A Job Seeker’s Guide To Job Offer Letters

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You applied, interviewed, and now you have a job offer letter. If you want to make sure you want to take this offer–or negotiate, you need to understand what it means. There might be some words you don’t use in your everyday life, but they are essential to understand. Here’s what you’ll find in your job offer letter.

A job offer letter is an important step in getting a new job. If you are on the job hunt, we recommend ZipRecruiter! ZipRecruiter is free and makes applying for jobs easy. You can also upload your resume to their resume database so that employers who use ZipRecruiter can find you! Get started with ZipRecruiter today.

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What Is A Job Offer Letter?

A job offer letter is an official job offer. The representative from the company–usually the hiring manager or the recruiter– writes a letter that details the terms of employment. It can come as a hard copy in the mail, via email, or via an electronic contract, where you can sign it online. It’s likely that the recruiter or hiring manager will make you a verbal offer first and will follow up with this offer letter.

If you’re still in the process of applying for jobs, it’s important to make sure your resume is up-to-date! If you need help with your resume, check out the best resume writing services.

What’s Included In A Job Offer Letter?

While offer letters will vary from company to company and job to job, there are some standard items that you should expect to see in every job offer. These are:

  • Company name.
  • Your name. You should check and make sure they didn’t accidentally send you the wrong offer.
  • Job title. Again, double-check that this is what you interviewed for. Sometimes you interview for a Senior Analyst role, but they offer you a Junior Analyst position. If you don’t like the title, now is the time to negotiate that.
  • Exempt/non-exempt status. This tells you if you will be eligible for overtime or not. Exempt employees receive the same pay, no matter how many hours they work. Non-exempt employees receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week (or eight hours in a day in some states).
  • The approximate number of hours you’ll be expected to work each week.
  • Pay rate. For a salaried role, you may see an annual salary, weekly salary, or bi-monthly salary. For a non-exempt, hourly position, your pay should be the hourly wage.
  • Person you will report directly to.
  • Start Date

Depending on the role, you may find some of these included with your offer letter. They may come on separate pages, so make sure you read through everything you receive

  • Any pay bonuses. This can be a discretionary bonus, holiday pay, call-in pay, shift differentials, or anything that can affect your paycheck.
  • Contingencies. Such as, you must still undergo a background check, credit check, or drug test before the offer becomes official.
  • Any union information, if applicable.
  • Any licenses you’re required to have for the job.
  • Benefits information. This including health insurance, retirement funds (such as a 401k), and vacation time.
  • Any legal documents you need to sign. This may include confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and non-competes.

How To Accept A Job Offer

Read And Review All Information

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First, read through all the information! If you didn’t receive benefits information, ask for that first. It’s a big part of your compensation.

If Everything Looks Good, Accept The Offer

If everything is satisfactory, go ahead and accept it! But, if the salary isn’t quite where you want it, your title isn’t as promised, or anything else that isn’t great, it’s time to negotiate!

Negotiate If Needed

While negotiating can be scary, most companies expect you to at least try. Of course, you want to be reasonable. If the offer is for $50,000, trying to negotiate a $100,000 salary, you’ll get laughed at.

If there are non-disclosure agreements, non-competes, or you have legal obligations to your current or previous company, make sure you get an attorney to review everything. You don’t want to get surprised!

Come To An Agreement

If you can come to an agreement, great! Tell the hiring manager verbally or via email, and then sign the offer letter.

How To Decline A Job Offer

If you can’t agree to the terms of the offer, or you simply don’t want to accept the offer, you’ll need to decline. This is fine! You’re not committing to a company when you go on a job interview.

Communicate With The Hiring Manager

Let the hiring manager know that you genuinely appreciate the offer, but you will be turning it down. Again, this isn’t a trick you use to try to get a boost in salary or benefits. If you want that, negotiate first. Just be clear.

They may ask you why. It’s up to you to decide whether to answer that question. Things like “I am looking for a higher salary” are pretty easy to say. But, if your real reason is something sticky like, “I didn’t like the culture,” or “The more I learned about your company, the less I wanted to work there,” it’s probably best just to say, “I had so many good options, it was hard to choose, but ultimately I decided to [whatever you are going to do].”

Don’t Ghost The Company

Whatever you do, don’t ghost the company! Let them know that you don’t want to take the job. Someone else probably wants the job, so please let them know immediately if you won’t accept the offer.

For more information, check out our guide on how to decline a job offer.

Frequently Asked Questions 

When can I expect to receive the offer letter?

You will generally receive a formal letter after receiving a verbal offer.

What does HR do before a job offer?

This can vary, but generally, they’ve gotten an approved salary and benefits package, checked your references, and confirmed that everyone has agreed to hire you.

What happens after signing the offer letter?

You start the job! You’ll come to work on your first day, be met by HR or your new boss, be given paperwork, and get to work!

What should I ask before accepting a job offer?

There are many things you may want to know, but the most important are salary, benefits, schedule, and anything you agree to.

The Bottom Line

The job offer letter can be the most exciting part of job hunting! You’ve done it! You’ve gotten the job! But, make sure you read it carefully and ask any questions you may have. Now that you know everything you need to know about job offer letters, it’s time to land a job! Start your search on ZipRecruiter today!