How NOT to Write a Job Offer Letter

October 26th, 2012

If you’re a manager or HR pro for a large, established company, your job offer letters are probably standardized according to a template that’s been carefully reviewed by your legal team. But if you’re a small business, a start-up, or simply on our own when it comes to drafting offers, keep these tips in mind. The right offer letter can make a new employee feel welcome and excited about the prospect of joining your team. The wrong letter can give the candidate second thoughts and push her in the direction of a competing employer. At worst, a poorly worded offer letter can actually get your company into legal trouble.

Offer Letter Tips: Avoid These Risky Moves

1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Check and double check to make sure your letter is free of implied but false commitments. For example, if the offer is contingent on the completion of a successful background check or drug test, make this very clear.

2. Don’t send the offer too soon. If the position hasn’t yet been cleared by upper management or the budget resources for the job have been promised but haven’t yet materialized, wait for a few days. Express your interest to the employee over the phone, but don’t put the offer in writing until you’re ready to follow through.

3. Don’t go into detail about why you chose the candidate. Simply state that her credentials match the needs of the position and you’re looking forward to bringing her on board.

4. Keep your company’s brand and reputation in mind. Present your offer formally, neatly, and professionally. Have the letter reviewed by in-house or external editors and make sure it presents your company well. Until she signs on the dotted line, the candidate isn’t yours, and there’s still a chance that a small misstep could drive her away.

5. If you intend to offer benefits like comprehensive health insurance or a 401K plan, mention this in the letter, so the candidate can factor this into her final decision. But again, don’t list or suggest any additional facts that haven’t been verified. Send detailed, legally reviewed benefit information in a separate package.

6. Don’t forget to accompany the letter with a phone call. In both the letter and the call, make the employee feel welcome and wanted, and give her clear instructions regarding the next steps.

Your offer letter represents your final chance to showcase your company and win over a talented candidate. So make the right moves! For additional guidance regarding offer letters and any other form of professional communication, contact the NC staffing and employment experts at PSU.


Use Personal Branding To Land Your Dream Job

October 19th, 2012

Small acts of branding can have a powerful impact on a potential consumer’s emotional reaction to a product. This is just as true when the marketer is a job seeker and the product she’s selling is herself.

As they hire, interview, and screen candidates, most potential employer decisions are conscious, and represent a logical response to available data. For example, does the candidate have a four year degree or not? Can she or can she not perform the duties of the position, from drafting department budgets to speaking fluent French? The culture surrounding the position is extroverted and highly competitive—will the candidate be able to adapt? Most of these questions come with black and white answers, and the candidate can and should control how she’s directly perceived. But subconscious decisions are also part of the process, and a savvy candidate can control the outcome on both levels—or at least try. Consider color, for example. As a job seeker, are you working a signature color into your branding strategy?

Color and Your Personal Brand

Every time your potential employer sees you in person, consider wearing an item of clothing or carrying a portfolio that displays one chosen color. This will be your signature color. You don’t need an entire outfit in this hue—just a scarf, tie, or shirt will do.  But be consistent. And choose carefully.

Green will suggest innovation, flexibility and ingenuity. Yellow will project a sunny and positive disposition. Blue will suggest that you’re focused and studious. And red is the color of passion, which can translate in a workplace setting into determination, aggression and personal dedication. It might seem smart to present all of these qualities to a potential employer, but if you want to be remembered, choose just one.

Now, as you scan postings for a new position with an employer you have yet to contact for the first time, make sure you consider your signature color before every single interaction you have with this employer. Every time a potential hiring manager encounters your brand, she should experience the impact of your chosen color.

Type the text of your resume, cover letter, and all of your emails in basic black only. But before you write, pause and think for a minute about your signature color, and let that color influence the tone of your message and the words you choose. Your thoughts about your color will have an impact on the consistency of your brand, your message, and the story you’re attempting to tell. Will you carefully gather all the facts before making a decision (blue)? Will you be a pleasure to work with every day (yellow)? Will you make any sacrifice for the company, no matter the cost (red)?

This all may sound like magic, and it is. But it’s also marketing. Put these principals to work for you and see what happens. Meanwhile, reach out to the NC job search experts at PSU for additional help and guidance.

