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When we think of inspirational quotes, memes come to mind: those with bold, aspirational phrases such as “believe and succeed.” These may be cliché, but one inspirational statement rings true when it comes to the recruiting offer letter: “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Though the quote was incorrectly attributed to Maya Angelou, the sentiment stands. The recruiting process is made up of moments more memorable than what a piece of paper or a DocuSigned PDF says. So why do we treat the offer letter like any other transaction — and how do we celebrate this moment instead?
The trouble with best practices
Alongside those memes mentioned above, the internet is full of articles promoting best practices. Yours truly probably even wrote a few of them. But stock offer letters and other best practices, devoid of pomp and circumstance, take the joy out of hiring for both the candidate and the recruiter.
For too long, the industry has focused on what’s important to the recruiter, whether it’s ease, automation or saving time. These best practices fly in the face of personalization and individualization, which are crucial to creating memorable moments. Sure, it can be hard to focus on the candidate experience when you’re juggling multiple requisitions, but it’s not impossible.
It’s time to put a stop to stock letters and generic emails and return to simpler tactics, such as remembering people’s names, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. The offer letter represents a turning point on both sides and deserves more respect than “Print name” and “Sign here.”
Make it a partnership
In some ways, an offer letter is like a marriage proposal. A proposal involves careful deliberation, an important question and a symbol of intent (a ring). Now, this is not to say that recruiters should start handing out diamond solitaires to every candidate — but there’s something to be said for investing thought and effort.
When extending a job offer, you want the candidate to say yes and engage with your organization for the foreseeable future. That’s a big commitment, and it’s one you’ll both need to live with once the letter is signed.
Here is where that misattributed quote comes back into play: Make the offer letter memorable. It’s not just a letter; it’s a decision to partner together. And it’s not just what your message says, it’s how the candidate feels when they receive it.
So how do you make extending the offer letter a highly personal moment? You take note of who the candidate is, what they like and what they want during each and every interaction. You listen for the anecdotes, interests, hobbies and other identifying details. Even if what you learn is surface level, that’s enough.
Say your new hire mentions they’re an avid cook. That’s easy: Pair the offer letter with a copy of your favorite cookbook, or if you send it electronically, include links to recipes for a celebratory dinner. If they enjoy spending time with family, package the offer with…