Easy Steps to Create a Killer Reference Letter

There are several occasions in a manager’s career where writing a recommendation letter comes into play. It may be when a stellar employee moves out of state and asks for your help when they’re looking for a new job. It may be a layoff situation for an employee you would prefer not to let go but budget concessions have you making the tough decisions. Or your company may be closing and everyone is moving on to new positions. In any case, writing a great reference letter is an important management skill. It not only helps your former employee in their job search but it can give you a well-deserved reputation boost. Here are some things to consider when writing a reference letter for a former employee.

  • Only write letters for employees you know well. Many times employees will approach senior management for a reference letter but senior management doesn’t always have a direct link to that employee. If you don’t feel like you can properly promote the employee suggest they speak with their direct supervisor for a reference.
  • Use LinkedIn to keep up with the current trend. Social media is changing the job search landscape. When a former employee requests a recommendation on LinkedIn it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a formal letter. However, you should treat it the same way. Select your words carefully and paint a positive picture of the employee that will be published on their LinkedIn page.
  • Introduce yourself as well as the employee. Reference letters reflect you as much as they do your former employee. In the first paragraph let the reader know who you are and why you are an authority to speak on behalf of your employee’s performance.
  • Provide concrete examples. Be sure to share real life examples of why your employee is marketable and would be a good hire. Share numbers and figures as much as you can. If they saved the company money be sure explain how. If they always had a sunny personality, compliment them on it in the letter.
  • Things to avoid. It is best to follow the advice “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Negative things, though they may be true, don’t help you or the employee. If you really feel you can’t give them a positive reference letter politely refuse to write one. Otherwise be sure to leave out any personal information that isn’t relevant to the job – such as marital status or political views. Keep the letter professional and don’t write anything that could be construed as liable.

Are you looking for more management tips? Contact the professional staff at CornerStone Staffing for more information.

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