Writing a recommendation letter for your colleague or coworker is one of the most polite and helpful things you can do for a former teammate. Recommendation letters or a letter of recommendation can provide helpful insights and information to future employers who want to validate a professional’s previous work history, accomplishments, skills, and more. It can act as pivotal pieces of information for coworkers seeking real estate properties, rental properties, or other personal needs.
There are a few situations where your coworker may ask you to write them a recommendation letter or reference letter. The first being as a character reference letter. These recommendation letters are used to describe a coworker that you worked alongside in a personal setting. For your colleague, it can help them to secure real estate transactions, rental properties, and other personal needs. While you’re writing a personal letter, you may still refer to your coworker in a way that suggests your relationship is from work.
The second situation where your coworker or colleague may ask for your recommendation is when they’re deciding to leave the company and being an applicant for a new job. Your colleague may have already mentioned they are leaving the company, are in their 2-week notice period, and have asked you to be a reference and write a letter recommending them for future employment.
Writing a Recommendation Letter for Employment
As a current employee, recommending a former employee for professional reasons, here are the things that you should consider as the letter writer. First, consider the job title and the company that your coworker is joining. Does it provide you an insight into what their career path looks like? Try to write situations that stood out to you. Ask your colleague what types of skills they want you to highlight. Then consider ways that might support what the hiring manager might be expecting to see from a top candidate on the job application.
This professional letter should be written in a fashion that discusses the person’s work ethic, accomplishments, and general demeanor as a professional. It should always be positive and share significant details that don’t seem generic. For example, saying, “Anthony has great interpersonal skills” is not enough.
You should consider what a prospective employer and hiring manager might value, then try to write your letter in a way that supports that. Each specific achievement you reference should be transferable to new job titles and show professionalism.
Don’t forget to take your recommendation and turn it into a LinkedIn recommendation when you’re done. This can be helpful for your friend in the future as a job applicant.
Other helpful pieces of information that your colleague can provide you to write a better letter:
- Their cover letter
- Their resume
- The job description, company name, and company biography
Writing a Recommendation Letter for a Character Reference
One of your colleagues may ask you to write them a character reference letter. Be sure that you speak with your coworker and ensure that you both are comfortable referencing. From there, ask your colleague or coworker what their specific needs are. For example, you may want to provide information on validating their current employment on a rental application. Ask your colleague about their needs before you start writing.
A character reference or personal reference letter should contain key insights into who you are vouching for. Either validating their employment or showing and explaining situations that defined that person’s positive character. Being a personal reference can mean that someone may call you regarding a personal situation. Be sure that as a recommender, you’re comfortable with this. It would be best if you used a specific example and scenario to describe your friend or colleague. Never write a letter in your own words.
Letter of Recommendation or Reference Letter
The key difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference letter is that a reference letter may have specific points that the potential employer is looking to validate. This could be skills, accomplishments, or other. As the writer, if you are being asked to validate something professionally from another employer, you are writing a reference letter and not a letter of recommendation.
Same goes for a personal letter. If the real estate manager or another person of interest wants something specifically validated, you write a reference letter. A job seeker may come back to you and ask you to write them a reference letter when the employer is unsure of something that was included in the professional’s resume or cover letter.
Your Letter Formatting
- Always retain business letter format
- Your writing should be in formal letter style
- Use the default page margins
- Never use more than 11pt font size
- Use a professional font like Garamond, Calibri, or Times New Roman
Recommendation Letter Sample
Below is a sample recommendation letter written from one colleague to the other. Note that this is a professional reference letter or recommendation letter and not a personal one.
May 1, 2020
Dear Mr. Antedon —
I’m writing you this recommendation letter to speak to Mr. Anthony’s abilities as a software engineer and leader. As Mr. Anthony’s colleague, I was able to see him develop and grow within our organization. From when he first started, lacking some ability to lead others, to now departing to seek new leadership opportunities.
Some things that I believe the students valued the most about being able to interact with Mr. Anthony:
- He was always adaptable to market conditions and how project management should change amongst that.
- There were situations where the team relied on him to provide advice in more than 3-5 critical situations.
- His active-listening skills were exceptional and every team member felt heard and embraced.
I would love to be able to speak with you about this recommendation. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to call me and I would be happy to help.
Are you a student or teacher looking to write a letter of recommendation? Go here.
Coworker Recommendation Letter
Download this coworker recommendation template in Word format. Can be imported as a Google Doc. Instant download. No email required.
Recommendation Letter Templates
More recommendation letter resources.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
Resume and cover letter resources
Job search resources
Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)
Download our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free download. No email required.
About the author
Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader’s Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.