Avoiding Common Job Offer Letter Mistakes

The hard work is done. You’ve reviewed all the resumes, interviewed the applicants who sounded promising, and contacted their references. You’ve identified the best fit for your company and you’re ready to make the hire. Recruiters generally prefer to make the actual job offer in person or over the phone. However, you should always follow up with a formal written offer letter outlining the terms of employment, such as starting date, responsibilities, working hours, salary, benefits, and when and how the employee will be paid. 

It’s crucial to write a job offer letter with the utmost care, as they are legally binding documents. You must avoid making any unintended promises or you could find yourself locked into an “implied contract” with your new employee. When drafting your next job offer letter, follow these simple tips to avoid any unforeseen complications: 

  • Don’t put anything into writing until you’ve conducted a thorough background check. It’s definitely not in your company’s best interest to discover you’ve hired an ex-felon after they are already on the payroll.
  • Emphasize that the employee is being hired at will and the relationship can be terminated at any time should a legitimate reason arise. 
  • Avoid any statements that could be construed as implying some sort of job security.  It is safe to include such information as starting date, but don’t make any statements with regard to length of employment. While it’s desirable to foster a positive relationship with a new employee, avoid suggesting they can look forward to a long future with the company.
  •  Make any references to pay in terms of individual pay periods. For example, “You will be paid $3,000 every two weeks.” It may seem easier to simply state the employee’s annual wage, but doing so could be construed as a commitment to keeping that individual for one full year.
  • Ask your human resources and legal counsel to review the letter prior to sending it. They just may uncover something that could have spelled trouble for the company – and for you.  

Job offer letters are a crucial element of the recruiting process. In most instances, they help the employer avoid conflict or legal implications by spelling out the terms of employment before the new hire even sets foot on the job. While they can be problematic, you should in no way avoid sending them. Just take your time and draft your letters according to these tips and your letters will be problem-free.

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