11 Things to Include in Your Job Offer Letters
As Denver Recruiters, we are often asked by employers if they are required to put together an offer letter, and what should be included in an offer letter.
Offer letters are not required. However, to avoid any possibility of miscommunication or misunderstanding, they are recommended. They are also a great opportunity to formally welcome your soon-to-be-employee to your organization, and to get another important touch point with them.
- Are they responsive to your offer letter?
- Do they have further questions that need to be addressed prior to acceptance, or prior to starting?
What to Include in an Offer Letter
Key elements of a job offer letter include:
- A welcoming opening statement, such as, “We are pleased to offer you the position of [job title].”
- Start date. Indicate a confirmed start date, estimated/anticipated start date, no later than date, or start date to-be-determined.
- Work location. It is wise to note if it is a fully in-office, hybrid (and to what extent), or fully remote role. If this is subject to change in the future, be sure to state that. For remote positions, indicate how first day reporting will work (i.e., time, date, and means of the startup meeting and orientation).
- Scheduled work hours, if applicable. If this is subject to change in the future, be sure to state that.
- Name and title of who the position reports to (as well as any indirect reporting).
- Exempt or nonexempt status, mention of at-will status (Colorado is an employment-at-will state), and a statement that this offer letter is not a contract of employment. It is recommended to include a sentence explaining what “at will employment” means, as many candidates do not know. For example: “As per Colorado law, employment with our organization is at will. That means that both the employer and the employee have the right to terminate the employment at any time and for any reason.”
- Pay amount and pay periods. For example, $#,###.## per semi-monthly pay period, based on an annual salary of $##,###.##. Information about bonus, commissions, and stock options, should be included only if they are guaranteed or a significant part of the compensation.
- Benefits information in brief, and provide an attachment that outlines the benefits. If a previously planned unpaid absence was pre-approved, include that in the offer letter.
- Any contingencies, such as passing a background check or drug screen, as well as eligibility to work in the U.S.
- A sign-off, indicating acceptance of the offer with a deadline for return.
- A closing statement welcoming the new employee, acknowledging their value to the organization, and providing information on who to contact with questions and how to reach them.
Other Offer Letter Pointers, Including What NOT to Say
In general, it is best to keep an offer letter brief – ideally 1-2 pages. Additional attachments, such as detailed benefits information and a position description can accompany the offer letter but should not be a part of the letter.
Things to avoid in offer letters include:
- Language that implies permanent employment, including avoiding phrases such as “we hope you will be a long-standing member of our family”.
- Stay away from putting company policies and requirements into the job offer letter that are covered in your employee handbook.
- Avoid any noncompete or nonsolicitation provisions in the job offer letter. As recommended by Damiya Park, an attorney with Baker McKenzie in Chicago, “Include these types of provisions, or confidentiality, intellectual assignment or even arbitration provisions in a separate agreement, and make it a condition of the offer that the separate agreement is executive prior to the start date.”
SHRM’s HR Week, 6/11/2023. “Job Offer Letters: What to Include and Exclude”, by Allen Smith, J.D., June 2, 2023.
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