Business Reference Letter Recommending Professional Services

Business consultation
Ale Ventura / Getty Images

Have you been asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone who know who has applied for a new job in your industry or is seeking a new client? It’s flattering to be asked and it always feels good to help someone you have a professional relationship with, but there are some things you should know about writing a business recommendation letter.

If you are writing a letter as a representative of your employer, some companies allow managers and employees to provide reference letters while others restrict the ability and the information that can be included.

They may also require that all references go through the human resources department. Check with your company's policies before proceeding, and then review this advice.

If you're a business owner who is writing a recommendation for someone who provides you with professional services, you can use your discretion when providing references.

When Should You Write a Recommendation Letter

The candidate should be someone you know fairly well and have worked with them recently. For example, you likely can't provide a recommendation for someone you worked with ten years ago or with whom you only worked for a month. Although it might be tempting, you’d have to rely on old information that might still be meaningful or it may be misleading – there’s just no way to know.

You should know the candidate in a role which allows you to write a meaningful reference. For example, if you have worked with the person as a freelance writer but he's now starting a dog walking business, you can't attest to his skills in another realm.

In this case it’s best to decline and maybe offer advice on how your friend or colleague can choose a better candidate to write a recommendation letter.

Write the letter only if you can honestly offer a positive reference. If you can't call up any positive qualities or feel a clash with them would interfere with your honest assessment, tell them you're unable to contribute.

You may feel uncomfortable or feel bad about turning them down, but it’s for the best.

Stick to the Facts

Once you agree to write the letter, keep it focused and include only information that is factual and truthful. Avoid saying something that is strictly opinion – it might work against someone being considered for future employment and could potentially result in legal problems for you and your company. On the flip side, avoid exaggerated and overly positive statements. If you build someone up too much, the letter might not carry any weight with future clients or employers.

How to Structure a Reference Letter

1. Introduce yourself in the opening to set up your position and your relationship to the candidate. Let the reader know why you are able to prepare such a letter. 

2. Confirm facts about the candidate and his business:

  • The person’s job title or company
  • How long you've worked with the person
  • The nature of your business relationship or the capacity in which the candidate worked with you.

3. Offer your judgment of the candidate’s skills and qualities in relation to his professional services. You can draw out any exceptional abilities, state that you would happily reemploy him, or note how his professional services made a difference.

You can also add any personal attributes you think makes the person stand out such as his dedication or attention to detail.

4. Use the final paragraph to add any specific examples or anecdotes if you like. 

5. Lastly, close by offering to answer any additional questions or provide follow-up information.

Business Reference Letter Recommending Professional Services

The following is an example of a business reference letter recommending professional services.

Dear Mr. Eggleston,

I am writing to recommend the services of Daniel Lightheart, CPA. Daniel has been working for my law firm for the past fifteen years as our accountant and bookkeeper. His knowledge and attention to detail have aided in keeping our company on track during the recent recession and through a major restructure.

I feel confident in recommending Daniel's accounting services.

He is not only thorough, but also easy to work with and always willing to take the time to discuss my concerns and respond to questions.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,

Annabelle Sebastian
Phone number
Email address

Answer Any Follow Up Questions

Sending a letter of recommendation is important to a potential job candidate or service provider and by following this format, you’ll provide helpful information to the prospective client or employer. You may never hear from the person again, receive a simple thank you response, or he or she may ask more detailed questions about the applicant. Be sure to respond in a timely manner.