Reference Letter Samples From a Previous Employer

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As an employer, you may be asked to write a reference letter for someone who worked for you in the past. Providing a reference letter from a previous employer can be beneficial during a job search, and if you feel that you can provide a positive endorsement, it’s a good idea to accept the request.

However, if you don’t believe that you can honestly recommend the person for the job, it is best to politely decline writing the reference letter.

No recommendation is better than a negative reference, and there will be others who may be able to provide a strong recommendation for the position.

For job seekers, it's a good idea to review examples of employer references, so you know what to expect when you ask someone to give you a reference for a job. You may even be asked to draft a reference letter for your reference writer to use as a starting point for their own letter.

Review information on the importantance of references, what is included in an employment reference letter, and reference letter samples written by employers for former employees seeking a job.

The Value of References From Past Employers

When a person is applying for a new job, one of the most valuable references to use is one from your previous employer. Hiring managers will be analyzing what kind of employee the candidate will be, and whether they will fit in with the corporate culture at the firm.

A reference letter from the previous employer will provide valuable information - what kind of employee they are, how well they interacted with others, what skills they have, and whether they were competent in their position. It's also an endorsement, providing a positive recommendation for the person's application with the company.

In addition to helping a good employee get hired, remember that writing references for people also serves to strengthen your network relationships. At some time in the future, you may wish to ask a favor of a former employee or colleague, and if you have been supportive of their career, they will have a more positive opinion to share with others.

What is Included in the Letter

In your letter, you will want to include:

  • Dates of employment
  • The position held 
  • The company name
  • Job responsibilities
  • Qualifications
  • Strengths and Abilities
  • Contact Information

The skills, attributes, and personality traits that make the individual well suited to the job they are applying for should also be included. If they received recognition or awards while working for you, you might mention these as well. 

You could mention any similarities between their former position and the one they are currently seeking, and provide instances of success where possible. If your former employee has provided you with a contact, you should address the letter to them, otherwise you can use a generic salutation. Be sure to include your contact information, and your title and company.

Sample Reference Letters from a Previous Employer #1

To Whom it May Concern:

I highly recommend Jane Doe as a candidate for employment. Jane was employed by ABC Company as an Administrative Assistant from 20XX to 20XX. Jane was responsible for office support, including word processing, scheduling appointments and creating brochures, newsletters, and other office literature.

Jane has excellent communication skills. In addition, she is extremely organized, reliable and computer literate. Jane can work independently and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done. She is flexible and willing to work on any project that is assigned to her. Jane was quick to volunteer to assist in other areas of company operations, as well.

Jane would be a tremendous asset for your company and has my highest recommendation. If you have any further questions with regard to her background or qualifications, please do not hesitate to call me.

Sincerely,

John Smith
Title
Company
Address
Phone
Email

Sample Email Reference Letter from an Employer

Subject: Maxwell Jones Reference

Dear Mr. Green,

I was pleased to hear that Maxwell Jones has applied for the position of sales manager with XYZ Enterprises. Max worked for me as a sales associate at CNE Inc., from 20XX to 20XX. He is a creative and dedicated salesman, who consistently surpassed his quotas, and had a very high customer rating.

Maxwell is a motivated employee, and an excellent leader. Although he was an associate in my department, he took the initiative to mentor new hires, and set a positive example for the team. I can enthusiastically recommend him for a management position.

If you have any questions, or would like any other information, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Holt
Sales Director, CNE Inc.
555-111-2222
rholt@email.com

When you're sending an email reference letter, list the person's name in the subject line of the message. Include your contact information in your signature, so it easy to get it touch with you for any questions or clarification.

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