Best Practices for Making a Job Offer
The search is over. You’ve perused reams of resumes, weeded through applicants, conducted countless interviews, and you’ve finally found the candidate that possesses the right blend of skill and cultural fit that is perfect for your company.
So what’s next?
The job offer
Once you have agreed internally to move forward, call the candidate to notify them of the offer. Begin by giving them the good news. Discuss the details of the job offer and ask for feedback.
Avoid overstating wages, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment to attract the candidate. Do not make any promises of future employment.
If the candidate is satisfied with the details, ask for verbal acceptance and let them know a formal offer of employment will be sent shortly.
The offer letter
Following up a verbal offer with a written one not only sets expectations for the new employee, it also clarifies any matters that were discussed during the interview phase. Consider the offer letter a formal invitation for the candidate to become an employee at your company. Although not required by law in the U.S., providing a letter that outlines the job offer is best practice.
The offer letter should include:
- pay rate and pay schedule
- job title
- name of supervisor and department
- full-time/part-time and exempt or non-exempt classification
- benefits offered
- start date
- whether the offer is contingent upon background/drug screening results
- any other terms and conditions of employment, and
- a date by which the applicant must respond to the offer
In the state of New Jersey, employers must notify new hires of their rate of pay and regular payday. By always providing an offer letter, you can be sure this requirement is met.
To avoid creating a contractual agreement with your offer letter, add a statement that the employment is at-will. Employment at-will is a doctrine that means the employment relationship may be terminated by the employer or employee at any time and for any or no reason.
Avoid language that classifies the candidate as a “permanent” employee or guarantees length of employment (unless the job is a temporary or fixed-period project). Lisa Salcido, Director of Balance Point Human Resources (BPHR) offers this advice, “Although your letter should contain the right combination of optimism and information, be careful of phrases that can be misinterpreted like, ‘looking forward to a long-term commitment’ or ‘we’re excited to build a lasting business relationship.’”
Salcido also warns about offering an “annual” or “yearly” salary amount, “This has been disputed in court as a guarantee of employment for at least one year. Meaning you’d be obligated to pay the full 12-month amount and would limit the employer’s right to terminate at-will.” “Instead,” Salcido advises, “use ‘this exempt position offers a pay rate of $2,000.00, paid semi-monthly on the 15th and last day of the month, less applicable taxes and deductions.’ You can always add that it’s ‘…equivalent to $48,000.00 on an annual basis.’”
Finally, the letter should include a line for signature and date for the candidate to indicate his/her acceptance and understanding of the terms. It also a good idea to add a sentence stating that the offer letter is for informational purposes only and is not a binding contract.
Utilizing best practices when making a job offer will ensure the process is efficient and free of legal liabilities. It also ensures that your new hire starts off on the right foot and is on their way to making a positive contribution to your organization.
If your organization could use guidance with making job offers, or any tasks related to recruiting and hiring qualified talent, check out Balance Point’s HR consulting service, BPHR.
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