A recommendation letter for an employee is an important part of the hiring process — many businesses request them from former employees when evaluating potential new workers. They provide verification of an applicant’s work or academic experience. Recommendation letters for an employee are usually written by managers or former supervisors — individuals who have had direct contact with the employee in question.
A well-constructed recommendation letter for an employee includes specific information — details describing why the writer is qualified to evaluate the employee being discussed. It should also explain how the writer knows the person being evaluated and provide information about the employee’s best qualities along with specific examples. If information about the new position is available, letter writers often directly address the employee’s ability to fulfill the new position’s requirements, most often with the use of examples.
Who Can Write An Recommendation Letter for an Employee?
A recommendation letter for an employee should preferably be written by a direct supervisor — someone in a position to have observed the employee’s work for an extended period of time. Family members, colleagues, or neighbors can be tapped for more personal references. Teachers and mentors often write letters for new graduates who lack extensive work experience. And colleagues, vendors, and clients are all appropriate references for freelancers. Anyone who writes a recommendation letter for an employee needs to be well enough acquainted with the person about whom they are writing to discuss specific work-related qualities and provide relevant examples.
There are several factors to take into consideration before deciding to write a recommendation letter for an employee.
Think before you agree to write
If you are in a position to provide an employee or former employee with a positive recommendation letter for an employee, it is generally a good practice to do so. On the other hand, if you do not feel comfortable fully endorsing the employee in question’s abilities, it is best to tell the individual that you are not in a position to provide a recommendation. This is also true if you do not feel you have enough information to evaluate someone accurately.
Make sure to ask about your company’s policy regarding references — some businesses have policies limiting supervisors’ ability to write references for employees or have specific rules regarding what information can be disclosed, by whom, and under what circumstances. Remember that your recommendation letter for an employee needs to be personalized and demonstrate with specificity how the candidate demonstrates the skills and abilities required by the new position.
Collect information about the former employee
After making a decision about whether or not to write a recommendation letter for an employee, your next step is to begin gathering information. Ask the employee to provide you with a copy of the job posting to get started, then find out as much information as you can about the position to which the employee is applying. If a specific job advertisement is not available, the employee should provide you with general information about the type of job they are interested in.
A CV or resume will provide you with basic information about the person’s education and employment you can refer to when personalizing your letter. Use the information you collect to create a recommendation letter for an employee that provides specific examples of the employee demonstrating the soft skills and abilities required for the desired position.
Writing The Recommendation Letter for an Employee
Now the question is, how to write a recommendation letter for an employee? Most recommendation letters for an employee include the following parts — an introduction, two or three paragraphs, and a conclusion. Aim for conciseness — one page is plenty for most letters of recommendation.
Start with the fundamentals — make sure the recommendation letter for an employee contains basics such as your contact information, the reason you are writing, and an appropriate salutation. It should also discuss your qualifications, how you know the person you are writing about, and a clear statement of the reason you are writing.
Mr. David Jones
45 Blue Sofa Ave.
San Diego, CA 90201
Dear Mr. Jones,
I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Martin Wong. I believe he would be a wonderful addition to Apex’s legal department as a junior competition attorney. As head of Progoven’s legal department, I have had the pleasure of supervising and working with Martin for over five years. I have been repeatedly impressed with the depth and thoroughness of Martin’s legal research and writing skills. In addition, he brings a wonderful spirit of cooperation and dedication to his work that makes him an ideal colleague, one who I am sure will contribute positively to your company.
Body paragraph I
The first paragraph of your recommendation letter for an employee needs to include a discussion of one of the employee’s qualities or attributes. It should also have a discussion of the specific reasons why you are recommending the candidate, along with an example. Try to limit this first paragraph to between four and six sentences.
Martin’s legal research and writing abilities were on full display last year when he led the team that drafted the Motion to Cease and Desist. We filed asking the 3rd court of appeals to enjoin FireSale Co. from continuing to sell goods in violation of our copyright. The motion he and his team composed was submitted to the court within 24 hours of receiving the copyright violation report, demonstrating Martin’s dedication to being a strong team player. As a result of Martin’s legal and leadership abilities, Progoven won an immediate injunction that protected the reputation of one of our company’s core brands.
Body paragraph II
In the second paragraph of your recommendation letter for an employee, concentrate on the employee’s personality. Provide an anecdote involving the candidate that draws attention to one of their personal qualities you would like to emphasize. This is also the place to discuss any relevant hard or soft skills.
Martin is a wonderful mentor and colleague who gets along well with judges, opposing counsel as well as his co-workers. His strong interpersonal skills have saved difficult negotiations on several occasions. For example, last year, a colleague was having trouble working with a particular opposing counsel — he asked Martin for advice. As a result, Martin spent hours reviewing the case and mentoring the younger attorney.
