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Dear Workforce What Is the Protocol for Using E-Mail to Acknowledge Job Offers to Candidates?

Dear Gun-Shy:

Your anxiety is understandable. It is a bit risky to send “new job” correspondence to a candidate’s existing work-related e-mail.

However, unless a potential employer sends information to a candidate’s work-related e-mail without permission, the ultimate decision on the use of an e-mail address is up to the candidate.

Some important points to keep in mind:

• E-mail is well established as a standard and acceptable method of business communication.

• There may be many legitimate reasons a candidate is using a current employer’s e-mail. For instance, some employers allow use of company resources for outplacement—meaning they are both aware and supportive of an employee’s transition. Especially now, when many companies are forced to downsize, this may be a benefit offered to terminated employees.

Be aware that the “auto fill” function in many e-mail systems raises the risk of sending a job offer to a work-related e-mail without the candidate’s permission. Use the following checklist to make sure you are sending to their desired address:

Revisit past e-mails. Does all prior correspondence come from a personal e-mail? If so, it may be a simple oversight by the candidate. Give the person a call or use a different e-mail address to confirm where you should send the job offer.

Verify you aren’t inadvertently using the “wrong” e-mail address. This has happened before. It is fairly common for candidates to be sourced from competing or related companies. That means it’s possible the candidate has e-mailed your company before in a legitimate business capacity—prior to showing interest in your job. Check your address book to make certain you do not have two e-mail addresses for the candidate. You may find that your system has selected the candidate’s work e-mail automatically.

Check your company’s policy on offer letters. Some companies still require that offer letters be in written format (hard copy), regardless of the candidate’s preference for e-mail.

Find out more details. Determine whether you are sourcing an employee from a competing company that is likely to have strict no-compete clauses in place. If that is the case, use extra diligence in verifying which e-mail address to use. It is better to be safe than sorry.

SOURCE: Nels Wroe, SHL Group, Colorado, July 12, 2010

LEARN MORE: Please read “Employees and E-Mail Privacy Rights” for more on this topic.

Workforce Management Online, September 2010Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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