From time to time, you’re sure to get requests to write reference letters for former employees. Sometimes you’re happy to satisfy the request; others, not so much. To help you deal with both situations, consider the following:
The first question you should ask yourself is:
Should I be writing this letter?
As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can tell you if a former employee requests a reference letter, they should be a person that you know reasonably well and can provide solid examples of past work history. However, if you knew the employee at the company but never actually worked with them – and have no first-hand knowledge of their skills and experience – then you shouldn’t be writing a reference letter on their behalf, even if you’re friends. Keep in mind this is a formal document that companies will be basing hiring decisions on.
If you do decide to write a reference letter on behalf of a former employee, it should include these basic fundamentals:
• Introduce who you are and how you know the candidate.
• Confirm any facts you know the candidate needs to supply, including job title, dates of employment and any other pertinent information.
• Describe the candidate’s skills and experience while they worked with you.
• Give a couple of specific examples of the candidate’s positive performance and accomplishments.
• Close by summarizing why you would recommend this person for the position.
• Be sure to include your contact information in case employers want to follow up.
• Don’t write in an informal language or use humor. Also, be sure to spell check the letter before you send it. Remember that your letter holds weight as to whether the candidate gets the offer.
• Don’t include any personal information you know about the candidate, such as whether they’re married or have kids. This kind of information is not relevant to the hiring process.
When You Don’t Have Anything Positive to Say
It’s always surprising when a former employee you didn’t get along with or that left on bad terms asks you to write a reference letter. However, it happens all the time. When it does, it’s wise – albeit a little awkward – to politely decline rather than writing a half-hearted endorsement.
If you write a letter that is less than accurate, an employer might actually hire that person based on it. If the tables were turned, you’d want only honest, accurate letters of reference from candidates.
Need help hiring for your company? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.