Ultimately, an agreement with opposing counsel was reached, in part due to Martin’s ability to work well with a variety of people and personality types. In addition, the younger attorney Martin mentored specifically mentioned his appreciation for Martin’s help during his annual review.
End the recommendation letter for an employee with a concluding paragraph. This section should include a statement of the purpose of your letter, a final statement endorsing the candidate, and your contact information. Finally, wrap up with a statement inviting the reader to contact you if they would like additional information. To prevent any confusion, make sure to explicitly state that you are “highly” recommending the employee.
In conclusion, thank you for the opportunity to submit this letter of recommendation on Martin’s behalf. I strongly support Martin’s application for a junior legal advisor at Apex. Martin is a skilled attorney with a wealth of legal research, and writing experience who I am confident will contribute positively to your company. He is also a wonderful, empathetic, helpful colleague who we here at Progoven will miss.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need more information about Martin to make a decision. I can be reached by phone at (202) 573-4837 or by email at [email protected].
Salutation and signature
End with a salutation such as best or sincerely, and do not forget to add your signature. Typed names are fine if you are sending your letter electronically. However, sign the letter with a blue or black pen if you plan to send a printed letter.
Below is an example of an appropriate signature block for an electronic recommendation letter for an employee:
Head of Legal
Letter Format Vs. Email Format
There are slightly different formatting conventions for references sent by mail and those submitted via email. Most email programs do not facilitate the inclusion of headers, so if you are sending your reference electronically, do not include address paragraphs — put your contact information after your salutation and name instead.
Follow business letter format and use a subject for your email, such as Martin Wong — Reference for Junior Legal Advisor, to notify the recipient of the communication’s purpose. Contact information should be included in the return address section of printed letters. If you send a printed recommendation letter for an employee, do not forget to provide your phone number and email address.
Sample Recommendation Letters for an Employee
Below you will find three sample recommendation letters for an employee. Feel free to download a sample recommendation letter for an employee to use as a guide.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am delighted to strongly recommend Jane Doe for a position as a customer service representative for B&L International.
My name is Randal Catnew, and I am a customer service supervisor at Waterfall Unlimited Industries. I have over 20 years of experience in customer service and have been a supervisor at Waterfall for the past 11 years. Among the employees I have supervised, Jane Doe stands out for her efficiency and outstanding interpersonal skills.
Over the five years that I have supervised Jane, she has consistently met or exceeded all performance goals, including performance management indicators for satisfactorily completed customer communication events. I have also been extremely impressed with Jane’s dedication to improving her skills — she completed an internal leadership course last year and has been effectively implementing the skills she learned by mentoring younger employees.
In addition, I simply cannot say enough about Jane’s interpersonal skills — her ability to remain calm when dealing with upset customers has made her one of the most valuable members of my team. Soon after I began supervising Jane, I received a panicked call from a young customer service agent. I was in the middle of addressing another situation and was therefore unable to provide assistance personally.
Jane noticed her younger colleague’s distress and immediately stepped in. The entire situation was resolved within minutes, thanks to Jane’s social skills and initiative. The customer even wrote a nice letter describing how helpful Jane had been. These same skills make Jane a wonderful colleague to work with — she is an absolute favorite in the break room and among supervisors.
While I will miss Jane, I am absolutely sure that she will be an excellent fit for B&L International. I am confident she will be an asset to your company and quickly appreciate her colleagues.
If you need more information, please feel free to contact me at 556-133-4577 or by email at [email protected].
Customer Service Supervisor
Waterfall Unlimited Industries
Subject: Recommendation for Jane Doe
Dear Ms. Williams,
I am delighted to recommend Jane Doe for employment with B&L International as an administrative assistant. I have known Jame for more than six years, during which I supervised her work as an administrative assistant in my division. Jane has consistently been one of our best performers and is a delight to work with. I simply cannot recommend her highly enough as a colleague and a person.
Jane’s efficiency during the time that I have worked with her has always impressed me. For example, for the past two years, Jane has been responsible for the timely filing of all shipping manifests produced throughout our international company — she not only managed to complete all her assignments on time but also worked with colleagues to develop a system that saved our division over 1000 hours of work last quarter.
Jane is both very bright, motivated, and a great communicator. I am confident that she will be an absolute asset to your organization due to her ability to quickly master new tasks and eagerness to progress in her career. Her written and verbal communication skills are outstanding.
Jane’s written reports are so well constructed that she is my go-to person when communicating with headquarters. I regularly ask Jane to speak with other division heads on my behalf because of my high level of confidence in her soft skills and deep understanding of our division’s processes.
