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Promise to Hire: Everything you need to know + Template

Promise to Hire: Everything you need to know + Template

5 minutes

Sep 15, 2023

Written by Océane Prunier

Do you want to recruit an employee efficiently? You've come to the right place.

As a recruiter, it's vital to understand the legal implications of a promise to hire. It is not considered a formal employment contract, but rather a moral commitment on the part of the employer.

Guaranteeing a position to a selected candidate is not a recent idea; it goes back decades. It was in the 20th century, when companies began to formalize their recruitment processes, that recruiters decided to opt for a new process: the promise to hire.

In this article, you'll find out everything there is to know about the promise to hire, as well as a free template to download so you don't make any mistakes.

First of all, let's look at a simple, precise definition of what a promise to hire really is.


1 - What is a promise to hire?


It's important to note that an offer of employment differs from a promise to hire.

Indeed, since the rulings of the social chamber of the Cour de cassation dated September 21, 2017 (rulings no. 2063 and no. 2064), it is now established that a promise to hire can take two distinct forms. That of an offer of an employment contract or that of a unilateral promise of an employment contract. The obligations and commitments of the parties vary according to the nature of the promise.

A unilateral promise to hire constitutes a willingness to hire, under certain conditions, a candidate who has been selected for a given position. In this case, the willingness is formalized.

It is much more comprehensive, since it indicates a number of important elements. Here are just a few: benefits, working conditions, expected date of hire, working hours, place of hire, nature of position and much more.

If the candidate signs the promise, it is valid as a permanent contract. It is a contract by which the promisor grants the beneficiary the right to opt for the conclusion of the contract by his acceptance. It does not replace the employment contract. In the event of refusal, the employer can continue his or her search for a suitable candidate.


Our advice: the candidate is free to refuse the promise of employment, but this will have no effect on the employee's status or future employability. That's why you need to give them a reasonable period of time to think about your proposal, so as not to stress them out. This will enable him to give his consent or not in a more serene and considered way.

The offer of an employment contract is an act by which the employer proposes a commitment specifying the job, the starting date and the remuneration. It entails the employer's contractual responsibility. However, it can be withdrawn more easily by the employer.

Be careful not to confuse them!


2 - How do I write a promise to hire?


To be valid, a promise to hire must contain a number of equally important pieces of information.

It can be written (letter, fax, conventional letter, e-mail, SMS) or oral (phone call).

Our advice: you're not immune to disputes. To provide tangible proof in the event of a misunderstanding or dispute, we strongly advise you to opt for the written form.

Drafting a promise to hire is one of the last steps in the recruitment process, but the most important, since it clarifies the employee's situation. It informs them of their future employment contract with the company. So don't hesitate to draft it in the best possible way. Take note of our advice, which will be of great use to you.

The most important thing is to start the promise of employment in a positive and enthusiastic way, encouraging the candidate to give you a positive response. Do you want them to join your company? Negative words won't help.

So start with an introductory phrase such as: "We're delighted to offer you the position you've applied for with our company, in recognition of your skills and experience." Using this formula will immediately show them that they are being taken into consideration.

To draw up a serious promise to hire, it goes without saying that you must comply with the requirements of the French Labor Code, and therefore use the following compulsory information: the precise job title, the planned date of hiring, the type of contract (internship, fixed-term contract, open-ended contract, etc.), the duration, remuneration, fringe benefits (luncheon vouchers, health insurance), duties and responsibilities.


If even one of these elements is missing, it's no longer a promise of employment, but rather an employment contract, so don't leave any out!

As with the introduction, it's important that the closing formula encourages the candidate to accept the job. So be convincing.

Our first tip: if you have the slightest doubt, call in a legal professional who will be best placed to confirm the validity of your promise to hire.

Our second piece of advice: to enhance your credibility, take care with both form and content, using a spell-checker like MerciApp.


3 - What is the legal value of a promise to hire?


Once a promise to hire has been made, the employer cannot retract it.

In the event of a breach of the promise to hire, the employee can take legal action to obtain compensation for damages. Retraction would mean dismissal of the candidate without real and serious cause.

The nature of the promise to hire determines its legal value. A promise to hire is equivalent to an employment contract. On the other hand, an offer of employment does not constitute an employment contract as such.


4 - Is it compulsory to sign a promise to hire?


Signing a unilateral promise to hire is not a mandatory step for the recruiter. However, to confirm your intention to hire the chosen employee, we strongly recommend that you sign it.

Signing it sets a deadline, avoids disputes and misunderstandings as far as possible, and shows your commitment to the candidate. Whether you're in a sensitive situation or not, it will always be more than beneficial.


Once signed, the promise to hire is accepted, which means that you are committed to respecting the conditions set out in it. This will certainly reassure your future employee. Be careful: if you change your mind under a unilateral promise to hire, the breach would be considered an abusive breach of contract.


5 - Does an e-mail or fax count as a promise to hire?


Although there is no legal requirement to prove the existence of a contract or agreement, it is often advisable (as we recommended above) to opt for a written document. This will provide you with proof and limit the risk of litigation. Oral evidence is harder to establish and enforce. What is words really worth?

A registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt is a particularly reliable form of written proof. It proves that the addressee has received and read the document. But beware: it can be costly and impractical. So make the right choice!

To prove the existence of a contract, we recommend using two written formats that are much more effective and acceptable: e-mail and fax. These two means of communication are much cheaper, faster and more practical, and they also enable you to keep an immediate written record.

Be careful, however, about the validity of your proof. It's essential to keep a copy of the document and check the identity of the recipient.

Our advice: use a professional e-mail address or fax number to avoid any confusion.


6 - Our free template


As you can see, writing an effective unilateral promise to hire is no easy task.

To make your job easier, we've provided a free template that you can download below. This template, from Yuzu, is fully customizable to suit your specific needs and guarantee a clear, precise and effective promise to hire.

Download our promise to hire Template here


Don't hesitate to use it as a basis for creating your own document, modifying it as necessary to suit your professional situation. This will save you time and avoid common mistakes.

Give free rein to your creativity! Good luck!




A promise to hire is a commitment to hire a candidate for a specific position, subject to certain conditions. This promise can be made verbally or in writing, but it is strongly advised to put it in writing to avoid any misunderstanding or dispute later on.

Don't hesitate to consult a lawyer or an expert in employment law to ensure that the promise to hire complies with the legislation in force in the country or region where your company is located.

This article has provided you with a sample promise to hire letter that will help you recruit effectively. Don't forget to be as creative as possible, to make it as appropriate as possible for your company.