When you write a job offer letter, you’re initiating the beginning of a business relationship between a new employee and the company, and the terms of the offer must be presented formally and explicitly. Doing so prevents confusion—or at a later point, debate—about both employee and company expectations once employment starts.
The job offer letter can be delivered to the new hire after they’ve accepted an initial verbal offer or an initial email offer. There’s always a chance the new hire could choose to negotiate the terms once presented with a job offer letter. When you write a job offer letter, it serves as a starting point for negotiating if a candidate has concerns about the initial offer.
Here are the basics of what to include when you write a job offer letter: company name; position title; salary amount; pay period information (specifically whether pay is weekly, bi-monthly, monthly); and start date. Also, include information on employee status (full-time or part-time); exempt or non-exempt status info; and the name and title of the new employee’s manager. Finally, note any conditions of employment and probationary period information (if applicable).
One of the most important things to explain in a job offer letter are the directions on how to accept the offer—where to sign and date, and how and when to return. Once the letter is signed and sent back to you, the deal is official!
Series of Tips/Steps
1. Open and close the job offer letter with enthusiasm
When you write a job offer letter, you need to keep the tone professional, direct, and as to-the-point as possible. The details of the offer are a serious matter. That said, don’t curb your enthusiasm with the opening sentence—let the new employee know that you’re pleased to extend the offer. And don’t skimp on the excitement in the closing, either. Expressing some excitement about how you hope they accept and sign the offer, or that you’re looking forward to welcoming them in person to the company goes a long way in making a new employee feel welcome.
2. Cover all the key specifics
There are a lot of critical elements that must be laid out when you write a job offer letter. Again, this is to prevent any confusion or conflict on day one (or further down the road) about what the employee expects from the company, and vice versa. The basics are easy— company name, job title, and start date, for instance. But also cover:
o Base salary: This should be noted as an annual total if the offer is for full-time employment (for example, $125,000), ), or as an hourly total if not full-time (for example, $45 per-hour).
o Employment status: Is this position part-time or full-time? (Full-time is usually 40-hours per week; part-time varies but is typically 20-30 hours per week)
o Job functions: You might consider detailing all job duties in a separate attachment, or briefly list these responsibilities in the offer letter.
o Benefits: Attach information about benefits in a separate document, or briefly outline these in the offer letter, noting eligibility requirements.
3. Be sure to stipulate critical conditions
The completion and return of a Form I-9 is a common contingency. Others might include the passing of a drug test or the completion and return of a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement.
When you write a job offer letter and are preparing to mail it off, gather all other forms (and their instructions for completion) that need to be signed, and note in the job offer letter the date by which you need them signed and returned.
4. Define what “at-will employment” means
At-will employment means that both the company and the employee can end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, with or without cause or notice. Clearly define in the offer letter what at will employment means if your company adheres to this type of arrangement with its employees.
You should also clearly state that the job offer letter replaces all other forms of communication regarding the position and that it’s complete. This is what is called an entire agreement clause.
5. Add a little light to the letter
Job offer letters can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. So much information, and so many new terms (for some us at least). When you write a job offer letter, consider including something like an invitation to a first-day welcome lunch, and always include a point of contact, so the new employee knows who to reach with any questions that come up before the first day.
6. Get a signature and note the return date
You must leave space at the end of the offer for the new employee’s signature. Include explicit word that makes it clear that they understand all of the terms of employment, and also that note that by signing, they are indicating that they understand that they’re an at-will employee (if that applies). Consider including an expiration date on the letter, which notes when the job offer will expire.
The deal isn’t sealed until the offer letter is signed, dated, and delivered back by a specific date. Indicate this clearly in the letter.
7. Take the letter to your legal department for a review
Send off your job offer letter with that certainty that there are no legal loopholes in the letter, or language that could be interpreted as discriminatory. How do you achieve this? By having your legal department review your letter. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to official documents and is especially important with a job offer letter.