How to write employee testimonials

Employee testimonials or reference letters play a vital role in highlighting an individual’s strengths and talents to potential employers. Crafted with care, they can serve as powerful tools and aid job seekers in securing new opportunities. When writing an employee testimonial, adopting the right tone and structure is crucial.

Usually, junior employees would request an employee testimonial from their direct supervisor when they leave a company. Sometimes, the companies the prospective candidates interview with may contact you if you were listed as a reference in their resumes or CVs and ask for your testimonial.

Related: How to build a learning culture in your business

Other times, you can voluntarily pen a LinkedIn recommendation for a top performer leaving the company to help bolster their job search. Whatever the case may be, here are some essential tips to consider:

Familiarise yourself with the employee 

Two middle age business workers smiling happy and confident. Working together with smile on face hand giving high five at the office. Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Before you start, take a moment to reflect on the employee’s notable skills and qualities that would be valuable to future employers.

Skip daily routines and stories about a typical day, and highlight specific examples of their accomplishments, such as successful negotiations, exceeding targets, implementing innovative systems or processes, or their contribution to improving workplace culture.

Related: Why an effective onboarding process is more important than you think

Components of employee testimonials

A well-rounded employee testimonial should include the following:
•    Your contact information.
•    The employee’s name as the subject.
•    A clear indication of your recommendation.

You should mention your job title, the nature of your professional interaction with the employee, and the duration of your working relationship, within the company and in any collaborative efforts across departments.

Testimonial length considerations

While a standard employee testimonial is typically one A4 page in length, there are no strict rules on its size. If you believe additional information is necessary to convey the employee’s value, feel free to expand upon it.

Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and abbreviations, and ensure that all vital details about the individual are included.

An alternative to the traditional A4-letter-type testimonial, you may be providing a recommendation for someone on social media or their LinkedIn account. Employee testimonials on LinkedIn’s Recommendations section need not be exceedingly long and can be written in a casual tone.

Whichever platform you choose, it is crucial that the content is kept concise and to the point. Here are some employee testimonial examples:

Reference letter example

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing this letter to provide a reference for [Ex-Employee’s Name], who was under my supervision as a [Ex-Employee’s Job Title] at [Company name]. [Ex-Employee’s Name] worked with us from [Start Date] to [End Date].

During [Ex-Employee’s Name] ’s tenure with our organisation, they consistently demonstrated exceptional professionalism, dedication, and a strong work ethic. Their job performance was consistently of a high standard, and they continually exceeded our expectations. I was particularly impressed with [Ex-Employee’s Name] ’s ability to [provide specific examples of outstanding performance or achievements].

[Ex-Employee’s Name] is an excellent communicator and collaborator, always displaying strong interpersonal skills. Their problem-solving abilities and attention to detail were invaluable in handling complex tasks and projects. They can effectively work independently and as part of a team, contributing to a positive and productive work environment.

Moreover, [Ex-Employee’s Name] has always displayed a strong commitment to their professional growth through research and development. They actively sought out opportunities to expand their knowledge, and their proactive approach to learning made them an asset to our team.

I highly recommend [Ex-Employee’s Name] for any future employment opportunities. They possess a unique blend of technical expertise, interpersonal skills, and a dedication to excellence that make them an exceptional candidate. I have no doubt that they will make significant contributions to any organisation they join.

Please get in touch with me if you have any further questions or need more information. I can be reached at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email Address].

Thank you for considering my recommendation of [Ex-Employee’s Name]. I have every confidence in their abilities and believe they will be a valuable addition to your team.


[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Your Company/Organisation]

LinkedIn recommendation letter

“I have had the pleasure of working closely with [Recipient’s Name] for [duration of your working relationship]. [Recipient’s Name] is an exceptional professional who consistently demonstrates remarkable expertise and dedication in their field. Their attention to detail, strategic thinking, and problem-solving abilities have proven invaluable in delivering outstanding results.

Beyond their professional competence, [Recipient’s Name] is a joy to work with. Their integrity, reliability, and strong work ethic make them a trusted and highly valued team member. They possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, enabling them to effectively collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders at all levels. They naturally inspire and motivate others, always fostering a positive and productive work environment.

I have been consistently impressed by [Recipient’s Name] ’s ability to adapt to new challenges and embrace change. Their enthusiasm for learning and innovation is contagious, and it has a positive impact on company culture and the entire team. They are constantly seeking opportunities for growth and development, pushing themselves to excel and stay at the forefront of their field.

