Why are recommendation letters important?
Before diving into the recommendation letter samples, let’s consider what role recommendation letters play in the job application process. Why do hiring managers ask for letters of recommendation? What purpose do reference letters serve?
Powerfully advocate for the job seeker
Well for one, you can powerfully advocate for a candidate in your letter. By throwing your support behind them, the hiring manager will see that this person has successfully worked with a boss or colleague in the past.
Add personality to a job application
Your letter can also help personalize someone’s application. A hiring manager might read through lots of resumes, but your letter will help the candidate come to life by shedding light on their personality and work style.
Point out past achievements
By discussing specific achievements a candidate has made, you can also help prove the job seeker will make similar accomplishments in the future. They say past behavior points to future behavior, so sharing anecdotes in your letter will help the hiring manager see what the job seeker would be like if they got hired.
Help the job seeker get hired
If you write a generic, vague letter, it might not do much to sway a hiring manager’s opinion. Or it could easily be outshined by someone else’s letter of recommendation, where the writer took the time to get personal and specific.
What to Include in an Employee Reference Letter
Include your contact information and the recipient’s name at the top of the letter for a printed or upload letter. List your contact information in your signature when you’re sending an email.
If you are writing a personal letter of reference, include a salutation (Dear Dr. Jennings, Dear Ms. Calavan, etc.). If you are writing a general reference letter, say “To Whom It May Concern” or start with the first paragraph of the letter.
Explain why the person you are recommending is qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. Be sure to use specific examples to speak to their qualifications.
Provide a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. State that you “recommend without reservation” or “strongly recommend” the person or something similar.
Include your phone number and email address in the return address section of a hard copy letter or, if you’re sending an email, list your contact information under your name in the signature.
How to Write a Perfect—and Personalized—Letter of Recommendation (Template and Example Included!)
Of course, it’s flattering to be asked to draft a recommendation letter. But on the other hand, you have to admit that you’re dreading it. Your schedule’s already packed, and this is just one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list.
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Add to that, reference letters can be a challenge to whip up—particularly when you want to craft something that’s well-written, personalized, and truly does that person justice to a hiring manager.
But stress no more! Writing a recommendation letter for an employee no longer needs to send you into a tailspin, thanks to our easy-to-follow format and guide. (Need to write someone a LinkedIn recommendation? Get advice for that here.)
First things first, you need to know why you’re being asked to write the recommendation letter. Are you writing a letter of recommendation for academic reasons, a personal character reference, a new job, or something else? If the recommendee hasn’t already provided you information about what they need the letter for, ask them to supply you with the following:
A good recommendation letter includes three main points: your relationship with the person you’re recommending, observations and evaluations of their work, and why they are qualified for the position.
- Establish how you worked together and for how long in a sentence or two. Did they report to you? Were they your boss? Did you work in different departments, but collaborated closely on a project?
- Evaluate the candidate’s work, focusing on their strengths and applying it to the position they’re seeking. For example, if they’re seeking a management position, showcase their leadership skills. Highlight tangible successes that can be quantified, detailing an increase in sales or how effective they were at managing budgets and/or people.
- Describe how they stood out from the rest of their colleagues and use specific examples that support your case, whether it’s taking the initiative on a complex project or spearheading a new company-wide program. Concrete anecdotes will create a lasting impression. If you can, it’s nice to seal the deal with a comparison, such as saying they’re “the most effective salesperson I’ve ever worked with” or “one of the top two employees I’ve ever managed”—as long as that’s true, of course!
Still not sure what to say? Our basic template will show you how to write a letter of recommendation that not only is personalized, but highlights why your colleague should get the position they are seeking.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with [Name], and came to know [him/her/them] as a truly valuable asset to our team. [He is/She is/They are] honest, dependable, and incredibly hardworking. Beyond that, [he is/she is/they are] an impressive [soft skill] who is able to [result].
[His/her/their] knowledge of [specific subject] and expertise in [specific subject] was a huge advantage to our entire office. [He/she/they] put this skill set to work in order to [specific achievement].
Along with [his/her/their] undeniable talent, [Name] has always been an absolute joy to work with. [He is/she is/they are] a true team player, and always foster[s] positive discussions and bring[s] the best out of other employees.
Without a doubt, I confidently recommend [Name] to join your team at [Company]. As a dedicated and knowledgeable employee and an all-around great person, I know that [he/she/they] will be a beneficial addition to your organization.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Joanne and came to know her as a truly valuable asset to our team. She is honest, dependable, and incredibly hardworking. Beyond that, she is an impressive problem solver who is able to address complex issues strategically and confidently. Joanne is inspired by challenges and never intimidated by them.
Her knowledge of sales etiquette and expertise in cold calling was a huge advantage to our entire office. Not only did she put this skill set to work, but she also led a series of training sessions on cold calling with the team—increasing our total sales by over 18% in just one quarter. I know that Joanne was a huge piece of our success.
Along with her undeniable talent, Joanne has always been an absolute joy to work with. She is a true team player, and always fosters positive discussions and brings the best out of other employees.
Without a doubt, I confidently recommend Joanne to join your team at The Sales Company. As a dedicated and knowledgeable employee and an all-around great person, I know that she will be a beneficial addition to your organization.