Extending the Offer. Step 6 to Successful Hiring
Once you have decided which candidate you would like to extend an offer to, then you have to construct an offer letter. These letters contain the conditions of employment that were discussed during the interview and job offer process. Once they are signed by both parties, offer letters are considered legal documents and can be used to resolve any disputes that might come up relating to employment terms.
The offer letter is the initial step for extending an offer to a candidate. Offer letter letters must include:
- The legal and trading names of the employer
- The name of the employee. The address of the employee's place of work
- Job title or a brief description of the work
- The date when the employment began
Offer letters can be disputed and changed based on back and forth discussions between the employer and the candidate. A spine surgeon's offer letter will most likely be a preliminary contract. The surgeon will look over the letter thoroughly and will request some changes. This is normal, and you should be prepared to make some changes. The surgeon might want the offer letter to include vacation time, sign-on bonus, relocation stipend, and any other benefits they feel should be listed within the offer letter. The offer letter might also include:
- Pay (Salary and bonus possibly)
- Intervals of Pay (Monthly, Bi-Weekly etc.)
- Guidelines for resignation and termination
Make certain that everything is spelled out clearly
If you have been promised something verbally pertaining to your employment, make certain that it is included in your offer letter. Bennett cites the example where an employee is verbally promised three or four weeks of annual vacation as an enticement, when the standard laid out in the employee manual is two weeks. "It's almost like, if it isn't in the offer letter, it didn't happen," he says. "Then the employer will have a very good argument that the matter is handled in the employee manual." The result is that what you believe you have been promised may not materialize.
Make certain you have all the relevant information
You should review all documents, such as an employee manual, benefits program, etc., that are incorporated into or referred to in an offer letter before signing. "It would be a red flag for me if an employer referenced policies or documents but wouldn't share them with the employee before the offer letter is signed," he says.
Pay particular attention to variable compensation
It is important to flesh all that out clearly so that there is an unambiguous understanding of how any of these items are calculated, when they are due, and what event or events trigger them. The great feelings that you have at the beginning of your relationship can all too easily dissolve into dispute when expectations are not met.
It is often worthwhile to consult an attorney before accepting an offer
Employment law differs considerably from state to state. What may be perfectly legal and commonplace in one locale may be illegal in another, as some states favor employers and others favor employee rights. Hiring a local attorney to review an offer letter requires relatively little legal time, and may have significant benefits.
You should also describe the kinds of agreements you'll need the candidate to sign. It's good practice to mention these in the offer letter so that the candidate can determine whether they can or cannot meet your terms before accepting the offer to avoid any complications during employment. The agreements should be separately provided.
Examples of these agreements include:
- Non-disclosure agreements, which protect sensitive company information
- Non-compete agreements, which limit the employee's ability to engage in business activities that directly compete with the company during and (where legal) after employment with your company.
Unless you intend to use the offer letter as a legally binding contract once the employee signs it, be careful to avoid including language that might be misconstrued as the terms of a contract.
Avoid statements that suggest guaranteed continued or indefinite periods of employment. Above all, make sure to have your offer letter reviewed by legal counsel.
The easiest way to prevent miscommunication is to clearly state that that you are an at-will employer.
In the end, the final employment offer that you sign should fairly and accurately set forth the meeting of minds that you have achieved with your new employer. When you begin a relationship with that kind of crystal clear communication, you are off to a great start.