A better job offer letter

March 7, 2020
The Carta Team

At Carta, we spend a lot of time figuring out how to better educate employees about startup equity and how to calculate the equity in a job offer. We realized that the job offer letter itself was a good place to do this, so in 2016, we decided to reinvent the offer letter.

Over the years, we’ve continued to iterate, but a few core characteristics of our offer letter have remained the same. I’ve highlighted those below, and you can download the full version of our current offer letter at the end to use as a template. All numbers are accurate as of April 2019.

A better job offer letter 1

  Easy-to-read design

job offer letter template

One of the main goals we had when creating our offer letter was to make it easy to read and understand. Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and having to go through pages of legalese doesn’t help.

Instead of a dense three-page document, we break down all the details into digestible chunks to help the candidate understand everything they’re reading—especially the equity portion of the offer.

Equity education

better job offer letter

Equity can be complicated, but often, it’s what really separates job offers. This is why it’s so important for candidates to understand what they’re being offered. Instead of just telling them how many shares they can buy, we explain how vesting works, how to think about the value of their equity, and more.

Helpful context

job offer letter

At Carta, one of our core values is transparency. We live this out in a number of ways, but it all begins with our offer letter. While many companies simply note how many options the candidate can buy and at what price, we give candidates the numbers they need to do the math around our equity offer, including the projected preferred price, projected notional value of the grant, and more. And if we don’t know any of the numbers because we’re currently raising more money, we say so. We’ve also recently detailed how we fix historical errors in equity distribution.

I hope this example will encourage other companies to better explain equity in their employment offer letters. As it’s a key driver of wealth in tech, we think it’s crucial to level the playing field by making sure everyone understands how equity works. If you’d like to see the rest of the letter and use it as a template for your own, you can download it (and find instructions for implementing it) above.

Interested in implementing our job offer letter template using your ATS?

The process might vary depending on your applicant tracking system (ATS), but here are the general steps you should take:

  1. Download our template. We include PDF, Word, and Pages versions in the zip file.
  2. Update the template to reflect your company branding as well as relevant fields your ATS requires to generate the offer letter (e.g., “annual salary” should say something like {salary_amount}, not $100,000).
  3. Upload your new template to your ATS (we use Lever).
  4. Create the offer for your specific candidate in your ATS, adding the specific offer terms.
  5. Save the final version as a PDF and send to the candidate for their signature.