What is the difference between appointment letter and offer letter?

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Put simply, the difference between the offer letter and appointment letter is much like water and lemonade. The confusion arises between the two because they look the same (almost) but taste different. Moreover, while the latter takes a bit of effort, the other doesn’t really require any effort.

Didn’t get the difference yet? Let me break  it up for you- Consider offer letter as water and the appointment letter as lemonade. An offer letter is simple while the appointment letter is a bit complex (has more details). They both look the same at a glance but still are different from each other.

If I were to tell the difference in one line, I would have said that offer letter is issued when a candidate is shortlisted and appointment letter is issued after the offer letter has been accepted by the prospective employee. However, when we do have the liberty to dive deeper, why not? So, let us together look at what both of these terms mean so as to understand the difference in a better way.

Basis Offer letter Appointment letter
Purpose Offer the job role Provide contract of employment
Time After interview After offer letter
Detail Superficial Comprehensive
Legal Not legal Legal
Acceptance Required Required
Rejection after acceptance Not good but still ok Very unprofessional and rude
Other Candidate Status Other candidates on hold Other shortlisted candidates are rejected

The Key Takeaway

  • Both the letters are formal but are sent with a different purpose.
  • Offer letter is the first step to get an employee on board and to express the interest of the company in hiring the candidate.
  • It is only after the candidate accepts the offer letter that the appointment letter is sent to him or her. The purpose of the same is to provide more detail about the position and company to the candidate.
  • Candidate can use an offer letter in his current organization to resign, however, the candidate as an employee after appointment letter has been extended to him.
  • Please note than appointment letter is given after offer letter and not probation period. The letter given after completion of the probation period is the confirmation letter.


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