A Recommendation Letter from a Supervisor is a document written by a supervisor stating an employee’s qualifications for a specific job.
They are typically used to help a former employee seek a new opportunity. Recommendation letters contain positive statements about employees and provide details of the work they performed for the supervisor.
When a past or current employee searches for a new job, chances are they will be required to submit a recommendation letter, also known as a reference letter. These letters are written by a prior supervisor who had a positive experience with an employee. A quality letter will help a candidate move forward in the application process, as it will demonstrate their professional capabilities to the hiring manager. Reference letters help employers decide whether or not to interview a candidate because they contain important information about an employee’s strengths and skills. They outline the employee’s work performed, duration of employment, positions held, examples highlighting their positive attributes, and more.
Because recommendation letters can make or break a candidate’s job application, it is helpful to accept a former employee’s request for a letter if you had a positive experience working with them. However, a request should be denied if you cannot speak favorably of the candidate.
But, Why Should I Ask for One?
Without a quality recommendation letter, it may be impossible for a job candidate to score an interview, therefore leaving them no chance of being hired. A recommendation letter from a supervisor that is thoughtful, detailed, and positive easily catches the eye of a hiring manager. It may be the key to an interview for the job seeker. Because reference letters are typically collected at the start of a hiring process, they provide valuable information for potential employers in deciding who to interview. These employers have not yet met the candidates, and may only have non-personal information from a resume.
A recommendation letter from a supervisor gives insight into an employee’s personality. This helps the hiring manager to determine if the job seeker will align with their workplace culture. Resumes are great for highlighting specific work achievements, but a reference letter from a supervisor is more likely to showcase their work style.
Additionally, when you accept the request to write a reference letter from a supervisor, you are endorsing a candidate. This shows a hiring manager that the candidate has formed positive relationships with other professionals in the past. A reference letter from a supervisor will also support the job seeker by illustrating work-related achievements more vividly than is possible in a resume. For these reasons, a good reference letter indicates to a potential employer that the candidate is worth interviewing as they could hopefully bring similar accomplishments to a new workplace.
When you put in the effort to write a recommendation letter from a supervisor, it doesn’t just benefit the employee and their possible future employer. It can be a networking tool that helps you strengthen relationships in your field. Writing a reference letter is a big favor, and there’s a chance you will need a favor in return from the employees you support by supplying recommendations. Also, they’re more likely to speak favorably of you and your leadership as they progress in their career.
How to Write a Recommendation Letter
It can be overwhelming if you’ve never written a recommendation letter for an employee before. Reference letters are complicated because they require a lot of information within a small space. Recommendation letters from a supervisor are also subject to professional formatting guidelines. However, learning to write a recommendation letter is worthwhile and a kind gesture for an employee who’s performed quality work for you.
Follow the guide below for step-by-step instructions on writing an effective recommendation letter from a supervisor:
1. Add header
The header of a reference letter from a supervisor follows formal business letter formatting. Start with your name, address, and contact information.
1234 Main St.
Center Town, NY 12345
1.1. Add date
Underneath your information, write the date you are sending the letter with the month spelled out, the numerical data, and the year.
April 10th, 2021
1.2. Add receiver’s detail
After the date, conclude the header with the name, title, business name, and address of the receiver. For example:
Director of Customer Service
1234 Main St.
Business Town, NY, 1234
2. Write a salutation
Reference letters are typically addressed to a specific person. In this case, the proper salutation is “Dear (last name):”. However, if you do not have an individual recipient, you may write “To Whom It May Concern:”.
3. Give Introduction
The introduction of a recommendation letter from a supervisor should not be very long. Its purpose is to let the reader know who is writing to them and why.
3.1. State the intent of the letter
Start the letter off with a clear statement of why you are writing the letter. It should be clear from the first sentence that this is a recommendation.
“It is my great pleasure to recommend Sarah Smith for the role of customer service director at White Manufacturers.”
3.2. Briefly introduce yourself
It is essential to let the recipient know your role and how you are connected to the person you’re recommending.
“I have supervised Sarah Smith in the customer service department for five years, and she has continually impressed me with her patience, determination, and interpersonal skills.”
