You hate that the employee is leaving, but you want to help him in his professional career; writing a recommendation letter could help you move forward.
When you write an employee recommendation letter, sometimes referred to as a reference letter, you are essentially vouching for them. Potential employers will have a good idea about the education, skills, and experience a job applicant brings to the table based on what is presented on their resume. Your letter of recommendation highlights specific job traits or successes that person had under your direction.
But how do you write a recommendation letter for your former employee? What is the best wording? Are there specific details that need to be included in your letter? Without further ado, let’s dive into how to write a recommendation letter for a star employee.
What should a recommendation letter contain?
There are a few things, six things to be exact, that should always appear in any reference letter you write.
- The title of the position you held at your company: Try to reflect that title in the job you are looking for now, if possible.
- How long have you known the person: If you knew them outside of work, go ahead and add that time period as well, but specify which period was work and which was personal.
- What the employee did in your company: his key responsibilities
- Some achievements: things that person did to improve processes, save money or reduce work hours, for example.
- Something you will miss about having the employee around
- Your contact information, in case the hiring manager wants to contact you
What to do if you can’t write the letter
If you can’t write a letter that contains these six elements, you better refuse to write one. Keep it professional and let the employee know that you don’t have enough details to write a reference letter that will serve them well. It’s better to disappoint your employee than have them wait for a letter of recommendation that will never arrive. It gives the candidate time to move on to the next person they want to ask.
Here is a sample letter of recommendation for an employee.
Now that you’ve seen what should be included and have decided to write one, take the time to write it yourself. Avoid asking the job applicant to write a letter for you to sign. Remember, you are not writing a book on employee greatness. Keep the letter to one page and only choose the most outstanding performance to include in the letter.
123 Main Street
To whom It May Concern*, [*Try to use a person’s name, if possible]
Re: Letter of recommendation for Jane Smith
I have had the great pleasure of managing Jane Smith for the past three years, in the role of Software Engineer. I am the Director of Information Technology at XYZ Company.
Jane was assigned the task of debugging programs during system integrations, to solve internal and customer-facing challenges. Along the way, she found a way to automate a billing process that reduced a 15-hour process to two hours. Jane picks up on new processes faster than almost anyone I know.
He was also instrumental in implementing new technologies ahead of schedule and under budget. While Jane’s software engineering skills are impressive, I was also impressed by her unmatched ability to see the bigger situational picture of any given task, to find a way around challenges. On top of that, she was a role model to other employees, always emulating positivity and encouraging success in others.
Jane is sure to be a great asset to your team. Please feel free to contact me if she would like more details on her skills, abilities or accomplishments.
Information Technology Director
Don’t forget to recommend the employee through LinkedIn
Taking into account that approximately 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, another way to extol the virtues of your employee is through a recommendation on LinkedIn. There are two ways to recognize someone’s skills through their LinkedIn profile. That’s through endorsements and recommendations:
This is the easiest way to raise your employee’s profile. Go to their skill list and click the “Approve” button. The best thing about endorsements is that they are fast and you can endorse multiple skills with just a few mouse clicks.
Just below the skills list on LinkedIn is a place to write a letter of recommendation. This is no different than a real letter, as it will use the same verbiage, it just won’t appear in letter format, it’s just a paragraph.
Here is a sample recommendation note that you can use on LinkedIn:
I worked with Jane for three years. She joined XYZ Company to debug software for system integrations. Along the way, Jane discovered a way to automate billing that saved 13 hours on a single task. I have never seen anyone grasp new concepts as quickly as Jane. She is not only able to overcome challenges quickly, but she does it with a smile and a positive attitude. This, of course, encourages her colleagues to be more positive. I would have no qualms about recommending Jane for a position in the software engineering field. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more details on her accomplishments at XYZ Company.
There’s no need to add an introduction or close with a signature, as LinkedIn will include a header in the recommendation that links to your own profile.
Writing a recommendation letter is a great way to let your employee know how much you appreciate the wonderful things they did for your company. Being recommended by a former leader helps them get their foot in the door of a new company.