References are essential considerations during the recruitment process as they give the employer insight into who the job applicant is as a person and in a professional capacity. The reference letter assesses the employee and their suitability and competence for a position they are applying for. As much as you’re not obligated to write the reference letter as an employer, it is considered an excellent professional gesture if the recommended was an excellent employee in your company.
Therefore, you will often ask for recommendation letters as an employer before hiring an individual. However, what do you do when it is your turn to recommend a former employee? This article will discuss the importance of your reference letter and how you can create a solid letter that adds substance to the employee’s application.
A reference letter from employer to employee is a letter you write on behalf of a former employee detailing notable experiences, strengths, and qualities that make them suitable candidates for a particular position they are applying for.
Types of Reference Letters
You can write a reference letter as an employer for various reasons. The letter’s purpose typically determines the type of reference letter you will write.
The different types of letters of reference you can write as an employer include:
The most popular type of reference letter is an employment reference type. This type of letter is written when the employee wants to apply for a job in another company. You can expect to write this letter for current and previous employees who want to seek employment opportunities in other organizations.
An employment reference can be used in other cases where the employee’s employment status or history must be verified. Examples of such circumstances are when the employee is applying for a loan, mortgage, or applying to rent a house. A reference letter will outline the designation, employment dates, salary, and noteworthy habits.
An academic reference is written when the employee wants to apply for a university or scholarship program. Such a reference letter highlights the employee’s skills, passion in the specific field of study, and noteworthy experiences during their tenure at your organization.
A character reference letter is written when a third-party assessment of the employee’s personality is needed, particularly when applying for a high-level position. The letter thus has to be written if you have an in-depth familiarity with the employee to give an exhaustive and accurate overview of their character.
Importance of Reference Letters from Employers
The letter’s objective should help the individual succeed with their application. The reference letter from the employer does this in different ways. Firstly, a reference letter is a powerful advocate for the employee. It highlights their strengths as a person and employee while also pointing out their past achievements. Having you, a third party, support the employee’s credentials increases their chances of getting hired more than candidates who only present a cover letter and resume.
A reference letter on its own is an indicator of the employee taking extra steps to secure the position they are applying for. This can help the employee stand out from other applicants. A reference letter is an account of an employee’s potential from a reliable source – that is, you as someone who has seen it first-hand.
Other than academic qualifications, most employers want to know what an employee brings to the table. A reference letter from an employer becomes an essential document in highlighting notable professional and personal experiences and relevant personality traits and work ethics. It adds personality to the employee’s application.
Format of Reference Letter
Formatting is a vital consideration when writing a reference letter from an employer. A business format should be used when recommending a former employee. The fundamental components of a well-formatted reference letter from the employer to the employee include:
The first section of the letter should be the header. The header should indicate your name, address, date, the recipient’s name, address, and a salutation, or you can use the company letterhead. If the letter is generic, it can be addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
Paragraph 1: Introduction
The next item on the reference letter should be an introduction where you introduce yourself and the letter’s purpose. The introduction should state your name, position in the company, relationship with the employee, company name, and who you are recommending. Additionally, details such as the position held by the former employee, length of employment should appear in the introduction.
Paragraph 2: Describe work performance and strengths
A second paragraph should be included in the letter of reference from the employer. This section should give detailed information on why the employee is suitable for the position they are applying for. For example, the paragraph can outline notable work performances/responsibilities, strengths, skills, traits, and reasons why the employee was a valuable asset in their former employment. Again, it would help focus on the positives but avoid exaggerating or misleading the recipient.
Paragraph 3: Closing
The reference letter from employer should also have a closing. In the closing, you should restate your support for the employee and the reason(s) in brief. You should include your contact information, too, should the recipient want to reach out. A formal sign-off should then be supplied.
Tip: Ask questions from employee beforehand
Proper preparation is imperative when writing a reference letter for a former employee. You can meet with the employee to obtain the necessary information to give a strong recommendation. You should find out the deadline for submitting the reference letter, the company and position the employee is applying for, the recipient’s name, the most relevant skills to the letter’s purpose, and any information they would like to be prioritized. You can prepare an outline and record the key points of your discussion in bullet points.
Writing a Reference Letter for Employee
Having a reference letter from an employer and writing a solid reference are two distinct but related aspects. However, you shouldn’t regret your decision to agree to recommend an employee. With the steps outlined below, you’re well-equipped as an employer to write a solid and impactful reference letter.
Relationship with the employee
Begin the reference letter by stating the nature of your relationship with the employee you are recommending. The nature of your relationship will usually contribute to the credibility of your endorsement. A more professional reference is valued than a reference from a personal acquaintance. You can also mention the length of this relationship.
Dates of employment
The next step is to indicate the dates when the employee started to work for you and their final day of employment. The longer you have worked with an employee, the more detailed and informative a reference letter from employer to employee will be. While the length of tenure is essential, do not exaggerate.
You should then state the position held by the employee in your company. The position does not have to be the exact position the employee is applying for. Sometimes they may be changing careers or getting promoted.
After that, you should mention the company where the employee held the position mentioned previously. Remember, you may have supervised the employee in another company other than your current place of employment. Hence, it would be best if you were keen not to confuse the two.
