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A new email arrives in your inbox and you see it’s from one of your former employees. You quickly glance over the subject line, and your eyes catch on one word: recommendation.

Immediately, your stomach drops. You know exactly what’s coming next—she wants you to write a letter of recommendation for her.

Of course, you’re flattered that she’d approach you with the task. But, on the other hand, you have to admit that you’re dreading it. Your schedule’s already packed, and this is just one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list.

Even worse? You hate writing—meaning this duty is way more challenging and overwhelming than anything you feel prepared to tackle right now.

These letters can be a challenge to whip up—particularly when you want to craft something that’s well-written, personalized, and truly does that former employee justice to a hiring manager.

But, stress no more! Those requests no longer need to send you into a tailspin.

Here’s a basic template you can use to create the perfect one.

The Template

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [Last Name],

It’s my absolute pleasure to recommend [Name] for [position] with [Company].

[Name] and I [relationship] at [Company] for [length of time].

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with [Name], and came to know [him/her] as a truly valuable asset to absolutely any team. [He/she] is honest, dependable, and incredibly hard-working. Beyond that, [he/she] is an impressive [soft skill] who is always [result].

[His/her] knowledge of [specific subject] and expertise in [specific subject] was a huge advantage to our entire office. [He/she] put this skillset to work in order to [specific achievement].

Along with [his/her] undeniable talent, [Name] has always been an absolute joy to work with. [He/she] is a true team player, and always manages to foster positive discussions and bring the best out of other employees.

Without a doubt, I confidently recommend [Name] to join your team at [Company]. As a dedicated and knowledgeable employee and an all-around great person, I know that [he/she] will be a beneficial addition to your organization.

Please feel free to contact me at [your contact information] should you like to discuss [Name]’s qualifications and experience further. I’d be happy to expand on my recommendation.

Best wishes,
[Your Name]

The Example

Seems simple enough, right?

But, I know that filling in those blanks is one of the toughest parts. So, let’s take a look at a quick example of what this would look like in practice, shall we?

Here’s how this letter would turn out if I were writing a recommendation for Joe, a hypothetical sales employee I’d previously managed.

Dear Mrs. Smith,

It’s my absolute pleasure to recommend Joe Adams for the Sales Manager position with The Sales Company.

Joe and I worked together at Generic Sales Company, where I was his manager and direct supervisor from 2011-2014.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Joe, and came to know him as a truly valuable asset to any team. He is honest, dependable, and incredibly hard-working. Beyond that, he is an impressive problem solver who is always able to address complex issues with strategy and confidence. Joe is inspired by challenges, and never intimidated by them.

His knowledge of sales etiquette and expertise in cold calling was a huge advantage to our entire office. He put this skill set to work in order to increase our total sales by over 18% in just one quarter. I know that Joe was a huge piece of our success.

Along with his undeniable talent, Joe has always been an absolute joy to work with. He is a true team player, and always manages to foster positive discussions and bring the best out of other employees.

Without a doubt, I confidently recommend Joe to join your team at The Sales Company. As a dedicated and knowledgeable employee and an all-around great person, I know that he will be a beneficial addition to your organization.

Please feel free to contact me at 555-123-4567 should you like to discuss Joe’s qualifications and experience further. I’d be happy to expand on my recommendation.

Best wishes,
Kat Boogaard
Director of Sales
The Sales Company

There you have it—a letter that would make anybody want to immediately hire Joe.

Of course, keep in mind that this is simply a template. You can definitely make some tweaks and inject in some creativity and personality. In fact, I encourage you to do so!

However, this should definitely get you started and on the right track. Remember, be complimentary (while still being honest!). A negative recommendation really serves no purpose, so if you find yourself going down that road, it’s better to tell the person no.

And, of course, ensure that you personalize every single letter that you write. The more customized you can make it, the better!

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