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5 Helpful Employee Reference Letter Tips

5 employee reference letter tipsThere have probably been a few times throughout your career that you asked someone from your professional network to provide you with a reference letter for a potential employer that you’ve interviewed with. And, being the awesome person that you are, that someone happily stepped forward and effortlessly wrote you a kick-butt reference letter, right? In a perfect world, sure. But the reality is that writing a reference letter can seem like a daunting task for some people – even for managers who are often asked to provide a letter of recommendation for a friend, colleague or employee.

Here are 5 employee reference letter tips that you can easily put into action the next time you’re asked to provide a letter:

Tip #1 – Make it Personal (But Not Too Personal)
It goes without saying that you should only agree to write a reference letter for someone you know well. Make sure your letter is personal, but not too personal. In other words, expand on the relationship you have with the employee so it’s clear there’s a real connection and history between the two of you. This will add that personal touch to the letter. But keep the details on a professional level. If you happen to be a good personal friend with the employee outside of work, that’s not information that will add value to your message.

Tip #2 – Be Specific
Make sure that you’re specific about what the employee’s title is or was, and explain how you fit into their employment picture. Be sure to make a strong connection between the employee’s skills and the position she’s interviewing for. And don’t just spew out a list of their skills. Share a few examples that show why the employee is the most qualified candidate for the job.

Tip #3 – Drop the Buzz
Approach your reference letter as you would a resume. Don’t use nonsense buzzwords and empty business jargon. This kind of language adds no value to your letter and it will only make it sound generic and cookie-cutter. Nobody wants that. 

Tip #4 – Use a Reader-Friendly Format
As we all know, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and short- …you get it. Make sure your letter is informational while being succinct and to-the-point. If you’re sending a digital version of letter, which is likely, use a format that can easily be opened and viewed across multiple devices – desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone. A great format to consider is a PDF.

Tip #5 – Don’t Forget Your Contact Info
Conclude the letter with your contact info – full name, title, company, email address and tel number. It’s likely that you won’t hear from anyone regarding your letter, but provide your basic contact information anyway. Just in case the employer has questions and wants to follow up with you directly.

Hope you found these employee reference letter tips helpful! Visit the Employer section of our website for more helpful information about the services we provide to CT employers, from direct hire recruiting to skill assessments.