Sending a job offer letter can be challenging to navigate, whether by email or by formal letter. What should you include? How should you send it? We’ve answered all your questions below. You’ll also find a clear, easy-to-follow offer letter template for both email and traditional letter job offers.
What is an Offer Letter?
A job offer letter is a notification to the potential employee that they have been offered the opportunity to fill a vacant position. Generally, a job offer includes details about the position and the expectations of both parties.
It alerts the potential employee to all aspects of their possible future position. A clear and detailed explanation of job functions and duties expected of the employee are usually present. The rate of pay/salary and possibly the deductions or benefits information are included as well.
Is an Offer Letter a Contract?
Job offer letters are not contracts. They are not legally binding and do not contractually obligate either party to do anything.
Additionally, a job offer letter is not a guarantee or promise of employment. It is common to extend a job offer to an applicant with it being specifically contingent on a clear drug test or background check, etc.
There is, however, a time when a contract between employer and employee is necessary. At this point, once the offer has been accepted, it is normal to have both parties read and sign an employment agreement.
Employment Agreement vs. Job Offer Letter
The employment agreement is legally binding. This document customarily includes the rights and responsibilities of both employee and employer. Any minute details or legal information not present in the job offer letter, should be present in the employment agreement.
Once both parties sign an employment agreement, it is legally and contractually binding. Unlike the job offer letter, it guarantees employment and is usually the first step in the applicant becoming an official employee.
When to Send a Job Offer Letter
Many hiring managers will call a candidate before sending the official job offer letter. Calling, however, is not sufficient as a job offer.
After the employer selects the candidate they most want for the position, they should draft a job offer letter. A call — or even a face-to-face statement made at the end of an interview in some cases — can be made for verbal confirmation of intent to the employee.
Then, the job offer letter should either be sent to the applicant’s email address or their physical address through the mail. It can be helpful to tell the applicant that they will be seeing an email or a physical letter shortly and to keep an eye out for it.
There is no need to wait for drug or criminal checks before the offer letter, as this is only an offer that can be contingent on several issues.
What to Include in a Job Offer Letter
A complete list of what a job offer should include:
- Job title
- Salary / rate of pay
- Expected job duties/job description
- Start date
- Hours of work (part-time, full-time, temporary)
- Chain of command
- At-will statement (for all U.S. states except Montana)
- Offer expiration date
Job Offer Letter Templates
Below, you will find one example of an offer letter sent by email and one offer letter sent by mail. Both are acceptable options for extending an offer of employment to a candidate.
Email Offer Letter Template
There are two options when sending an offer letter by email — you can either copy the entire offer letter into the body of the email, or you can send the offer letter as a PDF attachment.
If copying the letter into the body of the email, use the same template as the physical letter. If you’re sending an attachment, here is a template for the body of the accompanying email.
Email Subject Line: Job Offer from [Name of company]
Dear [Name of job applicant],
Congratulations! We are pleased and excited to offer you employment for the position of [Name of job title] at [Name of company].
We received many applications and conducted many interviews, but your [qualities about the candidate that made them your top choice] are what ultimately helped make our decision. We’re looking forward to adding your skills to our team.
As discussed, [over the phone or in the interview], you will find your formal job offer letter attached to this email. Please review it and let us know of your acceptance by [deadline] by signing and scanning the offer back to [email address].
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns you may have at [email address] or [phone number]. I will be happy to help.
We look forward to having you on our team!
[Your job title]
[Name of company]
Physical Letter Offer Template
As mentioned above, this text can be copied into the body of an email offer or included as a PDF attachment. You can also send it by physical mail to the applicant.
[Your logo here]
Dear [Name of applicant],
We are pleased and excited to extend you this offer of employment for [Job title] at [Name of company], contingent upon [list of contingencies]. Please review the terms and conditions of employment below.
This is a [part-time/full-time/temporary] position, requiring [hours expected per week], with job title of [job title]. You will report directly to the [manager’s job title] at [workplace location], and your list of regular job duties are as follows:
- [Brief list of job duties]
The start date for this position will be [start date].
The starting annual base salary for [job title] is [salary], to be paid on a [weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.] basis as [salary per pay period]. The first paycheck will be received on [first pay date].
This salary is subject to reduction, withholding and other deductions for tax purposes as required by law.
In addition to this salary, [name of company] is offering you [bonuses, stocks, commission, etc.].
As an employee of [name of company], you will be eligible to participate in company-wide benefits. [Name of company] offers a wide range of benefits, including:
- [Brief list of company benefits, insurance, vacation time, 401(k), etc.]
As with all employees of [name of company], you will be required to observe and uphold [list of various company policies and procedures]. Access to and storage of employee personal information will be per federal privacy legislation.
Your employment at [name of company] is on an at-will basis, and both you and [name of company] will be free to terminate your employment at any given time for any or no reason, with or without advance notice.
This letter is also not a guarantee or binding contract regarding the terms or duration of your employment.
Please indicate your agreement with the above terms in this offer by signing, dating and returning this letter to [name of correct individual to send the accepted offer] on or before [date of offer expiration].
Should you have any questions or concerns before accepting this offer, please reach out to [name of hiring manager] at [email address] or [phone number] any time between [working hours] on [working days of the week].
We are looking forward to having you on our team!
[Name of company]
Printed Name: __________________________________________________________
Now that you have two different offer letter examples to help in your hiring process, let’s examine a few more frequently asked questions.
Can an employer take back a job offer?
Yes. An employer may rescind a job offer at any time, and they are not required to supply any reason or explanation for their rescinding.
How do I get the applicant to accept my offer?
First and foremost, your offer letter should express your excitement or pleasure at offering this applicant a position at your company. You want them to feel valued and essential to your team. Including warm and personalized comments in the offer (as exemplified in the email template) will show the applicant that you care particularly about them.
Provide as much information as possible without overwhelming them. The employment contract that will come after the acceptance of the offer letter will have better and more specific details, but if you offer extensive PTO/vacation time at your company, put that on full display in your offer letter. Additionally, include any bonuses or other perks of employment.
The suggestion to call the applicant before sending the formal offer letter is a great idea to send more warmth their way. When you speak to them on the phone beforehand, be friendly and excited. Let them know that you are delighted to extend a job offer to them.
Is email or traditional letter better for job offers?
It depends. Are you looking for a more formal or informal extension of your job offer? Both choices present some pros and cons.
Email Job Offer
In the case of the email, it is best to attach a PDF document with a quick introduction in the body of the email. It is possible to send the letter in the body of the email, but assuming the applicant must print the offer and sign, a PDF is best.
- Faster than traditional mail
- The applicant is sure to check their email, but may not be as diligent about traditional mail
- Able to create a direct line of communication
- Less formal
- Applicants must print the offer themselves
- Technical difficulties could occur at any time
Traditional Letter Job Offer
For traditional mail, it is best to overnight the offer. If you call the applicant on a Tuesday to alert them of the incoming job offer, and they don’t receive it until the following Wednesday, you may cause some confusion.
- More formal
- Applicant can take their time reviewing without having to look at a screen
- Applicant must only sign, no printing required
- Slower than email
- Less warm and friendly
- Could lose it amongst junk mail
An offer letter is vital for both the employer and the employee; it could make or break an applicant’s acceptance decision. Although not contractually or legally binding, they are formal and informative and signal the first step of a mutual agreement for employment. Drafting a job offer letter is tough, and should be done right. You can refer to this comprehensive guide, for everything you need to know about offer letters.