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After a long recruitment process, the job offer letter might feel like a simple formality. But these letters have some important elements that you need to get right. When you are this close to securing your new employee, now is not the time to drop the ball.

Bag some brownie points during this crucial phase with our tips below. 

What is a job offer letter?

The job offer letter is a formal offer of employment from your business. It lays out the basic duties and responsibilities of the candidate and of your business - and allows your chosen candidate to accept the position offered. Nothing is set in stone until the letter is signed by your candidate and returned to you. (Then you can crack open the bubbly.)

When should you send it?

This is something a lot of businesses struggle with. Once you have made a final decision on the person you would like to add to your payroll, you should contact them as soon as possible. (Other employers may be glad-eyeing your dream candidate.) 

But - and it's a big but - no candidate should ever find out they are being offered a job by letter. Rather, this letter should follow up a verbal agreement you have made in person or over the phone. Once you have offered the position to your candidate verbally and negotiated things like start date and salary, you should pop the offer of employment letter in the post - as soon as you can.

One more thing to remember? As soon as you have written confirmation that your candidate will accept the position, let the other applicants know that the position has been filled as soon as you can. Jobseekers hate being left waiting. Being courteous is classy and will help your business stand out.

What should the job offer letter include?

No two job offer letters are the same. But there are common elements that all letters of employment share. When writing your letter it should briefly state the job title, salary details, starting date, length of probation and any special conditions of employment. Clarity is the key word here. Don't leave any room for confusion that may cause disputes further down the line.

Does it replace a contract of employment?

While a signed letter does give both the candidate and your business a level of legal protection, that doesn't mean it should replace a contract of employment. It can, in some instances. But we'd always advocate drawing up a separate contract that clearly lays out the complete terms of your working relationship.

Think about it. Including every last contractual detail in a job offer letter is likely to be kind of overwhelming for your candidate. If you agree with us and just want to confirm the basics of your arrangement, it's best to include a line that makes it clear that the letter is not intended as a contract.

Don't be afraid of showing your personality

Dull, dull, dull.

That's how most business documents come across. Don't be afraid of showing your personality - especially if you are a small team that doesn't hire often. Most businesses write stiff and prosaic letters. But an offer of employment is a one-time only opportunity to make a great impression with your new recruit. It only takes a light sprinkling of genuine verve and personality to distance yourself from those businesses who sound about as exciting as the hum of a fridge.