making a formal offer of employment

After completing the interviewing and testing exercises (see ‘the job interview’ and ‘psychometric and other tests’ in chapter 4), the job offer is made to the successful candidate, subject to satisfactory references. Initially, this may be done verbally to advise the candidate has been successful, but it must be followed up immediately with a formal written offer . It demonstrates that you are serious about getting the candidate on board and could be the difference between securing that candidate or losing him or her to a competing employer

The contents of a written formal offer of employment should include:

the job title/role

starting salary

probationary period (if applicable)  

agreed start date

what action the candidate has to take.

As well as references, the offer could also be subject to a satisfactory medical test – if there is a function that’s intrinsic to the role that requires this – and security checks, if required. Medical questions can be asked once the offer is accepted in order for reasonable adjustments to be made where appropriate. For more information on medical questions and tests, see ‘medical tests’ in chapter 8.

An alternative to the formal offer, subject to conditions, is a written conditional offer of employment and follow it up with a written final offer of employment once the conditions have been met.

The letter of engagement can be accompanied by further information about the organisation, its mission, vision, values and culture. It can also include background information on current work to help prepare the individual for his or her new role together with a team chart. If the formal induction includes a course, you can include the details.

Along with providing information in writing, some organisations operate a buddy scheme where the prospective employee teams up with an existing employee. Depending on how the scheme is organised, the two may be able to meet or telephone each other and will almost certainly exchange question and answer emails.

Other details to send the employee, either with the formal offer of employment or before they start, include:

when, where and to whom they should report on their first day, this should include details such as parking, which entrance to use (if necessary) and who to call if there are problems; it’s often useful to ask them to arrive slightly later so their line manager has time to prepare for their arrival

the first day may include specific induction activities, e.g. health and safety, so it’s worth sending the new employee a schedule of the day’s activities

check with the employee before arrival how he or she likes to be addressed and whether they have any letters after their name, so that business cards, nameplates and email signatures can be set up correctly

If the organisation’s website has a space where new employees can ask questions before they arrive, make sure those questions are answered by a relevant person.

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