Writing a testimonial or recommendation letter is both a challenge and a responsibility as it can materially affect a person’s life. It can help them get a new job, or be admitted to a study course of study. As such it is important to take the matter seriously and give it a great deal of thought.
In this article, we discuss how to write a recommendation or testimonial letter for a person and provide an example to help when next you’re approached to write a recommendation letter.
What is a testimonial letter?
The word ‘testimonial’ is derived from the word ‘testimony which is an account by somebody, like an eye witness. They give information about something that they know about. So in a testimonial letter somebody supplies a written account of somebody that they have worked with and know well. It will address a person’s character, work experience, qualifications, etc, in the form of a written testimonial.
A testimonial letter is generally written by a person such as an employer, manager, supervisor, tutor or lecturer who knows the person and has worked with them in some professional capacity or other Hence, a testimonial letter must be written by someone else and not you.
What is a personal recommendation / character reference?
A personal recommendation or character reference is somewhat different. It is a personal reference from someone who knows somebody personally, rather than necessarily professionally from having worked with them. It will also attest to somebody’s character, skills, experience and qualifications.
Personal recommendations can be written by friends, teachers, ministers and business acquaintances who know somebody well enough to attest to their character and suitability for a job.
If you’re sure you can write a positive professional reference letter, follow this process:
Refresh your memory about the person. For example, ask HR what their exact title was when they worked in your team and for how long they stayed. Consult your own records to see if there are useful notes about them.
Write down two-three qualities that characterize this person. If you can recall specific examples that prove these qualities, put them in your reference letter too.
Think about specific experiences you had with that person. Especially instances where they showed positive attitude or knowledge. Include one example in your letter if possible.
Use our reference letter template to shape your own letter of recommendation format.
What to Include in an Employee Reference Letter
Components of recommendation letter:
Include your contact information and the recipient’s name at the top of the letter for a printed or upload letter. List your contact information in your signature when you’re sending an email.
Subject (email reference)
List the name of the person you’re writing a reference for in the subject of an email reference.
If you are writing a personal letter of reference, include a salutation (Dear Dr Derick, Dear Ms. Aggie, etc.). If you are writing a general reference letter, say “To Whom It May Concern” or start with the first paragraph of the letter.
Explain how you know the person you are recommending, how long you have known them, and why you are qualified to provide a reference for them.
Explain why the person you are recommending is qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. Be sure to use specific examples to speak to their qualifications.
Provide a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. State that you “recommend without reservation” or “strongly recommend” the person or something similar.
Offer to provide more information and include your phone number.
End your letter with a closing, following by your signature.
Reference Letter Examples for an Employee (Text Version)
To Whom it May Concern:
I would like to recommend Jesca Erick as a candidate for a position with your organization. In her position as Administrative Assistant, Jesca was employed in our office from 2021 – 2022. Throughout her time with our organization, she demonstrated critical skills that would make her an excellent employee at your company.
Jesca did a terrific job in her position and was an asset to our organization during her tenure with the office. She has excellent written and verbal communication skills, is extremely organized, can work independently, and is able to effectively multi-task to ensure that all projects are completed in a timely manner.
Because of her effectiveness, I even gave her additional responsibilities, including developing a training program for our interns. Jesca went above and beyond in that assignment, as she does in all tasks.
Jesca was always willing to offer her assistance and had an excellent rapport with the many constituents served by our office including clients, employers, and other professional organizations. This would be particularly valuable for your company, as you state you are looking for a candidate who can effectively communicate with people across departments.
She would be an asset to any employer, and I wholeheartedly recommend her for any endeavor she chooses to pursue. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Signature (hard copy letter)
123 Business Rd.
Durban City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Skywalker,
I am writing to recommend Esther Kyando. She worked with me at Acme Inc. as a Senior Product Manager and reported to me in my position as VP of Engineering.
As an employee, Esther was always reliable and resourceful. During her time in my team, she managed to conduct high-impact user research and make a number of key recommendations that resulted in an improved product (and subsequently increased sales).
I’ve always put a premium on initiative and willingness to learn among my team members and Esther never failed to deliver on both fronts. An example was when she suggested we create a regular internal meetup where more senior employees could answer questions from other employees about their work. She was the first to take advantage of the knowledge these meetups offered and implemented it in her own work.
Esther is a delight to work with – a team player with a positive, can-do attitude all the way. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her again if the opportunity arose.
Should you have any further questions, feel free to reach me at +221 10000000.
VP of Engineering, Acme Inc.