Personal Development Coaching: A Potential Job Perk

October 12th, 2012

In your effort to attract talented candidates, you’re probably wording your postings carefully, reaching out to a select target audience, and gathering a list of appealing perks that can help you present yourself well and get a leg up on your competition. If you haven’t done so already, include every small benefit that your employees will be able to access, like free parking, transportation discounts, or on-site day care. Most important, include continuing education and training resources that employees can use to get ahead.

Great Employees Appreciate Personal Coaching

Let prospective employees understand the basic details of your mentoring program, if you have one
(and if you intend to attract ambitious, motivated team members, you should definitely have one.) A well-structured and well organized mentoring system suggests that you care about an employee’s future beyond the limits of a specific job.

Other forms of structured coaching can include non-job specific training programs in areas like leadership, communication, conflict resolution, and team building. If your HR team has the resources and experience to provide these programs in-house, consider offering optional or mandatory seminars. Otherwise, establish a contract with a professional training firm.

Continuing Education

Managers of small companies often assume that tuition matching programs lie outside the scope of their budgets. But before you dismiss the idea, conduct some careful research and consider the long term benefits. Educated staff members may be more productive, but just as important, the fact that you’re willing to offer the program suggests that you’re willing to invest in your employees futures, and this can help you gain the attention of highly motivated applicants. And your training and certification benefits, while expensive on the surface, can allow you to sidestep the salary premiums that already-certified candidates sometimes command.

Tuition matching is only one possible way to support continuing education. You may also be able to fund an employee’s entire degree program in exchange for a long term commitment of two, three, or five years.  Even small and inexpensive gestures can help you gain the respect of both current and potential hires. For example, consider allowing an employee to work flexible hours so he or she can attend classes during the day.

Arrange a consultation with the NC staffing experts at PSU for more detailed information on training and continuing education resources for promising employees.



When to Make an Offer to Get a Resigning Employee to Stay

October 5th, 2012

Your staffing strategy has never been better. Your last four hiring decisions have been brilliant, and your managers and employees appear to be thriving busily in an atmosphere of respect, trust, and shared dedication. When you walk through your workplace, you see cheerful workers in every direction, and your bottom line suggests that you’re clearly doing something right. But you haven’t done this on your own. You can easily count off a handful of people throughout the company who hold this entire operation together. Regardless of their management level, these invaluable employees are natural leaders and you know perfectly well that you wouldn’t be where you are without them.

Just as you’re patting yourself on the back for the efficiency and productivity of your staffing strategy, one of your very best employees walks into your office with a dreaded announcement. She’s about to leave.

Counter a Resignation: Simple Steps

First, don’t give up just yet. There’s a strong possibility that your next few moves can change her mind and keep her onboard. But be careful. There’s a fine line between a happy, productive employee and resentful, conflicted prisoner trapped in golden handcuffs. Ask a few tactful questions, then act accordingly.

First, find out why she’s leaving. And listen to her tone, not just her words. If her answer is abbreviated and dismissive, you’re odds of keeping her are slim. A strong personal component, like a family obligation, may also elicit a clipped and determined explanation. But if there’s any chance that she hasn’t fully made up her mind, her answer will be longer and more detailed, and may even sound open-ended, as if she’s not making a declaration but asking for advice.

If another local company is luring her away with a higher offer, ask her to give you twenty four hours to counter it. Then work with your accounting and HR departments to see what you can come up with. But you’ll be lucky if her decision is only about money. More likely, many factors will be involved, including her long term career goals and how they may conflict with the opportunities she’s finding here. She may also be unhappy with some aspect of this job in ways that she’s kept hidden or handled on her own until now.

If she’s dissatisfied for one simple reason, pounce on the problem, and do it today. If her relationship with her manager isn’t working out, for example, take decisive action to open communication channels and resolve the issue. If she has commuting difficulties or workplace access problems, don’t just wave goodbye. If you do, you may be letting a simple obstacle take away one of your most valuable company assets. Is she struggling with housing, childcare, or a health issue? Test the limits of your creative problem solving skills and find a way to restructure her benefits and perks to bring her back on board.

Just don’t make promises you can’t keep. In your rush to secure this employee, consider all long-term costs, and don’t set her—or yourself—up for a future of resentment and compromise. If worse comes to worse, just have faith in your staffing strategy and remember that whatever you did to find her, you can probably do again.
Before you put together a last minute deal to keep a valuable employee on your team, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU. We can help you limit potential mistakes as you move forward.

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