It gives me great pleasure to recommend Jane without reservation. I am sure that she will be a wonderful colleague and employee. Please let me know if you need additional information. I can be reached by phone at 828-590-5788. I am also available by email — [email protected].
Sept 21, 2021
Mr. David Jones
222 Brown Street
Washington, DC 20405
Dear Mr. Jones,
I am pleased to recommend John Doe for the position of project manager at L.B. International. I have supervised John and observed his work as a project manager in the life sciences division for more than five years. I can confidently say that I consider him one of the best employees I have ever had the pleasure of working with. John brings an impressive amount of dedication and organization to his work that makes him an absolute joy to work with and supervise.
John has a wealth of research and publishing experience that he effectively uses to keep the projects he is in charge of on track. For example, last year, three of our manufacturing facilities ran into difficulty meeting production quotas.
John quickly resolved the situation thanks to his unique combination of project management experience and understanding of the scientific processes involved in manufacturing our products. His quick work and practical problem solving kept the company from shutting down production on that product line, saving us over 10 million dollars.
John is also a wonderful colleague and mentor. He has a warm personality and positively contributes to our office culture by consistently working with others to solve problems. As a result, he is highly sought after as a mentor — at least five of his former mentees are working in higher-level management positions here at L.B. International.
John has been a pleasure to work with and supervise, and it gives me great pleasure to endorse his candidacy without reservations. My telephone number is 303-292-4584, and my email address is david.j[email protected]. Please let me know if you have any questions.
To whom it may concern,
It is my great pleasure to write this recommendation letter for Miss. Bernard Kate. I would highly recommend Miss. Bernard Kate to work as a manager in your company. At our company, Bernard worked as manager after being promoted many times from 2002-2015. In these 13 years, her skills were always admirable with both what she did and how well she did it.
Miss. Bernard was of utmost importance to our organization. Her verbal communication skills really stand out, motivating the whole of the workforce. She is also very punctual, with only four times in 13 years that she has been late. Some other fantastic features about her are, she’s great at multitasking, independently working, and talking to customers.
She was so great at verbal communication that I let her create a listening program for our interns; later, it was concluded that the course helped them a lot, with an 87% improvement rating. This tested her abilities, but she came through, as ever.
Miss. Bernard was never defiant towards orders and was always willing to stay after work if we needed more of her assistance. She has had excellent reports from both of our owners, mainly for verbal communication, which are perfect for your job requirements.
Miss. Bernard will be a great worker for any company, and I honestly recommend Miss. Bernard to dive into any adventure she wants to. Please contact me on any of the following contacting methods for further questions.
Following are some free downloadable ‘recommendation letters for an employee’ templates for you:
Extra Professional Tips
Following are some extra tips for writing a recommendation letter for an employee:
Focus on the job description
Before you start writing, ask the candidate to provide you with a copy of the job description. Use the information provided as a basis for discussing how the employee meets the position’s required skills and responsibilities. If you do not have a specific job description to work from, write about how the candidate’s skills and abilities meet the general requirements for the type of job they are applying for.
Include specific examples
Include detailed examples showing the candidate’s mastery of specific skills. Make sure to include examples drawn from personal observation and experience and include numbers to strengthen your argument if possible.
Make it clear that you support your employee’s candidacy. For example, “I highly recommend John Doe.” Begin your letter with strong statements of support such as “I highly recommend John Doe for the position of a legal advisor” to get things started positively. End your recommendation letter for an employee with a similar endorsement, so the reader is left with a positive sentiment.
Share your contact information
Do not forget to include your contact information along with an invitation to get in touch if more information is needed. In addition, your email address and telephone number should be included at the end of any electronic recommendation letter for an employee.
Follow the submission guidelines
Many companies have requirements for recommendation letter submissions. Follow up with the person for whom you are writing the recommendation letter for an employee and ask if you need to follow any special submission rules. For example, see if there is a specific person to whom the recommendation letter for an employee should be addressed, confirm the address to which the reference should be submitted, and double-check to see if the company has a format preference — some businesses prefer to receive physical letters. In contrast, others will only review referrals submitted electronically.
Use a standard business letter format and tone
Recommendation letters for an employee should be concise and written in business letter format. Keep your tone formal and polite.
Focus on the most important qualifications
Highlight two or three of the candidate’s most relevant achievements to their desired position and provide examples demonstrating these skills in action. Concentrate on the qualifications that are most relevant for the employee’s desired job.
Recommendation Letters for an Employee give hiring managers relevant information about job candidates. Good reference letters are personal, provide detailed information about your relationship with the employee, describe opportunities you had to observe the employee’s work, and offer plenty of examples linking the candidate’s current work to the skills needed in their desired position.