Offer in Hand is a three-part summer series collaboration with Real World Playbook. In this first article, they’ll provide guidance for the Paperwork Homework that comes along with starting any new job to help you feel prepared for day one. 

You’ve found an amazing job listing, sent in your resume and a killer cover letter, nailed the interview, and now they’re offering you the job *high five*. Most of the hard work is out of the way, but there are a few key steps that can make or break the way you start your new job. With an offer in hand, here’s what comes next.

Paperwork from a new employer can be intimidating. It’s one of those real world experiences where you want to look like you know what you’re doing, but it’s hard to be sure you actually understand what you need to do.

Maybe you try asking your parents, siblings, or older friends, and while they might have an idea of what to do, it’s always nice to feel like you can figure it out on your own – you’re an adult after all!

Let’s run through a few of the typical forms you’ll see when you start that exciting new job, so you aren’t blindsided come day one.


Government-Related Forms

Whether starting an on-campus gig, summer internship, or that first big job, you will need to fill out a few major government forms: let’s focus on the W-4 and the I-9 forms. Great news: these forms are standard, so you can easily look them up online before your first day to think through your answers (hence the paperwork homework).

These forms are not as complicated as they look, but are really important when it comes to taxes and work eligibility, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to really understand them and fill them out correctly.


W-4 – (aka Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate)

The W-4 form tells your employer how much of your income to withhold for taxes. This form comes into play for each new job and when you have a change in tax filing status (for example if you get married or have a baby).

We know this looks like a lot of info, so we’ve broken it down for you, step-by-step. Just remember that you can always ask your HR rep if you have any questions.


I-9 – (aka Employment Eligibility Verification)

The I-9 form verifies your identity and tells your employer that you are eligible to work in the United States. This form requires you to bring a document or two in to work with you on your first day. If you’re a U.S. citizen, a passport is typically your best bet, but there are a few alternatives.

Unlike the W-4 form, you’ll only need to fill this one out if you start a new job – other life changes should not affect your answers.

We’ve worked through this one for you too, but your HR rep can always answer any questions you have!


Company Specific Forms

Direct Deposit

One simple way to save time (and frequent trips to the ATM) is to sign up for direct deposit, a benefit offered by most employers that allows them to transfer your paycheck automatically to your bank account after each pay period.

Direct Deposit is really simple to set up. You just need your bank account and routing numbers, which you can find on a check, your bank statement, or your bank’s website or mobile app. We’ve walked through where to find these numbers and how to fill out the form here.

As a head’s up – if you decide to sign up for direct deposit, it may take a month or so to kick in, so don’t get worried when the money isn’t rolling in on its own for the first few weeks!

Employer Benefits

Depending on your employer, you might have the opportunity to enroll in certain benefits (think: employer-sponsored health insurance, a 401(k) to save for retirement, etc.). This will differ based upon your company and situation, but it’s a good idea to think ahead about these options before you start working.

We’ve done a bit of the homework on health insurance and retirement accounts for you, but if you need help along the way, you can always discuss your options and any questions with your HR rep. Remember – everyone is in the same boat, and no one starts a new job with all the answers (at least not anyone we know)! With a little prep time, you’ll be good to go.

Stay tuned for more guidance and resources in the next Offer In Hand. Until then, check out our resources on employer paperwork, starting a new job, and daily real world inspiration on our Instagram @realworldplaybook.