legal and cultural rules are to be followed, being aware of what is expected in terms of performance, and knowing where to get the information they need to get the job done. In this conceptualization of onboarding, we seem to forget that nowadays individuals seek meaning, mastery, and affiliation (Ryan &Deci), positive psycholoical capital or energy (Youssef & Luthans, 2007) and even happiness (Fisher, 2010) in their jobs and careers.  


This calls for an organization to consciously and deliberately investigate the intrinsic motivation and career outlook of employees and facilitate qualitative career dialogues with employees as of day one, and even in the pre-boarding phase.


I would describe the C for Careers as follows: “clarifying how a win-win between the individual perspective on the career will be integrated with that of the organization.” As employees are increasingly aware that part of a good, long-term fit with an organization comes down to the degree to which a win-win between employees and the organization in terms of career satisfaction and productivity can be realized. New recruits will have questions about how their personal career objectives will be addressed by the organization from day one.

How to get started with the fifth C in onboarding? 


1.    During pre-boarding, collect evidence based data about the career outlook of new recruits. With the possibilities that SaaS technology currently provides, it is not hard to get evidence based data about individuals in a fast and efficient way. 


2.    The Pre-boarding  phase is an excellent timing to have a first qualitative dialogue, based on the evidence based data, about the career outlook. As professional recruiters molt towards career coaches more and more, they are in an excellent position to help the individual get a good understanding of their personal career outlook and prepare them for the negotiation a career has become. Recruiters, for instance, can help new recruits to identify the topics they need to address with their managers.