An employment reference letter is a letter written to the future employer of an individual. Most reference letters help confirm an employee's employment details with a company, as well as highlight his positive professional qualities. This type of business letter should be written by a professional acquaintance of a prospective employee.
When an applicant is trying to secure a new job, it is often recommended that he have at least one employment reference letter. This letter should be written as a business letter. The return address and contact information, along with the date, should be printed at the top. If known, the receiver's address should be typed just below the return address.
Unlike a personal letter, an employment reference letter should be written in formal language. Slang expressions and humor, for instance, should be avoided. Generally, this type of letter should be written to a specific person at a potential new employer. If the letter writer is unsure of a contact person's name, he should use a general greeting like “To whom it may concern.”
One purpose of an employment reference letter is to confirm that an individual worked for the letter writer's company. Specific dates that the individual worked at the company should be included, along with his title or position. Some employment reference letters may also include salary information.
Another purpose of an employment reference letter is to highlight an individual's skills and strong points. A letter writer may include information about an applicant's positive attitude or his work ethic. Specific examples of a former employee's strong points should also be included, if possible. For example, if a former employee helped reduce a company's costs, this should be explained briefly in an employment reference letter.
An employment reference letter should not be written by just anyone. Although a reference letter written by a boss is impressive, one written by a co-worker or supervisor will work as well. It is typically best for an employment reference letter to be written by someone that an applicant has worked with closely. This type of letter should also be written by someone with a high opinion of the applicant.
Asking for an employment reference letter is traditionally done via a formal business letter. In this letter, the asker should make it clear that he respects the prospective letter writer's opinion and why. He may also want to remind the prospective writer of some of his skills and accomplishments.