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.

Are Phone Interviews the Best Option For Narrowing Down Candidates?

September 14th, 2012

A meticulous candidate search can reduce hiring risk and yield great rewards, especially over the long term. But no staffing strategy is 100 percent perfect, and while screening with a fine tooth comb can produce excellent employees, it can also require considerable time and financial investment. You can cull a stack of resumes down to the top twenty candidates, and then call each of the twenty in for a full interview, which may require transportation costs and necessitate pulling interviewers off the floor for hours at a time. Or, you can make use of an inexpensive tool that’s already in place: the phone.

Phone Interviews: Making the Most of a Simple and Powerful Communication Tool

Phone screenings require little more than about fifteen minutes per candidate, and can be conducted with no transportation or overhead costs. Dozens or hundreds of candidates can be screened in an hour (depending on how many screeners are involved), and the process can be standardized and streamlined for efficiency and fairness. Just make sure each call follows the same format, and that phone interview questions are tightly focused on the needs of the position.

Have your screeners listen for clear red flags and yes or no answers to simple questions, such as the following:

1. Do you have a BS degree in computer science or a related field?
2. Are you interested in a job that will require you to travel at least 50 percent of the time?
3. Are you willing to be on call at night and during the weekends?
4. Have you ever managed a staff of at least five people?

Potential Pitfalls of the Phone Interview

Be aware that a phone screening and a true interview are separate endeavors with separate goals. While a real interview allows a hiring manger to assess a candidate’s personality, character, deep background, and cultural aptitude, a phone call offers a very limited window into these areas. The phone screening should not be used for final round hiring or real skill assessment. Among its limits, the phone can reveal false signs of promise and can also allow great candidates to slip away.

Instead, use the phone simply to refine a huge population of candidates into a narrow and manageable pool. Filter out those who are not interested in the challenges of the job, hold less than the minimum qualifications, or have no plans to accept the position if it’s offered. Keep things simple and don’t allow your phone screeners to make assumptions or overreach.

If you need specific guidance while developing your phone screening questions and protocols, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU. Put our experience to the test and make sure you get the most out of your screening and interview strategies.


Hiring To Fill a Position, or Looking For High-Potential Candidates?

September 7th, 2012

When candidates apply for an open position, there are some things about the outcome that they can easily understand and predict. If they have experience in the industry, they’ve read the posting carefully, and they’ve done some research on the company, then they have some idea of what they’re stepping into. But no matter how qualified they may be, applicants aren’t mind readers. And some truly excellent candidates apply for positions that aren’t likely to make the best use of their talents and skills.

What should you do when you encounter a highly qualified candidate for a mismatched, unavailable, or already staffed position?

Taking On High-Potential Candidates

A growing number of recruiters and hiring managers are adopting a strategy known as high-potential hiring. With a high-potential staffing plan in place, excellent candidates are recognized in the pool and contacted, whether they meet the needs of a specific position or not. After further screening and a broader review of open positions within the company, these candidates are 1.) placed in a unit, division or department other than the one for which they applied, 2.) hired for positions that are then adapted to make use of the candidates unique skills, 3.) hired for positions which are created on the spot and tailored to the candidate’s talents.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this kind of staffing model.

High-Potential Hiring: Advantages

Right at this moment, a slow economy has flooded the job market with a glut of available candidates, and hiring balances are tipped in favor of employers. But many experts predict a rapid reversal in the near future as the economy recovers and a wave of baby boomers reach retirement age. When this happens, hiring managers may regret their recent cavalier dismissal of highly educated, highly motived performers simply because their skills didn’t match the needs of the moment.

In addition, in this fast-moving, technology-driven age, demand for specific skills can rise and fall quickly. A candidate who spends a year honing his knowledge of certain software program may find that program hopelessly out of date within a few months. But while specific competencies may fluctuate in value, a strong work ethic, polished social skills, and gritty resilience are always in style.

High Potential Hiring: Warnings

While high potential hiring can keep top candidates on your team and out of the hands of your competition, don’t ignore the expensive realities that come with an overstaffed office. If you adopt this model, do so strategically and maintain a calculated focus on the long term. Don’t take on candidates recklessly, and don’t put yourself in the position of having to dismiss or downsize new recruits simply because of your own poor planning.

Are you searching for ways to tighten, refine, and redesign your staffing and hiring strategies? The NC employment experts at Personnel Services Unlimited can help. Contact our office and arrange a consultation today.


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