April 14, 2023

Your offer letters are probably boring — here’s how to change that

Instead of treating the offer letter as a mundane, bureaucratic artefact, what if we designed it with the candidate’s user experience in mind?

Rhys Black

3 min read

Every company touchpoint a candidate or employee encounters shapes their experience of your startup. Which is why your people team should approach the workplace experience as if they’re building a product to release to customers.

The employee becomes the user, the employee lifecycle is the user journey and the product features are the policies, processes and workplace norms that shape an employee’s day-to-day experience — think onboarding, compensation, benefits, career development and more. 

When it comes to starting to think in this way, your offer letter provides the ideal "product" for your people team  to approach like product managers, designers and engineers.


Offer letter x employee-focused design

Receiving a job offer letter after a potentially long and stressful interview process can be a very emotional moment for a candidate. But they’re rarely exciting — what you often find in front of you is a page of boilerplate language and legal jargon. So what could have been the joyful culmination of a nerve-wracking process ends up being dull, anticlimactic and even confusing.

Instead of treating the offer letter as a mundane, bureaucratic artefact, what if we designed it with the candidate’s "user experience" in mind? After all, when a candidate joins your company, they’re basically subscribing to a product that you offer: the experience of working at your company.

How to build a memorable offer letter

Here are some tips for creating a more memorable offer letter. 

  1. Improve the content. The easiest place to start is to improve the content, structure and tone of voice. Think about how you’re presenting the information and in what sequence. Get to the point (that the candidate has been successful) in the very first sentence, then paint a high-level vision of how the candidate will bring the role to life. Make the language more human, welcoming and celebratory by acknowledging the candidate’s emotions and the hiring team’s excitement. As for the mandatory legal stuff, move it to a "further reading" section.
  2. Improve the visual design. Related to the tone of voice is the visual identity of the offer letter — make sure it doesn’t look plain and generic. Brand the document with your company’s colours, fonts and other design elements so that it’s unmistakably an offer letter from your company.
  1. Make it responsive and interactive. An offer letter is often just static text in a Word doc or pdf — but it doesn’t have to be. Make it a responsive webpage. Add animations or graphics. Walk the user through a page-by-page journey so they can explore and absorb each part of the offer letter in detail — the remuneration package (including benefits, stock options and perks), as well as FAQs and legal terms and conditions. This interactive experience can be created with no-code or low-code platforms like Webflow, so it doesn’t require developer resources.
  1. Design for mobile. People aren’t always on their computers, and a lot of candidates will probably receive the offer letter on their phone — so ideally you should optimise or account for this display format. Design the letter so they can click on the link and see their offer clearly instead of tiny text in a Word or Google doc. That’s another benefit of a responsive webpage — it’ll probably also present well on mobile.

Lastly, keep in mind that you don’t have to do all this at once! Start small — for instance, for the first version you could just improve the language and content. Then, as time and resources allow, you can get more creative. Remember to gather user feedback so that you can iterate and improve incrementally.

Designing a good offer letter is one of the most impactful things you can do when welcoming a new employee. But it doesn’t have to stop there. This user-focused, design-led approach can be applied to everything people interact with at a company. Ultimately, designing with the user and the user’s journey in mind will result in happier and more engaged employees, who will also become ambassadors of your employer brand.

Rhys Black is the director of workplace design, community, educational programmes and services at employment platform Oyster.