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What Information Is in a Job Offer Letter?

job offer letter

With nearly two-thirds of adults on the hunt for a new job, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at some point. And if you haven’t done the job search routine in a while, you might not remember what to expect. But if you nail your interview and get an offer, it’s critical to know what nuts and bolts should be included in it.

Read on to learn what to expect in a job offer letter!

Look for the Job Title

First and foremost, a job offer letter should congratulate you on being selected for a specific position. But before cracking open a bottle of champagne, check to ensure that the job title is, in fact, correct!

After mentioning the title, a formal letter may offer a brief explanation of why you were selected. For example, you might have gained relevant experience in a previous job. Or the search committee may have thought that you were ready for a step up in responsibility.

Make sure that the explanation seems reasonable — and ties into your responsibilities. At larger companies with active HR departments, there’s always the possibility that there may have been a mix-up.

Check the Job Description

Soon after congratulating you on earning an offer, the formal letter should describe the job responsibilities. Review this information to ensure that there’s nothing beyond the scope of your understanding of the job.

Also, look for the type of job. Is it salaried or hourly, and is it full-time or part-time? You want to be sure that the category for the position matches your expectations.

Be clear on whether the position is exempt or non-exempt, too. The latter option means you could be burning the midnight oil at times when things are busy. If you’re hoping for more work-life balance, you may want to investigate more about the company culture and expected hours per week.

Weigh the Salary and Benefits

Hopefully, the salary detailed in your offer letter meets your expectations. If it doesn’t, you can enter into negotiations. But before you take that step, it’s wise to check the other details of your offer package.

Look at the retirement benefits. Do you get vested contributions from your employer into a retirement fund? Look at the percentage they will contribute, as well as what is an expected contribution from you.

Health coverage is another critical component of your benefits package. You’ll want to know when coverage starts since you may need temporary coverage to fill the gap between jobs. Look at the monthly paycheck deductions, deductibles, and other critical components of the offer.

How frequently are you paid? Some companies pay every two weeks, while others will pay every month. Since this information impacts your budget, it’s vital to know it.

Notice Your Supervisor’s Name

Do you see the reporting chain listed in the formal letter? Ideally, you should at least see the title of your direct supervisor. And some letters will indicate how many direct reports you have.

It’s fair to ask for clarification if you don’t see a supervisor’s name — or you’re surprised by the name you see. If you interviewed in person or via video, there’s a good chance you met your new boss at some point.

You may also find information regarding the review process. For instance, you may have your first review after 1 month or 3 months. You can ask HR for this information if it will help your decision-making process.

Find the Starting Date

It’s critical to know when the starting date is since it could impact when you give notice at your current job. Plus, if you’re relocating for a job, you’ll need to put house on the market. If the starting date is sooner than expected, it might be worth reaching out to HR.

It’s customary to provide at least 2 weeks’ notice. But some upper-level positions may ask or even require that you give more notice. Check the rules set out with your current organization and try to negotiate the start date if it’s too soon.

And remember that the formal letter is not a binding contract. In other words, it’s an offer — but not a promise that you’ll be employed for years and years.

You might start with a probationary period, for instance. That period could result in continued employment after a successful review.

Many offer letters will say this and indicate that you are an at-will employee. This means that they can terminate you at any point. While this might sound scary, as long as you are diligent you can be successful!

Understand the Next Steps

While you have a formal letter in your hands, the process won’t end there. Some letters will specify that you need to communicate a response to HR or a supervisor. Most often, there is a date or deadline for your response.

Be clear on your response timeline, and the method through which you must submit it. For instance, you might need to submit an e-signature online or call HR with an answer at your earliest convenience.

Plus the employment may be conditional. You could need to pass a drug screening or background check. And you might need to submit formal references before your job is secure.

Review Your Job Offer Letter

When you get a job offer letter, you’ve opened the door to a new and potentially better opportunity. But don’t let the excitement cloud your mind from finding critical information, like the salary and benefits. Check that the job description matches your expectations, and don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms.

Find more advice to move your career forward. Check back soon for new articles!

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