How to Write Meaningful Recommendation Letters for Your Employees

Picture of Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A person types recommendation letters for her employees

Want a way to help your employees while you’re closing your business? One of the best gestures you can make is writing recommendation letters. Simple, to-the-point letters can be enormously helpful as they try to secure their next roles.

In this short guide, we’ll walk you through some key points to keep in mind to make the letters meaningful, personal, and relevant to the next stages of each person’s career.


What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a document you create to explain what you know about your employee, why they excel in their current role, and which of their attributes will help them succeed in the future.


How do I write one?

Letters of recommendation tend to follow a specific format.

In paragraph 1, you’ll explain who you are and how you know the person you’re recommending.

In the next paragraph, you’ll describe the candidate’s strengths, detailing how you’ve seen them in action on the job and how you believe they can be applied to future roles.

Next, you’ll share a story to elaborate on one or more of the strengths you mention.

Then, you’ll summarize why the candidate would be a good fit for the opportunity they’re seeking.

Finally, you’ll sign your name and provide your contact information for follow-up questions.


You can use this simple format to draft a winning recommendation letter. Or, try using one of these free templates to simplify this task:

  • provides a free Word document you can use to write compelling recommendation letters.
  • Workable offers a free, readymade template you can easily customize to recommend your employees to new roles.
  • Microsoft 365 has a free, downloadable template with sample text to make writing recommendation letters a snap.


What can I do to make my recommendation letters stand out?

Keep the following tips in mind as you write your recommendation letters:

  • Be honest, but try to stay focused on the best attributes of your employees.
  • Talk about attributes other companies will likely value.
  • Be sure to qualify the strengths you mention by giving examples or sharing metrics that validate your claims.
  • Keep a positive, enthusiastic tone.
  • Proofread your letter to ensure it’s free from typing and grammatical errors.
You might consider writing a recommendation on your employees’ LinkedIn pages in addition to (or, sometimes, instead of) writing a letter. Visit to get started.

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