After polishing your cover letters and resume, prepping for interviews, and answering question after question, you did it! You got the job. Your hard work paid off, and now you can relax (at least until the first day).
However, before you accept the job, you need a job offer. And while that sounds straightforward enough, there’s more to a job offer than meets the eye!
What Is a Job Offer?
A job offer is what you’ve been waiting for: the formal, official invitation to work at the company! A job offer outlines the details of what you’re going to do, where you’re going to do it, and everything else you want to know before you accept.
Why You Want It in Writing
Though you’ll likely get a verbal offer first, it’s crucial to get the final job offer in writing. While it’s not an employment contract, a written job offer details the essentials about the role and protects you in case key details don’t line up.
What Should Be Included in a Job Offer?
While a written job offer can consist of many things, it should include the following items.
The offer should include your job title. Make sure what’s in the job offer matches the job title you applied for and what was discussed during interviews. While this may seem like a tiny detail, the job title you start with can impact how much you’re paid and how quickly you’re promoted.
There should also be a job description. While it may not be as extensive as what was in the job posting, check it over to ensure the description in the offer matches what you thought it would be and lines up with what you discussed with your interviewer.
This section will likely also include information confirming that you’re full-time or part-time, how many hours a week you’re expected to work, and if you’re an at-will employee. If this information is not in the job description, that’s fine, but make sure it’s somewhere in the job offer.
Name of Boss and Department
Not everyone interviews with their future boss, and sometimes when you’re hired, your future supervisor’s position is also open.
Make sure the job offer includes your new boss’s name (or their title if the role is vacant) and that the offer states which department you work in. This gives you an idea of the company structure and clarifies your specific role in the organization.
The offer should also include your start date and where and when you report on the first day. Even in a fully remote job, you have to report somewhere, even if it’s on Slack. Check the details and ask for clarity or login information, so you’re not late!
A written job offer is usually the final offer, meaning you’ve finished negotiations. A written job offer should include whatever salary figure you agreed to, as well as what the commission structure is (if applicable). Also, ensure it has any additional salary information you negotiated (a review after 90 days or a salary bump after six months) and that the offer clarifies if you’re exempt or nonexempt, so you know what to expect in terms of overtime pay.
As a rule, a job offer doesn’t include extensive benefits information. That’s usually found in the employee handbook.
For most benefits (like insurance), there’s generally a brief, one-sentence overview that tells you what benefits you’re eligible for, and it may include an eligibility date. For example, “This position is eligible for full medical benefits after 90 days of employment.”
A job offer usually includes a bit more information about paid time off:
- This position is eligible for unlimited paid time off starting on the first day of employment.
- This position is eligible for five days of sick leave stating the first day of employment and earns one paid day off for every month of continuous employment.
- This position starts with one week paid time off and is eligible for two more paid weeks after six months of continuous employment.
While these sentences give you a brief idea of the policies, it’s best to confirm the details with HR.
A Signature Line
And finally, there is usually a place for you to sign and accept the offer! Alternatively, there may be instructions on how to accept the job offer. After you do that, you’ll be on your way to a new job.
What Might Be Included In a Job Offer
In addition to what you should see, don’t be surprised if you see some of the following in your job offer.
Though you have a written offer in hand, the employer may still need to do a background check, a reference check, or verify you’re eligible to work in the country, for example. Your employment may be contingent on the results of these, and the letter may state this.
Confidentiality or Noncompete Agreements
Some job offers include language about signing a confidentiality or noncompete agreement as part of your employment. These will likely be separate documents for you to review and sign, but it’s possible that signing the offer letter also subjects you to these agreements.
It’s All in the Details
The job offer contains crucial details about your potential employer and job. Review them to ensure the job lines up with everything you thought it would be so you don’t have to restart your job search too soon.
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