When writing an offer letter, your intention is to let a candidate know you would like them to work for your company. However, the candidate may interpret the letter as meaning a guaranteed contract or something else you did not intend it to. For this reason, you need to take extreme care and avoid common mistakes when crafting an offer letter.
Mistake #1: Asking the Candidate to Sign and Return the Letter
If you ask a candidate to sign and return an offer letter, they may misinterpret the letter and try to enforce it as an employment agreement. To avoid this issue, use language stating that signing and returning the letter serves as an acknowledgement and agreement to its terms, but the letter is not a binding contract. Let the candidate know a formal employment agreement will be provided at a later date.
Mistake #2: Using Vague Terms
An offer letter may contain vague terms about salary, benefits or other issues the candidate may misinterpret and hold you legally accountable for carrying out. When describing salary, benefits or other issues, use language that is clear and unambiguous. For example, state the compensation on a weekly basis rather than as a yearly or annual salary, so the candidate does not interpret those terms as an employment commitment for an entire year.
Mistake #3: Not Stating Contingencies
You may require the candidate to undergo a satisfactory background check, pass a drug screen or fulfill other conditions before officially being offered a position. If that’s the case, say so up front to avoid any miscommunication.
Mistake #4: Unclearly Outlining the Details
Clearly outline the employment details in your letter. Ensure you follow all labor laws and give a competitive offer. Mention what specific steps the candidate must take before officially becoming an employee. Include a start date, job title, work hours, full- or part-time status, pay rate and frequency, benefits, supervisor’s name and a short list of main duties. State that employment is at will and can be terminated at any time for a legitimate reason. Include the name of the employee to contact with questions. Mention what date you would prefer an answer by and what personal information and signed paperwork the candidate will need to send.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to Request Oversight on the Letter
Ensure HR or your legal team look over the offer letter before sending it. They may notice something ambiguous that can be interpreted to mean something other than what was intended, potentially costing your company a substantial amount in salaries, benefits, legal fees or other issues.
Avoid these common mistakes by letting us handle your recruiting needs. Contact MFA Talent Management today.