A Recommendation or Reference Letter can be very influential in persuading a hiring executive to strongly consider the individual you are referring. If properly written, your letter will not only discuss the candidate’s ability to successfully perform on a given job but will also discuss personal characteristics that contribute to his/her qualifications. In this regard, typically the person writing the Character Reference will know the candidate very well professionally, and may also have some insight as to their lifestyle outside of the workplace.
There are various reasons for writing a Letter of Recommendation on behalf of a candidate for a specific job or academic institution. References are primarily requested to learn more about an individual’s qualifications for the job as well as personal attributes. Hiring Managers want to gather as much information as possible in order to assess a candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit for the job and organization. They want to know how an individual will interact with others as well as knowing they possess the technical skills. In addition to the specified required skills, a few traits that employers also value may include:
Before agreeing to write a Recommendation for a former colleague or employee, you should have a complete understanding as to the reason for the letter; Who will be reading it? What is the position? What are the requirements? Make sure you are qualified to offer a specific information as to the qualifications of this individual for this particular job. You should not only ask for a current copy of the candidate’s resume but also a copy of the job description. Also, ask the candidate what specific attributes he/she may want to highlight; what are the Keywords or skills that are most important for this job.
Any Letter of Reference, after the salutation, is typically organized in three parts:
The first paragraph should include an opening in which you describe yourself and your relationship to the candidate, including your name, title, scope of your responsibilities, how long you have known the individual and in what capacity. In that way, the hiring manager will know the context of your connection to the candidate and how to value your opinion. You should also state either in the beginning or ending of the first paragraph that you are enthusiastically recommending (name) for the position of (title) at (XYZ Company.).
You should also include specific details or examples of projects or assignments on which you may have collaborated with the candidate. Tell a story about a problem and resolution that the candidate managed by providing examples and details that reveal the candidate’s ability to think critically and strategically. Additionally, include information about the candidate’s skills which are requirements of the job. Make a list of the candidate’s unique strengths and provide examples of how the candidate displayed these characteristic.
It is also helpful to include the candidate’s soft skills such as: leadership; ethics; communication; creativity - any attributes that will contribute to the overall character of the candidate. Try to create a complete profile of the individual so that the hiring manager will have a strong sense of the candidate’s potential for fitting into the organization and succeeding at the job.
Conclude your Reference Letter by restating your enthusiastic endorsement of the individual and your confidence in their abilities to succeed in the new position. Be truthful and positive, without exaggeration. Offer to be available for any follow-up questions the organization may have. Then close with your name, title, address and contact information.
A Recommendation Letter can carry weight in a candidate’s application, so it is very important that you write a thoughtful, specific letter to support the candidate’s job search. The following provides some language that may be used as a template. However, you will want to include specific examples, and tailor it to the specific job in consideration.
My name is (Author’s Name/Title) with (XYZ Company). Having been with this company for over 15, with oversight responsibility for over 200 employees, I feel uniquely qualified to strongly recommend (Name) for the position of (Title) at (Company).
I was (candidate’s) supervisor for 5 years, during which time (name) displayed strong analytical skills that were very beneficial to our team. Additionally, (name) often spent long hours completing a project or finding a solution to issues that faced our company. (Name) would also take initiative on various projects and was a true team player. His/her knowledge and expertise in (subject) was a great benefit to our office, which assisted in our achieving our year-end goals. It is with great enthusiasm that I am writing a Reference Letter on behalf of (First Name/Last Name)
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with (Name) whom I confidently recommend to join your organization at (Company).
Please feel free to contact me at (123 456 7890) if you would like to discuss (Name’s) qualifications in further detail. I would be more than happy to elaborate on my recommendation.