How can you make the process of negotiating employment offer letters easier, friendlier and faster?
Offer letters mark the beginning of a new employer/employee relationship – it should be an exciting time for all involved. But clunky manual processes slow down time-to-hire and can put candidates off. This deep dive explores the negotiation process for employment offer letters – who’s affected, what’s involved, and how to make it easier, friendlier and faster. Use the navigation below to find out more, or explore our deep dives on other contracts, like NDAs and MSAs.
What's an employment offer letter?
You’ve decided on your best candidate for the job and it’s now time to send through an employment offer letter. This letter gives the candidate basic information about the role along with details on salary, employment terms and conditions, start date, and more. The offer letter is a touchpoint for employer/candidate negotiations. You might follow up with a separate, lengthier and more formal employment contract.
Who do offer letters affect?
Once a business reaches a certain size, many different people may be involved in the offer letter process. These might include:
Talent acquisition, people or hiring teams are responsible for maintaining a level of employee growth within the business. Often a prospective new hire’s first contact with the company, these teams are dedicated to providing best-in-class candidate experience. The more streamlined the offer letter process, the less time it takes to hire a candidate – which is good for the candidate and good for the business.
Authorized signatories will need to sign the contract on behalf of the business before the document is sent to the candidate.
The role hiring manager is usually involved in agreeing the terms and conditions set out in the offer letter, and will make changes to the document. For example, the head of sales might want involvement in salespeople hires, just as general counsel would want input on hiring for their growing legal team.
The candidates are also crucial stakeholders in, and most significantly affected by, the offer letter workflow. The employment offer letter might be the first written communication the newly joined employee and their employer have had; it can provide an insight into the job they hope to accept, the team they will be joining and the workplace culture they will shape.
In smaller companies, where a people team isn’t yet established, the founders or leadership team might be responsible for the offer letter process.
How to approach offer letter negotiations
On a spectrum of minimally negotiated contracts to heavily negotiated contracts, offer letters typically sit towards the lower end of the scale. But negotiation is still important: when you’re trying to secure good candidates, they are likely involved in more than one hiring process, so it’s essential to provide a streamlined experience and to negotiate the best terms.
Make sure you know which terms you’re willing to negotiate – where do you have flexibility? Remember, negotiation and willingness to be flexible is important in reaching agreement: candidates can feel disengaged and frustrated if there’s no discussion, and you run the risk of losing them altogether.
How to make offer letter negotiation easier
The whole purpose of the offer letter is to secure a signature – you want your chosen candidate to sign the document and join the team – so it’s important to consider how you can make this process as frictionless as possible.
Improve your content
User-friendly design and language can play a big role in making offer letter negotiations easier. The faster the candidate can access and understand information, the less likely they are to spend time clarifying terms and digging around for information. Ditch the legal jargon and use friendly, approachable and easy-to-understand language that excites the candidate and reflects your business culture. Make sure the most important information is clearly visible – this will prevent miscommunication and encourage the candidate to sign.
Iterating your offer letter based on previous experiences can streamline the negotiation process and help you get to “Yes” faster
Look through previous offer letters and identify the points that were heavily negotiated – can you make changes to these now to minimize back-and-forth later on? For example, if the six-month notice period set out in your offer letters is a frequent point of contention, could you change that clause to minimize negotiation in the first place? Iterating based on previous experience can streamline the negotiation process and help you get to “Yes” faster.
Improve your process
One way to improve your offer letter process is to make it more visible internally. Integrations with collaboration apps like Slack and Juro’s timeline feature mean that relevant teams in the business can keep track of the contract, its status and any updates, and how the counterparty has engaged with it. This insight is invaluable and can make negotiations much easier by opening up channels of communication; for example, employers can see whether the candidate has opened the letter and can then suggest a call to discuss it.
Find out more about negotiating employment offer letters in our free eBook, 'Contract automation: start small, win big'.
Useful features for negotiating offer letters
If you’re choosing software to improve your employment offer letter process, look out for the following features to help make negotiation easier:
In-browser commenting. The ability for internal stakeholders – including people teams and hiring managers – to make comments and suggest edits without altering a contract can streamline negotiations and prevent lengthy email chains.
Mobile-responsive eSignature. In the digital age, eSignature is a must-have. And mobile-responsive eSignature allows candidates to sign a contract moments after that successful interview – no printing and scanning required.
Attachments. If you want to prevent information overload in the offer letter document and keep the important stuff front and centre, the ability to attach additional documents – perhaps detailing share options or data protection policies – will be vital.
Timeline. A timeline offers oversight of the contract process. With this feature, you can maintain a full audit trail of amendments and comments in the offer letter, and scroll back to see the history. This can help with version control and streamline negotiations – both internally and with the candidate.
Visibility. You can enhance the candidate experience with insight into their activity. For example, if you are notified when a candidate has viewed the letter, you may be able to move negotiations along by giving them a call to discuss in real time.
Is a poor offer letter process a pain point for your business, hurting your time-to-hire metrics and leading to a bad candidate experience?
Try Juro and see how you can benefit from a flexible DocuSign alternative that enables the business, reduces time-to-hire and gives your candidates the experience they deserve.