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The Empuls Glossary

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Employee Reference Letter

An employee reference letter or recommendation letter is a formal document written by a previous employer, manager, or colleague. It aims to endorse and vouch for an individual's qualifications, performance, and suitability for a particular job or role. Typically requested by job seekers to accompany their job applications, reference letters give prospective employers an external perspective on the candidate's abilities and character.

What is an employee reference letter?

An employee reference letter, also known as a recommendation letter or employment reference, is a document provided by a previous employer or supervisor to attest to a former employee's skills, qualifications, work ethic, and character. It serves as a professional endorsement for the individual seeking new employment opportunities. Typically, these letters are requested by potential employers as part of the job application process to gain insight into the candidate's past performance and suitability for the position.

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What do you write in an employee reference?

In an employee reference, you should provide an honest and detailed assessment of the individual's qualifications, skills, work ethic, and character. This includes:

  • Specific examples of the employee's accomplishments and contributions.
  • Positive traits such as reliability, professionalism, initiative, and teamwork.
  • Relevant skills and qualifications for the position they are seeking.
  • An overall endorsement of the employee's suitability for the role.

What is employee reference?

An employee reference typically refers to providing feedback or endorsement to potential employers for a current or former employee's skills, qualifications, and character. It can be a reference letter, a phone call, or an online recommendation. Employee references play a crucial role in the job application, providing insight into a candidate's past performance and suitability for a new role.

What is the importance of reference letters in the hiring process?

Reference letters carry significant weight in the hiring process for several reasons. Firstly, they provide employers with additional information beyond what is typically found in resumes and cover letters, offering valuable insights into an applicant's past performance and interpersonal skills. Secondly, they serve as a form of validation, confirming the claims made by the candidate regarding their skills and experiences. Lastly, reference letters help employers assess candidates' fit within their organization's culture and team dynamics, contributing to more informed hiring decisions.

What are the components of an employee reference letter?

A well-crafted employee reference letter typically includes the following components:

  • Contact information: The letter should start with the contact information of the referee, including their name, position, company, address, phone number, and email address.
  • Salutation: A polite greeting addressing the recipient of the letter.
  • Introduction: An introductory paragraph stating the purpose of the letter and the relationship between the referee and the candidate.
  • Description of the employee's role and responsibilities: A detailed overview of the candidate's job title, duties, and responsibilities.
  • Assessment of the employee's skills and qualities: An evaluation of the candidate's skills, competencies, and personal qualities relevant to the position they are applying for.
  • Examples of achievements or contributions: Specific examples of the candidate's achievements, successes, or notable contributions during their tenure.
  • Personal characteristics or work ethic: Insights into the candidate's work ethic, attitude, reliability, and ability to work collaboratively.
  • Closing statement: A concluding statement reaffirming the candidate's suitability for the position and offering further assistance if needed.
  • Signature and contact information of the referee: The letter should end with the referee's signature, printed name, job title, and contact information.

What are the tips for writing an effective employee reference letter?

To ensure the effectiveness and credibility of an employee reference letter, consider the following tips:

  • Customize the letter for the specific job or industry: Tailor the letter's content to align with the requirements and expectations of the target position or industry.
  • Use specific examples and metrics: Provide concrete examples and measurable achievements to substantiate your claims about the candidate's performance and capabilities.
  • Maintain a professional tone: Write formally and professionally throughout the letter, avoiding overly casual language or slang.
  • Highlight the employee's strengths: Focus on highlighting the candidate's strengths, skills, and positive attributes relevant to the position they are applying for.
  • Avoid negative comments or Criticisms: Refrain from including negative comments or criticisms that could harm the candidate's prospects.
  • Proofread and edit for clarity and accuracy: Thoroughly proofread the letter to eliminate any grammatical errors, typos, or inaccuracies that could undermine its credibility.
  • Offer to provide further information if needed: Conclude the letter by expressing willingness to provide additional information or clarification upon request.

How to write a reference letter for an employee?

Writing a reference letter for an employee requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Here's a general outline to follow:

  • Introduction: Start with a formal salutation and a brief introduction mentioning your position and how you know the employee.
  • Description of relationship: Explain how long you've known the employee and in what capacity (e.g., supervisor, colleague).
  • Assessment of skills and qualities: Highlight the employee's strengths, skills, and qualifications relevant to the position they are applying for. Provide specific examples and anecdotes to support your claims.
  • Work ethic and performance: Discuss the employee's work ethic, reliability, productivity, and ability to meet deadlines. Again, use concrete examples to illustrate your points.
  • Character and personality: Comment on the employee's character traits, interpersonal skills, and attitude towards work and colleagues.
  • Closing: Offer to provide further information if needed, express confidence in the employee's abilities, and provide your contact information for any follow-up questions.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

How do I write a reference letter for my worker?

To write a reference letter for your worker, follow the steps outlined above in "How to write a reference letter for an employee." Be sure to tailor the letter to the specific job the worker is applying for and highlight the strengths and experiences that are most relevant to that position. It's also important to be sincere and accurately assess the worker's abilities.

Sample employee reference letter template

Here's a basic template for an employee reference letter:

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I recommend [Employee's Name] for [position/role] at your organization.

During their time at [Company Name], [Employee's Name] served as [Job Title] and was responsible for [brief description of responsibilities].

[Employee's Name] possesses exceptional [skill/quality] and has consistently demonstrated [relevant attribute].

Some notable achievements include [specific accomplishment or contribution].

Furthermore, [Employee's Name] exhibits [positive characteristic] and approaches their work with [specific work ethic].

In conclusion, I am confident that [Employee's Name] would be a valuable asset to your team and excel in [position/role]. Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information.


[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Contact Information]

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