Reference Letter Samples

Use These Sample Letters to Help You Write Your Own Reference Letters

Two coworkers writing a reference letter for an employee

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A reference letter is usually requested by an employee who is job searching or who must leave your organization for a reason such as a relocating spouse, returning full time to school, or experiencing serious and time-consuming family issues.

The employee asks you for a reference letter so that his or her eventual job search is assisted by a positive recommendation from an employer. Employers should understand the importance of writing reference letters for their own employees.

Changes in Management and Reference Letters

Employees know that managers and supervisors change jobs, Human Resources policies change unpredictably, and companies go out of business. Since circumstances are changing and unpredictable, employees seek reference letters to permanently document their work history.

As an employer, if you have a positive view of an employee’s work, you may choose to write a reference letter to potentially help an employee out in the future. Your actions need some consideration, however.

Start by knowing the reference check policy of your Human Resources office about generating reference letters. In some organizations, the only employees who are authorized to provide a reference are Human Resources staff.

Independently Issued or HR Letter Review

Some organizations ask you to run the reference letter by your HR office before sending it. In our litigious society, HR oversight can save problems from occurring later. HR staff will check to make sure your letter is focused specifically on work behaviors, actions, and results that you observed.

They will check for overgeneralizing and too many effusive remarks. In any case, review by a second pair of eyes is helpful.

With the go-ahead to write a reference letter, think about the employee’s significant contributions and focus your letter on these achievements. Written on company stationery, with clear contact information, and the recommender's name and job title, the reference letter provides a positive boost to a job searcher's credentials.

Reference Letter Sample

Use this reference letter sample as a guide when you recommend a respected, well-liked employee who made positive contributions to your organization. You'll want to use the occasion to help the employee move on to the next chapter of their life.

It is unfortunate when you lose a valued employee but sometimes life cycle and family needs cause an employee to move on even if they were happy with their current employment.

Download the reference letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a reference letter sample
©TheBalance 2018

Reference Letter Sample (Text Version)

Marsha Silva

123 Main Street

Anytown, CA 12345 

Office: 734-233-4801

Cell: 734-998-3208

September 1, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

Mark Robinson was employed by the Pall Corporation from April 2000 until August 15, 2011. During that time period, Mark worked in a variety of departments and learned about our manufacturing business. He reported to me for the last three years when he worked as a supervisor in the filter production clean room department. As Mark’s manager and colleague, I can best discuss the qualities and accomplishments that Mark brought to our company.

Mark was a self-starter who required little supervision. He was informed about and interested in our products, markets, customers, and strategic direction. This helped him run a department that was productive and made high-quality parts with a lot of employee input. Productivity increased by 25% under his direction and the normal quality rating was 99%+.

Employees clamored to transfer into his department and he rarely lost an employee unless the employee had a legitimate reason for leaving such as a promotion or problems at home requiring attention. The employees were significantly involved in setting production and quality goals and determining how to reach those goals.

Mark was a good colleague to his coworkers and always shared tips and ideas to help others manage quality departments, too. He put together supervisor self-training sessions to help other supervisors continue to develop their skills. They read books together, brought in an occasional speaker or customer and generally pursued continuous improvement and management development.

Mark started an on-the-job training activity that constantly cross-trained employees so even in high vacation times, output was rarely affected. I was developing Mark to fill my job when my next promotion became available. That is how highly I thought of his work.

I was sorry to see Mark leave but understand that his wife was offered a job in her specialty area in Colorado, a location that appealed to his family because they are skiers. Her specialty is a difficult one to find employment in and I knew that there was a chance that we’d lose Mark when she completed her degree. But, I respect that the needs and interests of his family are paramount.

If it’s not obvious already, I highly recommend Mark to an employer. We are sorry to lose him and his contributions in our work over the years have been substantial. He is currently dedicating his time to making sure that his knowledge and skills stay in our workplace by training replacements prior to his departure.

Please contact me if you want or need additional information. I have enclosed my office phone extension and my cell phone number so that you can reach me directly for follow-up. A copy of this reference letter is located in the employee's personnel file.


Marsha Silva

Director of Operations and Plant Manager