You’ve come this far. You’ve invested time and effort in identifying the right person for the job. Now you’re at this stage, it’s time to secure an acceptance with an appropriately worded offer letter that projects the right impression to the candidate you want.
Avoid standard letters
Most firms have standard offer letters that are inserted with name, job title, start date and salary. However, these can be easily identified by candidates. In the wake of a series of warm, friendly, face-to-face meetings, they run the risk of coming across as lazy, impersonal and off-putting – particularly if signed by the person who actually conducted the final interview.
You don’t offer jobs every day. Why not take time to write something original? At least amend your firm’s standard letter so that the candidate, whose offer may have been conveyed verbally and with enthusiasm by your recruitment consultant, continues to feel wanted. If the candidate has any lingering doubts or issues, an impersonal offer letter can tip him in the wrong direction. Write something positive instead and the chances are higher that an acceptance will be forthcoming.
Once you’ve decided to make the offer, and especially if you’ve already asked your recruitment consultant to tell the candidate, it’s best to write and dispatch the offer letter that night if possible. If the candidate is still out on interviews at other jobs, a confirmed offer on the table can convince him to cancel these. Contrary to some perceptions, jobseekers tend not to calculatingly stack up offers and use them to drive up their salaries. For most people, going on interviews is time-consuming and stressful. A positive job offer extended swiftly can make the world of difference. Candidates we meet will often instruct us to cancel any outstanding applications on receipt of an excellent offer letter.
When extending a job offer, certain formalities need to be respected – but that doesn’t mean you need to use stiff, overly formal language. For a start, ‘Dear John’ or ‘Dear Cindy’ is much friendlier than ‘Mr. Smith’ or ‘Ms Peroni’ – and sets the right tone.
Sell the offer
Emphasize the most appealing benefits in the package you’re offering. Conditional benefits (for instance, study support provided exams are passed) should ideally be kept in a separate document of terms and conditions or, if not, then ‘sandwiched’ between other benefits. The letter needs to ‘sell’ the offer to the candidate, which means small print and ‘legalese’ can unnecessarily get in the way.
Express your pleasure that the candidate has succeeded in gaining a position with your firm. However, don’t assume acceptance. Certainly ask for it – but remember the candidate has a choice. You may want to refer to specific skills or experience the candidate has that would make a contribution to your business, or reiterate any particular projects you discussed at the interview that you know the candidate was interested in.
In order that the candidate doesn’t feel pressured, always ask him (or her) to call you personally if there are any queries about the offer or any other aspect of the job. Your recruitment consultant will be in touch with the candidate anyway, and alert you to anything that needs addressing – but it adds another personal angle to the letter by making yourself available for queries too.
A personal touch
A nice touch – and one which candidates regularly tell us is a real winner – is to invite the successful candidate back into your offices during his notice period, to meet the team and go for drinks or lunch with future colleagues. However confident people are, changing jobs can be unnerving. It’s much better to look forward to your first day knowing you’ve already met the people you’ll see when you walk in. It’s also easy to forget that working a notice period can be a lonely time – and one in which successful candidates can be vulnerable to counter-offers, or open to considering other jobs they see advertised. The more you can do to keep your firm’s name at the forefront of the candidate’s thoughts, the better. And by making such an invitation in your offer letter, it’s a method of ‘closing’ that really makes an impact.
If this isn’t feasible, end by pointing out what action you want the candidate to take in order to accept.
I’m writing to confirm our offer to you, of the position of Project Manager, on a salary of $93,000, ideally starting Monday 23 October. I’ve enclosed our terms and conditions, which set out the finer details of the offer, together with information on our flexible benefits plan.
I hope you’ll decide to join us. As I mentioned when we met, the department is busier than ever. Opportunities to flourish – in the short and long term – are excellent and your role will be pivotal to our success. We attach great importance to the professional development of all of our people here and I would like to think that you’d remain with us as we grow, to take advantage of these opportunities.
If you have any questions about our offer, feel free to call me personally on 0XXX XXXXXX. Should you choose to accept, I’d like to invite you to drinks with the departmental team so that there will be some familiar faces for you when you start.
We all feel strongly that you will be able to make a significant contribution to the team and look forward to working with you. If you wish to accept our offer, please sign where indicated and return a copy to me in the envelope provided. I’ll then contact you to confirm receipt and arrange a date to meet the team over the next two weeks.