How to craft a solid recommendation letter

business signing contract


Who should write a recommendation letter? HR? Supervisor? What if it is negative?

– Shyne Mae, HR Generalist, Pryce Gases, Inc., Davio City, Philippines


We have previously covered risks and challenges of writing recommendation letters. Let’s start with the last part of the question. Since the purpose of a recommendation letter is to recommend a candidate such as a former employee for employment elsewhere, there should really never be a negative recommendation letter or even, really, a neutral one. My recommendation for letters that would be negative or neutral is for them not to be recommendations at all but rather simple verifications of employment.

For true recommendation letters, unless your counsel or company policy recommends otherwise, the best results will come from an immediate supervisor who knew the employee best. That dynamic will add a personal touch and make the letter more effective. A dry form letter from an administrative office that doesn’t know the candidate well may technically get the job done but probably won’t make an impact.

There are some risks to making a recommendation letter so beyond the employment verification information that you may be required to give, I recommend you only do recommendations for employees you truly stand by. When asked by someone unremarkable for a recommendation, I often ask the person to think about whether they have a better relationship with someone in a better position to write a glowing recommendation. That usually works.

More on recommendation letters here.

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