How Hiring Works

Making the offer

You've made your choice and now you have to let the lucky candidate know. You can do so either by mail, phone, or other communication means. At the end of the interview, you should tell the candidate how and approximately when you expect to contact them. This helps alleviate some of the stress for the candidate, as well as helps you cut down on phone calls you'll get asking if "you've made a decision yet?"

The most common method is to extend a verbal offer by phone and follow it up with a letter spelling out the details of the offer including such things as the negotiated salary, hours, etc. Include in the letter any contingencies such as physical exams, drug tests, etc. Then ask that the employee either sign and return the letter as a record of their acceptance of the position, or call you. Give them a deadline in which to respond too, so you know when to start thinking about your second choice.

While it is important that the letter spell out some detail, make sure you don't include too much. Most states have an Employment At Will doctrine that means it is assumed that the position is for an indefinite amount of time, and that either the employer or employee can terminate the relationship for any reason. One thing that can put a kink in that is if your Offer Letter is written more as an employment contract. Here are some things to watch out for in your Offer Letter.

  • Watch out for phrases within the letter that imply the permanence of the position. No one is really a permanent employee.
  • State the salary as a monthly figure. It is not unknown for a court to award a year's salary to an employee who was discharged within 6 months based on the salary figure in the Offer Letter. Or, that the employee had to be kept on for one year because of the way it was stated in the Offer Letter.
  • Don't state the intervals for evaluations. Courts have also held that new hires had to be kept on at least until the evaluation because it was stated that they would be "evaluated in 3 months" in the Offer Letter. Use general terms for these statements.
  • Make sure the letter somewhere states that it is not an employment contract and does not spell out specific terms of employment.

Employment contracts
Sometimes hiring the right employee does require a written employment contract either for your protection or for theirs. These contracts can spell out any number of specifications pertaining to the job, including:

  • salary and other compensation
  • term of employment
  • pay increase schedules
  • review schedules
  • specifications for terminating (such as just or good cause -- not just for any reason)
  • ownership and rights as they relate to created works by the employee
  • rights of the employee for performing similar work outside of the company
  • employee dispute resolution

Almost anything can be written into an employment contract. One thing, however, that can't be included is a waiver of the rights guaranteed by the government such as overtime pay for nonexempt employees, discrimination and harassment laws, family and medical leave act, etc. The contract is a two-way street too. Both the employee and the employer are required to hold up their end of it.

For those who didn't make the cut...
Once you have the acceptance of the candidate of your choice, contact the others candidates you interviewed either by phone or letter. This is important not only as a courtesy, but because you never know when you might call those candidates back. It is certainly possible that your chosen one will change his or her mind and you'll end up calling your second choice right away. If not, you may have another position open a later date that one of those candidates could fill. Don't ruin your chances of getting them back by failing to let them know about the decision for the current position.

There's nothing worse as a new employee than arriving at work for your first day on the job and having no one know who you are or why you are there. Make sure there is someone (if not yourself) available to show the new employee around, answer questions, introduce them to staff, and get them started on the right foot.

While formal orientation programs are great, even an informal one is better than nothing!