Recommendation Letter Samples For Employment

By Abby McCain
Jul. 31, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

No matter how well-written your resume is or how well you connect at a job interview, it can be difficult for an employer to get a full picture of what it’s really like to work with you.

They’re aware that you’re putting your best foot forward during the application process, so they want to know that you are who you say you are before they go down the road of hiring you.

We will go over the structure of a recommendation letter, provide some examples of letters, and give tips to help create the best recommendation letter.

Key Takeaways:

  • Interviewers want a reference letter because they want to hear from someone who has experience working with you that you not only have the skills you say you do, but that you’ll be pleasant to work with.

  • When writing a reference letter, make sure you follow the instructions to include information that the hiring manager is looking for.

  • It’s important to stay positive in your recommendation letter.

  • Potential employers want anecdotes instead of vague comments about the person the recommendation letter is about.

Recommendation Letter Samples for Employment

How to Structure a General Recommendation Letter

When it comes to actually writing a letter of recommendation, you don’t need to be an amazing writer to get your point across. Focus on being positive and professional, and use these structural guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Header. If you’re turning in a hard copy of your recommendation letter, it’s important to make sure you structure it as you would a formal business letter. Use your professional letterhead or type your name, title, company name, address, phone number, and email address at the top.

    You should follow this with the date you’re sending the letter and then add the recipient’s name, title, company name, and address. If you don’t have that information, or if you’re writing an email, you can leave that part off.

  2. Salutation. When you’re beginning your letter, it’s a good idea to start off by saying, “Dear Mr. [insert last name]” or “Dear Ms. [insert last name].” Then follow this salutation with a comma..

    If you don’t know who you’re sending the letter to or it’s a general recommendation letter for a non-specific job opportunity, you can write, “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom It May Concern.” However, if it is for a specific job opportunity, try your best to address the letter directly to the hiring manager or recruiter.

  3. Background. Your first paragraph is a good place to explain how long you’ve known the person you’re writing about and the nature of your relationship. It’s also a good time to be very clear that you’re recommending them. You can give some general information about the person here as well.

  4. More details. In your next paragraph or two, you can expound on some of the qualities that make the person stand out. Give specifics like statistics or brief anecdotes about instances where you saw them shine.

    Try to include qualifications that will be important to the specific job they’re applying for, if possible, as well as soft skills that make working with them enjoyable.

  5. Sign-off. Finish your letter by clearly stating that you recommend the person and then inviting the recipient to contact you with additional questions. Sign off with “sincerely” and then your name.

    Sign and type it if you’re writing a hard copy, or type it and then follow it with your contact information if you’re sending an email. Take a look at these examples for inspiration.

Sample Recommendation Letters

  1. Recommendation letter sample:

    Andy Hunt
    Principal, Cedar Springs Public Schools
    1111 S. 11th St., Wichita, KS 11111

    November 23, 2020

    Ellen Murray
    West Hollow Public Schools
    2222 N. 22nd St., Houston, TX 22222

    Dear Ms. Murray:

    I am writing on behalf of Sam Smith, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five years. Sam taught Spanish and math at our middle school campus and had over 200 students come through his classroom. Throughout his time at Cedar Springs, I consistently had parents and students tell me how he was one of their favorite teachers.

    During my observations in his classroom, I was able to see firsthand how he worked to engage his students with creative projects and presentations. He not only made sure the students knew the material, but that they knew that he cared about them as individuals. His success with this was demonstrated in his students’ higher-than-average test scores and in the fact that his past students would also come by to say hello to him. His current students were always stopping by his classroom for help with material and for advice as they dealt with the social challenges that come with middle school.

    Sam is quick to help out around the school and was often found doing odd jobs for other teachers during his breaks. The other teachers know they can count on him and enjoy working with him, as his positive and encouraging demeanor brightens every room he’s in.

    Sam has a gift for connecting with students as he pushes them to be better, and any school would be lucky to have him on their team. I give him my highest recommendation.

    Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need any additional information.


    Andy Hunt

  2. Sample recommendation letter email:

    To: Piper Williams
    From: Sarah Stanley

    Subject: Recommendation for Luke Christianson

    Dear Ms. Williams,

    I’m writing to recommend Luke Christianson for the position of Junior Programmer at Tech, Inc. I had the honor of being Luke’s supervisor while he was participating in our internship program at Computers, LLC, this summer. During his three months here, I was able to see Luke thrive as he was presented with problems to solve and tasks to complete. Even if he had had little to no experience with the particular task he was given, he accepted the assignment with a smile and worked hard to gather the information he needed to complete it in a timely manner.

    Luke is attentive to detail while he keeps up with tight deadlines. He takes constructive criticism well and incorporates the feedback he receives into his work. Luke outperformed the majority of the 60 interns we hired over the summer, and his supervisor had to come up with more challenging tasks for him. Luke is enjoyable to talk with and brings calm to the office. He has a great sense of humor and connected well with both his peers and his superiors.

    I offer my highest recommendation for Luke, as I believe that he would be an asset to any organization.

    Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I’d be happy to answer them.


    Sarah Stanley

    Sarah Stanley
    Department Manager
    Computers, LLC
    5555 West 55th Blvd.
    New York City, New York 55555

  3. Recommendation letter example:

    Greg Murray
    Accounting Director
    Greenville Accounting
    3333 N. 33rd St.
    Greenville, SC 33333

    May 5, 2020

    Bill Thompson
    Globex Corporation
    1212 W. 12th Ave.
    Greenville, SC 33333

    Dear Mr. Thompson:

    It is my pleasure to recommend Angela Martin for the accounting position at Globex Corporation. I’ve been Angela’s supervisor for the past three years, and she has been a wonderful addition to our team.

