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Submitted by drinkcoffee on


Hi everyone,

In the "How to Make an Offer" podcast, I didn't hear any mention of the role of offer letters. This is a required part of the hiring process in my HR Dept. Since I am planning on making some offers soon and (hopefully) following the MT recommendations as much as possible, how do I make the offer letter effective? Should I be treating it as a mere formality?

In other words, I was planning on making the offer verbally and saying something like "I'll be sending out a written offer in the mail with all of the details of this offer. If you have any questions, please call me." Any other recommendations?


jhack's picture

In the series, M&M do state that the letters are a formality, and that the verbal offer is as good as the written. (oral contract). There should be no details in the letter that you haven't already shared with them verbally.

The letter should go out after you make the offer verbally. Most companies I've worked with only send out the letter after the offer has been verbally accepted. The letter is accompanied by the confidentiality agreement, etc.


terrih's picture

My HR department seems to think the letter IS the offer. They got all bent out of shape when I made a verbal offer the M-T way before they got their letter out. :?

FlatFeeKing's picture

it only makes logical sense to me that you would offer verbally then mail the letter to solidify the deal after they verbally accepted.

What if the letter gets lost in the mail, or goes to the wrong address? Do you really want to make the person you are offering a job have to make the first call, to call you and accept? or do they respond by letter?

jhack's picture

Regular followup with the candidate is a good idea, regardless (good people are in demand!). So after two days, call to make sure they got the paperwork. I don't wait for them. A competitor might be calling...

BTW, fax is a good backup if somehow things get lost in the mail.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="FlatFeeKing"]it only makes logical sense to me that you would offer verbally then mail the letter to solidify the deal after they verbally accepted.[/quote]

That's certainly what I would expect and how every job offer I've ever had has worked. Also I would accept a verbal offer but would be very unlikely to hand in my notice at my old job until I had a written offer.

Earlier in this thread jhack made reference to an oral contract. There's a quote, I believe attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, "An oral contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." Until you have it in writing you've got nothing.


Mark's picture
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In American business practice, an oral offer IS an offer. You do NOT need a written offer. There are lots of companies that don't use written offers.

MANY people think they have offer letters when what they have is a letter congratulating them on the acceptance of the verbal offer, while re-stating details.

Some companies offer in writing first. It is RARE.

When you have an oral offer (though you better know what an offer IS), you have an offer.

Having something in writing in the event it was later rescinded is WORTHLESS. The company can hire you or not hire you up until the day you start, and even then it is easy - at least in the US - to terminate someone for business reasons.

If you worry that there is risk there, well, there is. Just as there are people who accept and never show up. It's a free (country).

Terri, your HR department is simply trying to control against the possibility that a manager doesn't what they are doing. This is reasonable on their part, and unnecessarily constraining for good managers.

Please be careful about "only...logical" as a standard, particularly as it applies to the interviewing and offer processes.


juliahhavener's picture
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My company also subscribes to 'the letter is the offer'. I've worked with my HR department and we've come to an amicable solution. The last offers we extended were to internal candidates. HR provided the letter to me and I was able to present it at the same time I verbally offered them the position.

I'll be hiring again soon (I've been interviewing for a bit now) and hope to be able to handle the externals in a similar way. Once the letters are in, I'll be calling them to extend the offer. There are reasons the company does it this way, mostly revolving around the background checks and associated pre-hire policies, including corporate approval of hiring decisions.

terrih's picture

Thanks for the tip, Julia!