Job Offer Letters: Six Things to Avoid!

When you’ve chosen your top candidate, it’s time to make a job offer.  In some states, the job offer letter is more than just a notification that an offer is on the table and a summary of its terms.  If the offer letter contains illegal, voidable, or just mistaken terms, it may become the focal point of a sticky contract dispute.

When creating a job offer letter, include basic information, like the title of the position, the start date, its exempt or non-exempt status, and whether it is full or part-time.  Also, include the salary and how it will be paid and a brief description of the job, including primary tasks.  You may also wish to note that these tasks may change over time.

Things to avoid when writing a job offer letter include:

  • Making the letter the only announcement of the job offer.  Always call or speak to the candidate in person before sending the job offer letter.  Contact from the company in person makes the job offer seem more personal and enthusiastic.  It also helps ensure that the candidate doesn’t accept a job offer from another employer while the letter is inching its way through the mail.
  • Using phrases that imply job security or indefinite future employment.  These include not only overt promises of job security, but also statements like “we’re a family company,” “in the future,” or even the words “job security.”  When in doubt, include an at-will clause that conforms with your state’s requirements.
  • Forgetting relevant information.  The job offer letter should clearly state the relevant basics of the offer, like the start date, salary requirements, the location, and whether the job is on a direct-hire or contract/temporary basis.  Whether it is full or part time should also be included.  Leaving out a key term opens the door to confusion and dispute.
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  • Leaving out conditions of hire.  Your company may require employees to complete an I-9, pass a drug test, or complete other conditions in order to be employed.  The letter should include a mention of these conditions.  If you have to revoke the offer later because a condition is not met, failing to mention the conditions could make it difficult or impossible to do so.
  • Failing to clarify when the conditions of hire take effect.  Companies are allowed to make certain tasks, like passing a drug test, a condition of hiring a person.  However, they may not be allowed by law to require the drug test before the job offer is made.  If you list conditions of hire in the job letter, take care to specify when they attach.
  • Asking for improper personal information.  Just as you cannot ask candidates about their age, religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, or disability status during an interview, you cannot make these elements part of a job offer, either.  Refrain from comments related to any of these personal characteristics.

At TERRA Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you find the temporary, contract, or direct-hire talent you need, and help you extend an offer once you have found the perfect employee. Contact us today to learn more!