The body of a reference letter from a supervisor should detail why the candidate is recommended for the role. This can be done by following the steps given below:
4.1. Give details of your relationship with the candidate
It’s a good idea to start the body paragraph by clarifying exactly how your roles interacted in the workplace. Did you directly oversee them throughout their career, or did you supervise them on a project? If you haven’t already, clarify how long you have worked with the candidate.
“As sales director, I supervised Dave for 3 years as he served in the position of sales representative.”
4.2. Enlist candidate’s academic and professional achievements
Highlight any of the candidate’s specific accomplishments that could be relevant to their future role. If possible, quantify the effect the candidate had.
“Jason fundraised $1,000 dollars for…”.
4.3. Provide a list of their relevant skills and attributes
Describe the candidate in terms of their skills and traits that will serve them in their future role.
“Alex is a hardworking and talented coder.”
Tip: If you’re not sure what to highlight in an employee’s reference letter, think about their role in your workplace and the position they are seeking. There is likely some overlap between the work performed in both roles. It’s best to write about skills they possess that they will use for their next employer.
4.4. Give examples
A recommendation letter from a supervisor shouldn’t sound like a bulleted list of positive qualities. Using specific examples that showcase a candidate’s achievements helps bring their personality to life for the hiring manager in ways a resume cannot. You only need to reference a few accomplishments to write a great recommendation letter.
For example, if you want to showcase their leadership, talk about a time when the candidate led a new project. Just be sure that the examples line up with skills that are transferable to the new position. An example will not contribute much to a reference letter if it is not relevant to the job description. To start, think about the candidate’s skills that had a tangible effect on your company.
“Ashley used her talent for graphic design to make eye-catching and engaging social media content that increased our following by 200% in 3 months.”
Tip: Try to use at least two examples to ensure your letter doesn’t sound like a checklist. However, be sure that your examples describe skills and achievements that would be relevant to their future workplace.
The closing of a recommendation letter from a supervisor should not be lengthy. Simply re-state your recommendation, provide contact information, and sign your name.
I am confident that Sarah Smith would succeed in the role of customer service director at your company. Please feel free to contact me at 321-654-1987 with any further questions. I am happy to speak more about Sarah’s past work and qualifications for the role.
Matt Ryan (signature)
Samples Recommendation Letters By Supervisor
Following are a few professionally crafted samples for you:
July 3, 2018
Mrs. Shelly Griffin
Bob & Sons Enterprises.
3080 X Street, CA
Dear Mrs. Shelly,
I take immense pleasure in recommending Laura White for the secretarial post at Bob & Sons Enterprises. I have worked with Laura for ten years at TXJ Company Ltd. as her supervisor. She diligently offered her services as a Secretary to keep the business in a buzz of production. I believe that her zeal will ensure positive growth in your Company.
As the Secretary, Laura was an exceptional support system. She always scheduled appointments with her time management abilities. She organized her duties and always communicated all vital information to the clients. Above all, Laura had the initiative and self-drive which was good for business. Her honesty and professionalism were admirable.
Unfortunately, Laura is forced to relocate to Los Angeles and be with her family. We are in a tight position losing one of our best employees. Nonetheless, I am confident that her services will be better-felt in your organization.
I strongly recommend Laura for the position as a Secretary. I am confident that she is proficient in her duties. Please reach me if you have any questions regarding Laura’s conduct and work.
July 3, 2018
Mr. Troy Gold
G & S Restaurant.
335 X Street, CA
Dear Mr. Gold,
I wish to recommend Alex Mendes for the role of Pastry Chef at G & S Restaurant. I have supervised Alex at Subs and Sands restaurant where he was the Assistant Pastry Chef. I am sure that his talent and hard work will be of significant advantage to G & S Restaurant.
Alex is an extensively skilled chef who portrays his art in his baking. He manages the day to day activities in the pastry and bakery. He has adorned our kitchen with creative pastry ideas and designs. Alex is excellent with customers and not to mention an exemplary teacher.
It is with dire regret that we have to let go of our top-notch Pastry Chef. He needs to relocate due to lack of growth opportunities on our end.
I am glad to recommend Alex for the available Pastry Chef position. I am convinced that he will deliver as per your expectations and even better. Please contact me if you have any concerns about Alex.
How Can a Supervisor Write an Effective Recommendation Letter
Using a template or looking at some samples is a great way to ensure your recommendation letter is effective. However, there are some additional strategies you may find useful in the writing process.
