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How NOT to Write a Job Offer Letter

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.