Presenting an Offer Letter. Step by Step.

Crawford Thomas Recruiting Blog

Sealing the Deal. dives into the Offer Letter Stage of the Hiring Process.

In today’s tight labor market, you can’t assume that people will just accept a job offer simply because they receive one.

The art of the offer is a dance. There are steps that each partner must make. As the lead, it’s up to you to set the pace and keep the rhythm. You don’t want to step on your partner’s toes, and you know there are lots of others waiting in the wings for their chance to step in and take your partner away. Clearly, you’re going to need to make all the right moves.

The verbal offer

Step one is the verbal offer. Do this over the phone if possible. Generally speaking, the printed word isn’t as good at conveying those revealing unspoken clues and nuances we express when speaking. These subtle signs can convey a lot about the candidate’s interest in your offer, and if you don’t make the offer via an actual conversation, you could miss them.

Let them know straight away that you’re extending an official offer of employment to them. Be sure to provide such important details as the job title, start date, compensation, bonus structure, pay frequency, plus any legal constraints (like noncompete clauses) and the date by which the offer should be accepted or declined.

If possible, make a link between whatever professional goals the candidate told you about in the interview and the offer. For example, if they told you that career growth is important, be sure to highlight training opportunities that are available to your employees.

After you’ve provided all this information, it’s okay to ask if they can verbally accept your offer now. That said, it’s important to be sensitive to the candidate’s current situation, especially if they are employed. Switching jobs can be stressful. The candidate may be looking elsewhere for reasons that have nothing to do with how happy they are at their current job.

The written offer

If you were able to get verbal acceptance over the phone from the candidate, it’s time to move on to the written offer.

This should include all the information you gave them in the verbal offer, as well as their start date, their future manager’s name and the contact info for someone who can answer any questions they might have before they start. You should also prepare them for things that might affect their start date, like a background check or the completion of work with their current employer.

Get the written offer in their hands as soon as possible with a physical letter or a PDF in an email. To keep the momentum going, it’s a good idea to give them a tight deadline of a few business days to respond with their written acceptance. After you’ve sent it, follow up via phone or email to make sure they received it.

If they accept the offer, be sure to continue to follow up once a week between now and the start date. The longer that space of time is, the greater the risk that the candidate might back out.

Never assume you’ve got it in the bag! The offer isn’t really accepted until they’re in the office on day one, getting to know the rest of the team.

After the start date

After the start date has passed and the candidate has become an employee, your work still isn’t done.

Onboarding is an art, and the thinking on the right way to do it has evolved in some very interesting ways recently. So don’t neglect it!

Help your new hire acclimate to the new environment by introducing them to their coworkers at a team lunch. Get them into a mentorship program so they can get ramped up. Stay engaged with them for the first month or so to make sure their expectations of the role match the reality so you can identify and address any issues early.

But what about the candidates who aren’t receiving an offer? It may seem like a small or insignificant thing, but how you let them know can impact your business’s reputation, and in today’s hyperconnected, share-everything world, that is no small matter.

by Aaron Schwartz

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Crawford Thomas RecruitingPresenting an Offer Letter. Step by Step.