Show your support for a stellar employee by recommending them to others
You may be sad to hear that one of your top employees wants to leave, but you can support their next steps by offering to write a letter of recommendation rather than burning bridges. But what exactly is a letter of recommendation and how do you go about writing one? We have all the information you need in this post, so read on! There are even a couple of sample letters that you can use for inspiration.
What is a letter of recommendation for an employee?
Similar to a reference letter, a letter of recommendation supports the employee's transition into a new role by verifying their skills, experience, and abilities. A reference letter is usually quite a general document, which the employee could use for any number of job applications. A recommendation letter, on the other hand, is usually tailored towards a specific job and showcases an individual's attributes in relation to that particular role.
How to write a letter of recommendation for an employee
There is certain information that will be expected in your letter. A good letter of recommendation for your employee will include:
Who you are, in relation to the applicant
The role that they held at your company
Skills that they have demonstrated that are relevant to the role they're applying for
A few of the applicant's successes, to prove they're qualified for the position
Confirmation that you recommend them for the role
Your contact details, in case of further enquiries
A sign off including your name and professional title
As a professional document, the letter should be formally presented, typed, and worded – a scrawl on a scrap of paper isn't acceptable.
Speak with your employee to see if there are any particular attributes that they'd like you to mention. Even better, ask for a copy of the job posting so that you can tailor your letter precisely to the requirements of the role.
How long should a letter of recommendation be?
You'll be pleased to know that no-one is expecting War and Peace here. Two or three paragraphs is generally enough – you certainly don't need to write more than a page. By the time a letter of recommendation is requested, it's likely that your employee is already nearing the end of the recruitment process and this final stage is simply confirmation that they can do what they claim and aren't leaving under a dark cloud.
What is the best wording for a letter of recommendation?
There's no right or wrong wording, as long as you keep it positive and truthful. Don't dwell on the employee's shortfalls, but instead focus on what they're good at – without exaggerating or going over the top! Keep the tone professional.
What should I do if the employee was less than stellar?
If you'll be glad to see the back of the employee, you really only have one option. As your mum always told you, if you can't say anything nice, it's best to say nothing at all. If you really feel that you can't fulfil the requirements of a letter of recommendation for an employee, it's best to politely decline. You can soften the blow by suggesting someone else that they can ask instead.
Sample letters of recommendation
Needing some inspiration? Take a look at these sample letters.
1 The Street,
3rd January 2022
To Whom it May Concern,
Fred Smith was employed at ABC Ltd as a Sales Assistant, where I had the pleasure of being his line manager. During his tenure, Fred was consistently courteous and respectful to both colleagues and customers.
He quickly developed an in-depth understanding of our products and processes, always meeting the required standards of customer care. By the end of his first year, he was recognised as our top salesperson in terms of volume sold and he frequently received positive feedback from customers. He's always willing to help and nothing is too much trouble for him. I found his timekeeping and reliability to be impeccable.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Fred for the role of Sales Team Leader at XYZ Plc. He is respected by colleagues and ready to step up into a leadership role. I am only sorry that we don't have an opening for him here.
Should you require further confirmation of Fred's suitability for your vacancy, please do not hesitate to contact me on 07891 012345.
Sales Manager at ABC Ltd
University of Learning
Faculty of English
25th December 2022
Dear Mrs Smith,
As Jane Mann's tutor at the University of Learning, I have been asked to write her a letter of recommendation for the role of Communications Assistant.
I have known Jane for three years, while she has studied towards a degree in English Language. Throughout this time, Jane has handed in every assignment ahead of the deadline and they have always been completed to a high standard. She is willing to participate in discussions and contributes sensible, well-thought-through ideas.
Jane's marks are strong and I was particularly pleased with her research project on medieval manuscripts, which showed a solid understanding of the topic. Her dedication, combined with the knowledge that she has acquired on this course, and her regular contributions to the Medieval Department newsletter, make her ideally suited to your vacancy in the museum communications team.
I am more than happy to recommend Jane for this role and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joan Chaucer, English Tutor and Head of Medieval Studies
Do you want to follow your employee?
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