You may be eager to get the ball rolling when you’ve chosen your top candidate and may want to send out hiring paperwork ASAP. But it’s important to create a job offer letter thoughtfully, because there are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
If the letter contains illegal, voidable, or just mistaken terms, for example, it may become the focal point of a sticky contract dispute. And in some states, an offer letter is more than just communicating that a job offer is on the table and a summary of its terms.
So if you’ve produced an offer letter and want to spot-check your document, we can help.
Here are 4 things to avoid when creating a job offer letter:
Making the letter the first announcement of the job offer.
Always call or speak to the candidate in person before sending the job offer letter. It can help safeguard the candidate from accepting a job offer elsewhere.
And from the candidate’s perspective, contact from the employer in person or over a call makes the job offer seem more personal and exciting.
Forgetting relevant information.
Clearly state the relevant basics of the offer: the title of the position, start date, its exempt or nonexempt status, if the job is full-time or part-time, the salary and how it will be paid, and a brief description of the job.
You will also want to specify to whom the employee would be reporting to, benefits and PTO eligibility. Leaving out any key terms can open the door to confusion and dispute.
Leaving out conditions of hire.
Include any stipulations in the job offer letter that your company may require in order to be employed, such as completing an I-9.
If you’re in a situation where you have to revoke the offer later because the candidate has not met a condition, leaving out those requirements could make that process difficult—or, worst case scenario, impossible.
Employers are allowed to have hiring prerequisites, like passing a background check, for example. However, requiring a background check before making a job offer may not be legal. If your company has conditions of hire, specify the date those conditions will apply.
Your business can also avoid using ambiguous phrases or terms, such as anything suggesting job security. When in doubt, include an at-will clause that conforms with your state’s requirements.
Now that you know what not to do when creating a job offer letter, you can focus on the exciting part: welcoming a new member to your team!
And if you’re looking for a staffing partner who can navigate HR compliance, we’re here to help. Contact TERRA Staffing Group today to start a conversation.
(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.)