With most open positions that involve battling candidates who fit and surpass the job requirements, a company can become picky when making its final choice. A referral letter from a past employer helps the employee’s credibility and could help him become the candidate of choice. A referral letter must capture the employee at his best and convey to the prospective employer that he’s the candidate who deserves to be hired.

State that you recommend the person for the position he’s after. For example, a simple “I highly recommend John Smith for the position of accountant” suffices.

Explain why you have given your recommendation. Talk about the way the person performed while an employee of your company. Highlight the employee’s accomplishments, especially if they relate to the position he’s trying to land. If possible, further your explanation by including concrete numbers. For example, “John consistently pulled in more than $15,000 in sales each month” sounds better than “John was at the top of the team in sales.”

Highlight the person’s skills and strengths. Talk about what he brings to the table, especially skills that will be an asset to his new employer. Give a brief example of his strengths and skills and how he integrates them into the workplace.

Talk about how he turned a weakness into a strength. Convince the employer that the employee not only brings to the table a list of skills and abilities, but he is also someone who looks to improve himself by working on his weaknesses. Give an example of how he struggled in an area of work and turned it around to excel in that area.

Talk about his personality. Explain how his personality fits the culture of a workplace, how he works well with others or how he has a knack for leadership and takes others under his wing. Talk about his personable communication style, his friendly demeanor or anything that positively showcases his personality.


Do not write inaccurate information or exaggerate a person's skills and abilities.

Explain how you know the person and how long you have known him.