When one of your employees requests a formal recommendation, it can be difficult to know where to start. These letters should describe the employee's skills, responsibilities, attitude and performance. Before you begin writing this letter, understand the basic structure of a letter of recommendation, as well as how to convey your feelings about the person requesting the letter. It's also helpful to discuss the prospective job with the employee; this will help guide you as you write your letter.
Keep the letter formal by beginning it with a full heading that includes the date and the name and address of the company that will be receiving the letter. If the employee provides you with a specific name to address the letter to, include that information in the heading and in your greeting. If you don't know who will be reading the letter, use "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam."
Begin with an introduction that clarifies your relationship to the employee. Your first sentence should state your purpose; for example, "I am writing this recommendation at the request of (name)." Also included in the introduction should be how long you've known the employee, as well as that person's position with your company.
Detail the employee's work history with your company in the next paragraph or two. Begin with a short description of his job, including the main responsibilities for that position, as well as any promotions or special projects given to him. Use descriptive words to accurately describe the employee's work ethic and attitude, such as "confident," "decisive," "hesitant" or "enthusiastic." Demonstrate his performance by using examples of his accomplishments or mistakes. Include helpful information like his best skills and whether he worked well as part of a team.
Use the conclusion to give a clear picture of whether you recommend the employee or not. Phrases like "I am therefore very pleased to be able to recommend (name)" or "Though I very much respect (name), I am unsure if he/she is the right individual for this particular position" are both direct yet professional. If you feel comfortable doing so, you may also include your phone number or email address if the potential employer would like to contact you with questions. Use a formal closing, such as "Sincerely, (your name)," followed by your title, credentials and name of your company.
Print the letter on your company's letterhead. Place it in an envelope and either give it back to the employee or mail it directly to the employer, depending on the employee's request. You may want to keep a copy in the employee's file for future reference.
Tips & Warnings
- Be honest in your recommendation. Don't be afraid to let the employer know if this employee did not perform up to standards while working for your company. If the employer hires the individual and they don't perform well, it will reflect badly on you for giving an inaccurate picture of the employee's work.
- Ask the employee if he is willing to discuss the position for which he's applying. This may help you tailor the letter to that position because it will tell you which skills, accomplishments or character traits the employer may want to know about.
- Remember not to give out information that isn't appropriate for a potential employer to ask about before someone is hired. This includes personal information, like how many children the employee has and where he lives.
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