I wholeheartedly recommend [Recipient’s Name] to any organisation or individual seeking a highly skilled professional with exceptional dedication, a collaborative spirit, and a passion for excellence. Their contributions have consistently exceeded expectations, and I have no doubt they will continue to thrive and make significant contributions wherever they go.”

Related: A culture of employee recognition contributes to retention

Conveying importance and impact

Remember that your words carry weight and can significantly influence the former employee’s prospects. When writing employee testimonials, you may encounter several challenges. Here are some common difficulties you may face when crafting these testimonials:

Balancing honesty and positivity

One of the main challenges is finding the right balance between providing an honest assessment of the employee’s skills and accomplishments while maintaining a positive tone. It can be challenging to highlight areas for improvement without overshadowing the employee’s strengths.

Articulating the employee’s value

Expressing the employee’s value to potential employers can be challenging. It requires effectively communicating their unique contributions, proficiencies, and qualities in a concise and compelling manner. Some people may struggle with articulating these positive aspects in a way that truly highlights the employee’s strengths.

Overcoming writer’s block 

Writing testimonials can sometimes result in writer’s block, where you struggle to find the right words or structure their thoughts. This challenge can hinder the ability to create a well-crafted testimonial that effectively highlights the employee’s abilities and achievements.

Ensuring authenticity and credibility

It is crucial for testimonials to come across as authentic and credible. You may find it challenging to strike the right balance between highlighting the employee’s positive attributes and avoiding overly exaggerated or generic statements that may appear insincere.

Dealing with limited information

In some cases, the person creating the testimonial may have limited information about the employee’s accomplishments or specific details about their performance. This can make it challenging to provide specific examples or substantiate the claims made in the testimonial.

Time constraints

Crafting a well-written employee testimonial requires time and thoughtfulness. You may face challenges when trying to allocate sufficient time to gather the necessary information, reflect on the employee’s performance, and write a comprehensive testimonial within a tight timeline.

Overcoming these challenges often involves careful planning, thoughtful reflection on the employee’s contributions, and seeking input or feedback from the employee themselves or other colleagues who have worked closely with them.

Closing with a recommendation

Man at laptop thinking. Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

After providing relevant details and information, conclude the testimonial with a clear and strong personal recommendation. Express your confidence in the employees’ abilities and emphasise their potential as an excellent addition to any organisation. This ensures that the intent of the testimonial is unequivocally conveyed.

Some examples:

“For these reasons, I strongly recommend David for future roles, and I feel he would be an excellent addition to any organisation.”

“I highly recommend [name of employee] to any organisation, as she is an incredible resource of knowledge, expertise and wisdom.”

Related: Why candidate experience matters and how to do it well

Declining a reference request

Boss in fabric mask showing no gesture against partner. Photo by Monstera Production via Pexels.

It is important to remember that providing a reference is not an obligation. If you cannot write a positive reference, it is best to decline the request.

However, offer an alternative suggestion, such as recommending another person who may be better suited to provide the reference. Maintain politeness and avoid sounding critical.

An employee testimonial is an opportunity to recommend deserving individuals and assist them in their career journey. By writing a well-crafted testimonial, you not only support the employee’s prospects but also strengthen your professional network.

Also, the success of the prospective candidates landing new jobs in part thanks to your employee testimonials reflects positively on your own credibility. Approach each testimonial with sincerity and the desire to help others thrive in their careers.

Related: How to resolve workplace conflicts: A guide for managers

Advantages for those writing the testimonials

Two employees working together. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

While providing employee testimonials help your former employee, this powerful tool can only benefit the person writing the employee testimonials. It allows you to express appreciation, enhance your professional reputation, strengthen relationships, develop communication expertise, and create networking opportunities. It can also demonstrate to current employees that you are a supervisor who acknowledges and praises someone for their achievements or contributions.

Overall, providing employee testimonials can:

Strengthen relationships

Writing an employee testimonial often involves reflecting on positive experiences and collaborations with colleagues or the organisation. This process can strengthen relationships and build stronger professional connections. By publicly acknowledging and promoting the achievements of others, the employee is likely to foster a sense of camaraderie, trust, and goodwill within the workplace.

Create networking and collaboration opportunities

Writing employee testimonials often involves interacting with colleagues and other professionals. This engagement can lead to new networking opportunities, collaboration on projects, show current employees that you value them or even mentoring relationships. By actively participating in such activities, the prospective candidates expand their professional network, and opens doors to future collaborations and career prospects.

Read more:
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