In a competitive market for talent, with a job market turned upside down by COVID-19, the offer letter could be the edge you need to secure a star player remotely.
It should be a moment of sheer joy on both sides. It’s also a key company communication, with consequences that could be business-critical. But offering someone a job in writing doesn’t always come across that way. Regulatory and compliance burdens, as well as time pressure, mean that offer letters often look more like an ass-covering exercise where the employer just wants to fulfil some legal obligations, cram the envelope with stuff, stick it in the post and forget it ever happened.
Overloading people with information, while skimping on personal warmth, sets a bad tone for your new relationship. Here's everything you need to know, together with our top tips for writing the perfect offer letter. Use the menu below to navigate this resource. If you're ready to get started, just grab the free template below.
Free employment offer letter template
If you're looking to get started with offer letters for your business, check out this free template below, or visit Juro to find out how you could automate the process.
Sign up for a free Juro account to create your own offer letter.
What is an employment offer letter? 🤔
Depending on the jurisdiction, an employment letter is sometimes known as an: employment contract, offer letter, employment verification letter, or a proof of employment document - but they all exist for the same reason. If you’re an employer, the employment letter is used to formalize the hire. The employment letter usually confirms the job details for the candidate, with information on salary, working hours, employment terms and conditions, and more.
It might be followed by a separate, details employment contract; or it might form the legal basis of your employment on its own. It might also contain details and additional documents relating to benefits, share options, and other key considerations.
Who uses employment offer letters? 📄
The people who use employment letters often fall under three categories.
People and talent teams, or HR. These functions are responsible for business growth through employee headcount. They usually act as the candidate’s main point of contact throughout the hiring process
The hiring manager. This depends on the role, but often the hiring manager will want to weigh in on the potential candidates joining their team. A head of sales, for example, may want to input on the candidates applying for a sales rep role. The hiring manager is also responsible for the offer letter itself, adding in key details about the role
The candidate. The most important stakeholder in the hiring process, the candidate is the most affected by the employment letter
"Securing a new hire should be an exciting moment for both the candidate and the employer - so make sure this excitement is reflected in your employment letter"
What contents are in an employment offer letter? 👀
There are several features that are common to most employment letters. These include:
A note confirming the offer, congratulating the candidate, and welcoming them into the new role
Offer details, including salary, position, start date, details of the line manager, and so on
Various T&Cs covering data privacy, working time regulations, probation, etc.
Share options for new joiners - this is more common in startups and scaleups, as an incentive to their employees
Most employer letters are also branded with the business’ logo. This allows the employer to establish their brand and offer consistency throughout the business.
How to write an employment offer letter ✍️
Securing a new hire should be an exciting moment for both the candidate and the employer - so make sure this excitement is reflected in your employment letter. Here’s how you can write a good employment letter that candidates want to sign.
1. Use readable, friendly language… 💬
Legalese and impenetrable jargon don’t reflect your company culture – so don’t start your employee/employer relationship by using them. You only get one chance to make a first impression in writing so keep it accessible, clear, concise, to the point, and above all, friendly. You’re asking this person to be in a long-term relationship with you, after all.
This is a chapter from the Remote onboarding guide, featuring insights from people and talent experts on the various stages of remote onboarding. Download for free.
2. …but nail the key details 🎯
That said, you must convey all the crucial information they need to make a decision. Keep this front and centre, so there’s no ambiguity. Cover practical details like start dates, what to expect on arrival, who to report to on day one, the name of their line manager, when their first payday will be, the length of any probation period, and so on.
Let them get excited about the role by giving them a sneak peek into what onboarding will look like, with some details about their first week. Think hard about the acceptance date – make sure you give them enough time to properly consider the offer, whilst also establishing a timeframe that lets your business move forward. If their onboarding will be remote, it’s worth sharing a few details about that too.
“With the exception of the odd hypergrowth company hiring fifty people at a time, there’s really no reason to make your offer letters 100 per cent standardised”
3. The personal touch ✨
Every candidate is different. The one you chose obviously had something none of the others did – otherwise you wouldn’t be offering them the role. So make your offer to them personal too.
If you had them present a strategy in the final round interview, and their creativity blew you away, then refer to it. If the interview panelists had specific positive feedback, share it. If you want them to accept the offer then make sure you let them know that they aren’t just one more headcount receiving a mass-produced template. With the exception of the odd hypergrowth company hiring fifty people at a time, there’s really no reason to make your offer letters 100 per cent standardised. Make it personal.
4. Information design is your friend 🎨
An employment offer letter is just the tip of an iceberg of information that candidates need to make an informed choice about the role, and to know what to expect if they accept. But cramming in detailed information about (for example) options schemes, pension schemes, data security policies, and so on, is only going to lead to information overload and a slower decision-making process.
Use layering or linking to external documents to give them access to the information they need, without compromising the readability and accessibility of the offer you’re making to them. Check out Monzo’s terms and conditions or Juro’s privacy notice for an example of how this might look.
5. Brand your offer letter 💅
Any other key company document, like a sales brochure, a fundraising deck or a customer email, would be branded consistently. This should be no different – make sure your marketing and design colleagues have signed off on the visual direction, and that your offer letters reflect the most up-to-date public identity of your company.
At Juro, our contract collaboration platform helps companies send out beautiful documents, so it’s the only choice for our offer letters – plus we can show off our mobile-responsive e-signing to new joiners. It also gives candidates a valuable head start when it comes to becoming product experts.
6. Delight them 😃
The incorporation of delight factors is a hallmark of so many recent successful businesses – companies like Slack, Monzo and Stripe know when to incorporate emojis, illustrations, playful language and personalisation better than anyone. Adding little touches – like having the CEO hand-sign it and write a personal intro – to make an offer letter a great experience could raise your candidate’s experience by a few percent and make an attractive offer ultimately irresistible.
Startups face a tough time competing for talent – one little touch could be the difference between landing a great hire and missing out.
7. Brevity – always 🙌
The tightrope you need to walk is incorporating all these elements, without compromising one of the most fundamental must-haves: brevity. There’s no doubt that a shorter document increases the likelihood of securing a signature. Improving your time-to-hire metric by optimising for length could be the edge your company needs in a competitive hiring market. Give people the key information up front and they’ll get to signing faster.
“With an automated workflow, a feasible end-to-end time for generating, issuing and securing signature on an Offer Letter is less than one hour”
8. Automate your offer letters 📈
If you really want to light a fire under your time-to-hire metrics, an automated process is a must-have. With an automated workflow, a feasible end-to-end time for generating, issuing and securing signature on an offer letter is less than one hour. Juro customers typically report saving upwards of 75 per cent of time on admin and paperwork with regard to Offer Letters.
Make sure you find a solution that can deliver dynamic, branded, mobile-responsive digital documents that can give your candidates the experience they deserve. By automating your Offer Letters you can remove a sizeable burden from your workload and focus on what really matters - finding, hiring and onboarding great candidates.
Find out more about delivering the experience your team deserves - from offer letters to onboarding and beyond - in our remote onboarding guide.