Review the following tips to ensure you’re writing a high-quality reference letter:
Research company policy
Make sure you consult any company policy regarding reference letters before starting the writing process. There may be restrictions on what you can include in a letter. For example, some companies dictate who can write reference letters and if you must go through human resources.
Recommendation letters are not the place to give criticism. It is best to accept the request to write a recommendation letter from a supervisor only if you have positive things to say about the candidate. Accepting the request when you’re dissatisfied can risk you a defamation lawsuit.
A negative reference letter will also waste both parties’ time as it will only hurt the job-seekers prospects. Even if you think highly of the candidate, it’s worthwhile to proofread your letter for negative statements. While it’s certainly legal to make evidence-based statements, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tailor the recommendation to the job
Generic recommendation letters that could be applied to any role are usually ineffective. Make sure you reference the position the candidate is seeking and emphasize the qualities you have observed that make them a good match. It will help to retrieve the job listing from the candidate and see what they are looking for.
For example, you may have witnessed the candidate’s proficiency in a program they will use in the role. Additionally, naming the company in the letter will help show you aren’t recycling a broad letter. If they’re seeking a higher-level position than the one they held at your company, discuss the qualities that make them ready for the upgrade; not just the qualities that made them great at their previous job.
Speak to the employee before writing
Most of the time, you will not need to spend much effort thinking about what to put in a recommendation letter, as the employee likely already has an idea of what they would like you to say. Speaking to the employee beforehand will give you a better idea of how they are marketing themselves to the company and why they think they’re a good fit.
Meet up with the candidate and ask them about the role they’re applying to and the skills and accomplishments they’d like you to highlight, as well as their biggest accomplishments with your company. It’s also a good idea to ask about deadlines and get the name of the hiring manager.
Lastly, it can be helpful to look at the employee’s application, resume, or cover letter to see how a recommendation letter from a supervisor can supplement those materials.
Look at the employee’s job record
It can also be useful to review the candidate’s job record. For example, your company may have stored some notes written by you or other employees. It would be especially helpful to locate coworkers who may have more information or get some ideas if you did not oversee the job-seeker directly.
It’s important, to tell the truth when writing a reference letter from a supervisor. Lies can be obvious and easily disproved. Also, it’s not fair to the other candidates. If you feel like you would not be able to write a positive letter telling the complete truth, it’s better to decline the request.
A recommendation letter from a supervisor is a formal business letter, so it’s best to make sure the tone isn’t too casual. Keep in mind that the letter will likely be read and filled by a hiring manager in your field, so an unprofessional letter can hurt your networking prospects.
Explain why your opinion matters
Make sure you highlight your role and relationship with the candidate at the beginning of your recommendation letter. The recipient must know that the letter is coming from a professional and reputable source, not a friend. This will help ensure that the hiring manager values your opinion.
Start the letter with enthusiasm
The beginning of your letter should show that you are enthusiastic about the candidate. Open with a strong statement of recommendation. For example, instead of writing “I recommend James for the role of…,” you can write, “It is with much enthusiasm that I recommend James for the role of…“.
An improperly formatted reference letter from a supervisor is unprofessional. The basic format is a heading with the sender and recipient’s information, a salutation, 3-5 paragraphs that fit on one page, and a conclusion that includes your contact information. Looking at sample reference letters or templates will help you make sure you’re using the correct formatting.
Read through your letter at least three times to ensure you did not leave any errors. It’s helpful to have a coworker look over it as well. Additionally, reading the letter aloud will help you make sure the letter sounds natural, yet professional.
Follow the submission guidelines
Make sure to record the deadline, the name of the hiring manager, and the delivery method given by your employee. The letter may be emailed, mailed, or submitted on another website. A late letter may hurt the candidate’s chances of getting accepted.
Impressive recommendation letters matter to job candidates, but they can be tricky to write. However, if you keep this guide in mind, you will find it can be quite simple to write a recommendation letter from a supervisor. Start the letter with a strong recommendation statement and end with contact information for follow-up.
The most important tips include using business formatting, writing positive statements, and including at least two specific examples. In addition, be sure to include the employee’s role in their previous job, the length of their employment, and the skills/accomplishments they displayed at your company. If you put in the effort, you could play an essential role in scoring a coworker an amazing new opportunity.