The letter should mention job responsibilities undertaken by the employee in their previous place of employment. When listing the responsibilities, prioritize the responsibilities relevant to the position or opportunity they are applying for.
Next, you should mention how the employee is qualified for the position. Qualifications are based on completed professional training. Therefore, you can mention any relevant certification, degree, or diploma.
Strengths and abilities
Afterward, it would be best to discuss the strengths and abilities of the employee at the workplace. It would help to tie strengths and abilities to specific experiences where the employee exhibits these qualities instead of listing them. Showing the outcome of applying the skill or ability is more persuasive than listing the skill.
Examples of qualities you can mention include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Effective leadership skills
- Dedicated to their career
- Consistent with the quality of work
Why you’re endorsing the individual
The next step is to let the recipient know why you’re endorsing the employee. This can be done through a confident statement of recommendation that declares that the employee is suitable for the job opening based on your assessment.
CTA for follow-ups
After a reassuring recommendation statement, invite the recipient to reach out if they have questions they would like answered. This can be communicated through a CTA (call to action) statement.
Lastly, you should supply your contact information at the bottom of the letter. You can supply an email address or phone number after your signature.
Reference Letter Template
[City, state, ZIP code]
[City, State ZIP code]
I’m [your name], a [title] at [company name]. Kindly accept this letter as my recommendation on behalf of [employee name] for the [position]. I interacted with [Recipient name] from [Dates of employment] when he/she worked as a [position] at [company name].
As a [job title], he/she was in charge of:
He/she undertook the duties assigned to him/her diligently and consistently produced satisfactory results.
[Recipient Name] is a qualified [profession] and is a holder of a master’s degree in [field of study]. He/she is excellent in [mention skills, strengths, and attributes]. He/she consistently proved to be an asset to the company by [mention an experience or achievement such as “being voted the “Employee of the Year” twice in a row.”]
I firmly believe [recipient name] is an excellent fit for the position, and given the opportunity, he/she will be a positive addition to your team. Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m available to answer any concerns or questions you may have.
Reference Letter Sample (from the Employer)
Tropic View Hotels
Coventry, NM 5501
February 6, 2022
The Pride Inn Hotel
45 Green Bay Ave
Gila, TX 6440
Dear Mr. Miles,
I’m the Head Chef at Tropical View Hotel, New Mexico, and I want to recommend Brandon Mings, who worked with me for two years – from January 2020 to November 2021 for the assistant chef position. He was my sous chef at Tropical View Hotel.
As my sous chef, he was responsible for preparing soups, specific desserts, ingredients, and the kitchen table. He is a reliable sous-chef who follows instructions properly. He has a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and a diploma in hospitality. However, his academic qualifications do not adequately reflect his skills in the kitchen. He has the potential of becoming a top-tier chef with additional experience, which I believe he can gain at The Pride Inn Hotel.
He is exceptionally gifted in British cuisines. Additionally, he is an excellent listener and communicator. He always asks for clarification where he does not understand.
His talent is irreplaceable, and I’d have loved to retain him as an employee. However, I am delighted to see him ambitious enough to seek a more senior position in your organization. I highly endorse his application and strongly urge you to grant him an opportunity to showcase his talents.
I’m available to provide any additional information you would like. Do not hesitate to reach out.
Reference letters from employers are highly valued tools in an employee’s application. As the recommender, you should therefore be aiming to write a great reference letter for your employee.
The tips presented below can help achieve this:
Keep your reference positive
You should write the reference letter in a positive tone. The letter should reflect the employee’s positive attributes. If you feel you don’t have enough positives to write a strong recommendation, it is best to decline the request to recommend the employee.
Tailor the recommendation to the job
A personalized reference letter usually has more weight than a generic letter. As the recommender, you should take the initiative to find out why the employee needs the reference. You should then tailor the letter to the specific purpose.
Be confident when writing about the employee
A reference letter should reflect your confidence in the capabilities of the person you are recommending. Any signs of self-doubt can throw off the hiring manager or admission committee. Remember, a reference is your professional assessment of the employee’s suitability, and therefore you cannot afford to be neutral – you’re either strongly recommending the employee or not.
Be specific with examples
The use of examples when highlighting skills, traits, work ethics, and experience is highly recommended when writing a reference letter for an employee. Examples are taken as substantial evidence of any claims you make.
Always keep the reference letter truthful. A dishonest letter can be termed as an attempt to mislead the person reviewing the employee’s application, negatively affecting your reputation and the employee’s application. Therefore, you should avoid exaggeration of details at all costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is not unusual to have a reference letter meant to be written and submitted under specific guidelines. For example, some organizations will have specific instructions for formatting, delivery method, word count, and file format in which the letter should be submitted. Therefore, it is imperative to ask the employee if there are any applicable instructions before writing the letter.
After being asked to write a reference letter from employer to employee, the first step is establishing whether you’re the right person. The fact that the employee worked under your supervision is insufficient justification for accepting the request. Next, you should decide whether you can confidently write a strong recommendation. If not, you can politely decline the request. If you are able and willing to endorse them, you can hold a meeting and collect all the information needed for the reference letter.