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What to Look for in an Offer Letter

What to Look for in an Offer Letter

Getting an offer letter is an exciting experience. It means that you successfully made it through the application and interview process and most importantly, the employer wants to hire you. Whether your road to landing a job was long or short, receiving an offer letter is an accomplishment and achievement of a goal. But once you get an offer letter in hand, do you know what to look for? An offer letter shares with you important details about the job you’re about to accept. And while it is exciting, it’s also a serious time for some close reading. In this article we will share what to look for in your offer letter so you can make an informed employment decision.

What is an Offer Letter?

An offer letter is a document given to a job candidate that an employer wants to hire. The offer letter will outline details of the offer of employment that the employer is putting on the table. By signing the offer letter, the candidate formally accepts the job and the terms of employment given by the employer.

Now that we know what an offer letter is, let’s explore what you should look for in an offer letter when one lands in your hands.

Your name and contact information: 

It may seem obvious, but make sure that the offer letter has your correct name and address. If there are any inaccuracies in the spelling of your name or other details, let the employer know so corrections can be made.


Verify that the pay matches what you promised by the company. If pay has not been discussed at this point, carefully consider if the pay meets your needs and expectations. Once you accept a job offer, you are accepting the pay. So if more negotiation or correction to pay is needed, that needs to happen before signing the offer letter. 


Just as with pay, you’ll want to verify that the schedule on the offer letter is what you were expecting. Check the days and hours for alignment with your availability and desired work schedule. Any inaccuracies should be discussed with the employer immediately.

Work location:

The location of a job is very important. It’s critical to review the work location on the offer letter. Check to see if the location is where you were told you’d work. This is especially important for businesses with multiple locations. For any location, make sure that you have reliable transportation to get there. Other things to watch for with job location are any expectations that you’ll drive your car for business purposes or if you’ll have to work at multiple locations. If any of these things are unexpected or unwanted, now is the time to speak up.

Employment Offer Contingencies:

Employment contingencies are things that the employer is basing their offer of employment on. For example, if the business requires a background check that is done after an offer is accepted, then the offer is contingent on a successful background check. If the background check doesn’t meet the employer’s hiring criteria the offer of employment may be withdrawn.

Common employment contingencies include:

  • Criminal background check

  • Reference checks

  • Employment verification

  • Credit check

  • Drug tests

  • Skills assessments 

  • Successful completion of training


Read through employment contingencies carefully so that you clearly understand how your offer of employment may be impacted. Any questions or reservations should be addressed with the employer before accepting the job offer.

Probationary Periods

Probationary periods are like trial periods before an employer extends full employment benefits. Employees in a probationary period typically are not eligible for health insurance benefits, paid time off and other benefits. New hires on probation may also be required to achieve certain performance goals before being released from probation. 

When considering a new job, it’s important that you understand the terms of any probation periods that you would enter by accepting the job. Some things to look for and understand are:

  • The length of the probationary period

  • The expectations of your work performance while on probation

  • Any benefits or perks that won’t be available until completion of probation

  • What successful completion of probation looks like

  • What happens if expectations are not met while on probation

If the answers to these questions are not clearly answered in the offer letter, contact the employer. 


Job Title

Read the offer letter carefully to ensure that it is correct. Make sure the job you're being offered is the job you applied for- and want. Sometimes employers may offer an alternative position that they feel the candidate would be a better fit. Being offered an alternative role could be a good opportunity. However, have an understanding of what the job is before accepting. 

Start Date

Knowing when you are expected to start work at a new job is very important. An offer letter should include a start date of employment. If you are leaving a job and need or want to give notice, make sure the start date is in alignment with that time frame. You'll want to communicate any issues with the company as soon as possible. 

On-Boarding Instructions

On-boarding is how companies bring new employees into the business. Some or all of these details may be shared in the offer letter. 

A few common on-boarding activities to look for in an offer letter include:

  • Orientation & training

  • Completion of new hire documents 

  • Submission of work authorization documents

  • Uniforms and dress code 

If the offer letter does  include on-boarding instructions, make sure to understand what is expected of you and follow through. 

Receiving an offer letter is an important and exciting part of starting a new job. Your offer letter is a useful tool to make a smooth transition into your next job. 



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