    Angela is always one of the first ones to the office and is someone I can count on to pull a project together quickly and accurately. She is always finding ways to develop her skills and improve at her job. Angela’s projects are always finished on time and error-free, and the whole department relies on her to help troubleshoot and come up with creative solutions to problems that arise.

    In addition to being a skilled worker, Angela is a wonderful teammate. She is always ready to help her co-workers with a smile, solves conflict quickly and painlessly, and uses her organizational skills to help the entire organization thrive. She communicates clearly and her clients always have positive things to say about her.

    Angela would be a valuable asset for any organization, but I believe her skills are especially suited for the open position at Globex. I give her my highest recommendation.

    Please feel free to contact me for more information.

    Greg Murray

5 Key Elements of a Recommendation Letter

  1. Brevity. Chances are, the recipient of your recommendation letter will be combing through a stack of letters and applications, so they’ll appreciate reading a short, to-the-point document. A good rule of thumb is to keep your letter about one page long.

  2. Anecdotes. The purpose of your letter is to flesh out the person you’re recommending for their future employer. Instead of giving vague compliments, try to incorporate some short examples that paint a more memorable picture.

    These don’t have to be long-winded stories, but they should be more specific than just saying that the employee is a hard worker. If they’re known for staying longer than everyone else, for example, make sure you say that.

  3. Variety. Try to mention both soft and hard skills the person has. If you spend all of your time talking about their technical skills, readers may question if working with them is enjoyable. On the other hand, if you focus only on how much fun they are, it may cast doubt on their ability to complete their job.

  4. Specifics about your relationship. It’s important to note how you know the person you’re recommending. This gives validity to your reference and helps give a clearer idea of what it’s like to be their supervisor or co-worker.

    It’s a good practice to put this at the beginning of your letter so that the reader has it in mind as they read.

  5. Positivity. It might sound obvious, but remember to always stay positive in your letter. Be truthful and professional, but make sure you’re helping the person put their best foot forward, even if you didn’t get along all the time.

    If you can’t in good conscience sign your name to a recommendation, or if you just don’t know them well enough to write a good one, politely decline writing the letter. It’s better that you aren’t insincere and that you give them the opportunity to find someone who can write it well.

Tips for Writing a Recommendation Letter

  1. Make sure you’re a good choice. Before you agree to write a recommendation letter for someone, it’s in their best interest to consider whether your opinion will matter much to the hiring manager. Remember that personal or character references aren’t as valuable for recruiters as professional ones.

    However, if the candidate already has one professional recommendation letter, and wishes to supplement it with a character reference, then you can feel comfortable accepting.

    Other than that, only agree to write a professional recommendation letter for employment if:

    • You’ve worked closely with the person or observed them directly

    • You know the person’s on-the-job strengths, and you have stories that demonstrate them

    • You can offer entirely positive feedback about this person

    • You’ve worked with them recently (within five years, max)

    If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, it might be better to suggest this person find a different individual to write their recommendation letter.

  2. Learn about the candidate. If you’ve been asked to write a recommendation letter, you probably know a lot about the person who asked. But there’s a chance you haven’t worked closely with them in recent months or even years. Even if you are day-to-day partners with this person, you might not be fully aware of the depth or scope of their credentials.

    That’s why it’s essential to look over their resume and cover letter. Their resume will give you a better idea of exactly what experiences they’re trying to promote, and their cover letter will help you understand what sort of values they’d like highlighted.

    Other than that, just have a frank discussion with the candidate to learn precisely what they’d like you to write about.

  3. Learn about the opportunity. Knowing the candidate well is more than half the battle, but it’s also important to learn about the job itself. Read the job description and highlight the keywords that come up a lot. If one technical skill comes up often and is emphasized a lot, make sure to include a story that demonstrates the candidate’s proficiency with that skill.

    You can also do some research on the company’s values and culture, but the person asking for the letter should help you out and summarize this information for you.

  4. Tie examples to the job description. Now that you know about the candidate and the job, you can start figuring out exactly which anecdotes work best to sell the candidate. Again, this person might already have an idea of which stories they want to be told, which makes your job a whole lot easier.

    But if they don’t, try to brainstorm (together, ideally) times when you’ve seen the candidate put these relevant skills to good use. Stories that include numbers work best, because they serve to make your story seem less objective. After all, it’s not your opinion that the candidate improved a process by 10% — it’s an objective fact.

  5. Proofread. Even one typo or grammatical mistake could serve to undercut the authority of your recommendation letter. It’s best to have a second set of eyes look over your letter before sending it, as it’s easy to become blind to errors once you’ve spent a lot of time on the same document.

  6. Follow instructions. Last but certainly not least, make sure to follow all submission instructions. You don’t want your recommendation letter to wind up in the wrong place or arrive late. Also, if you’re submitting it online, make sure that the file is saved in whatever format the company requested.

    Your authority as a recommender relies on you being professional, so make sure that you get the details of your submission right.

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Abby McCain

Abby is a writer who is passionate about the power of story. Whether it’s communicating complicated topics in a clear way or helping readers connect with another person or place from the comfort of their couch. Abby attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in writing with concentrations in journalism and business.

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