Recruiters and hiring managers love to complain about the dull cover letters they receive from job candidates. But be honest: do you employ the same level of charm, empathy, and enthusiasm to the offer letters you send?
Do you treat offer letters as branding documents or contracts? As an important gesture or a mere formality?
Offer letters are the most underrated of all company communications—not just within recruitment processes, but overall.
They don’t have to be. Think about it: an offer letter is the professional equivalent of a marriage proposal. It signifies a desire to begin a relationship that will hopefully benefit both parties and last a lifetime.
And while getting to the offer stage means that the other party is likely to say yes, nothing is guaranteed.
Why, then, do companies treat offer letters as an afterthought? Why are they willing to invest in copywriters and augmented writing software to craft the perfect job description, but allow hiring managers or HR personnel to use boilerplate offer letters that are dull and uninspiring?
Why companies underestimate offer letters
People involved in the hiring process regard offer letters as smaller and less important than they really are for two reasons:
- They are company-focused.
- They think a “yes” is a given.
Being company-focused means they are so acutely aware of the company’s needs and so concerned with meeting legal requirements that they lose sight of what the offer letter is about and who it is for. As civil engineering recruiter Juli Smith summed it up, “they’re more geared toward covering the company’s rear end than actually making an exciting, enticing, and attractive offer.”
Thinking “yes” is a given means they don’t realize that, at the offer stage, they are still at risk of losing the candidate to a competitor. They don’t consider the possibility that the candidate might have received other offers and is trying to decide which one to accept. Confident that they’ve made the hire, they make the same mistake people make in interpersonal relationships: they take others for granted.
How to write an offer letter
We can all write better offer letters. Here’s what to keep in mind when writing yours.
Making it special
The best types of offer letters are so branded that other companies would have a hard time replicating them—see Spotify’s offer letter in the form of a playlist.
Here are some things great offer letters have in common:
- They ditch the corporate jargon.
- They express excitement.
- They cast a vision.
- They place the candidate within that vision.
- They make the candidate feel wanted.
The stuff you need to include
Depending on the type of company and the kind of employment you are offering, you may be required to include certain information in your offer letter. For example:
- The position being offered.
- The employment start date and whether the job is limited in duration.
- End date, if there is one.
- Status of the position, such as full-time, temporary, part-time etc.
- Pay rate, which could be hourly, monthly, or annually.
- Additional compensation components, such as bonuses, commission, short-term and long-term investments, grants, loans, etc.
- Benefits such as medical, dental, and vision insurance, 401K, time off, vacations, sick and holiday time. If no benefits are provided, that should also be stated.
- Condition of employment, such as the signing of an NDA agreement or providing evidence of eligibility.
- Conditional to meeting requirements such as a background check or a drug test.
Ask Human Resources or Legal to read over your offer letter to make sure it complies with the requirements in your city, state, and country.
The stuff you need to leave out
- A request for the candidate to sign and return. According to her, this “can create an offer-acceptance situation, turning the offer letter into an enforceable contract.”
- Implied length of employment. For example, if you’re hiring someone at $25/hour, don’t write that the pay is $50,000 annually, as that implies that the term of employment is at least a year.
- Promises or guarantees of benefits or bonuses that are discretionary or subject to change. Later, the candidate could say that they accepted your offer based on those specific benefits.
The power of offer letters
Seeing your offer letters as an opportunity to delight and incorporating them into your employer branding strategy can turn candidates that may be on the fence into absolute yeses.
That being said, doing so doesn’t have to put more work onto your plate: with TextExpander, you can create an amazing and memorable offer letter that you can quickly personalize and send to candidates with just a few keystrokes.
Check out these tips on how to personalize snippets in our blog: How to Personalize Your Snippets with Fill-ins.
What are you doing differently to entice candidates to say “yes” to your offer?