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The Dos and Don'ts of Job Offer Letters

May 14, 2014

Written by Complete Payroll

job offer letter pencil

job offer letter pencil

If you've ever sought advice on how to write a job offer letter, you'll discover a lot of conflicting advice. If you're worried about what your current job offer letter does say, should say or shouldn't say, here are nine great tips, collected in one place.

DO include the following in your offer letter:

  • The name of the company and the name of the employee. Use company letterhead, and be sure to type in the date and the name and address of the employee.
  • The salary you will be paying the employee—but use an hourly, weekly or monthly rate instead of the annual rate. Using an annual rate can be interpreted as guaranteeing employment for a year.
  • The duties and responsibilities of the position, so that the employee knows exactly what he or will be expected to do. You should also state that these duties may expand and evolve over time, or add “other duties as assigned” in case you need this person to take on a few tasks that weren't in the original job description.
  • An “at-will” clause. This will prevent an employee from misconstruing the letter as a contract and taking you to court if you fire him or her.
  • Language that states how continued employment depends on following organizational policies and procedures and any contingencies, such as signing a nondisclosure agreement or taking a drug test.
  • A welcome. With all of the legalities and other facts you need to worry about, don't forget to mention that you’re happy to welcome new employees to the company or look forward to working with them.

DON'T include:

  • Language that makes the letter sound like a contract.
  • A place for the employee to sign the letter, which also makes it seem like a contract.
  • Language that implies job security or longevity, such as “You’ll be able to grow here” or “You will enjoy a long career here.”

Hiring a new employee is exciting and when you’ve chosen the right candidate, you look forward to working with them. You just want to be careful what you put into writing so it can't be misconstrued. To help with the hiring process, check out our New York State Employee Onboarding Kit by clicking the button below.

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If you're hiring an employee, or think you might be soon, check out our comprehensive resource page, Employee Onboarding - A Complete Guide. This is a handy, tightly-packaged outline that presents all the critical hiring and onboarding elements in simple, chronological order. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

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