#5 - Write recommendation letters for employees
Earn yourself some karma.
Welcome to a new edition of the Hatchet. We share career advice for new managers working at fast-growing companies, directly to your email inbox.
Interested in receiving these stories too? Sign up here.
Write recommendation letters for employees
I am a religious believer of karma in business and so when good people leave my team I genuinely want them to succeed in whatever they choose to do next.
A great way to contribute to that success is to provide them with a carefully crafted recommendation letter. That means writing a letter that eloquently highlights the strengths of your former employee, while avoiding overused, vague and hollow statements like “has a can-do attitude and is very flexible”.
The problem with recommendation letters is you always get asked to write them at an inconvenient time: when an employee leaves. As a manager, you'll already be busy having to think about their off-boarding, finding a replacement and figuring out who will take over their work in the meantime. That's why you need to be prepared.
Create good templates
Although the teams I managed varied in size from 8 to 25 employees, each team could be split up into a maximum number of job profiles. Employees within that same job profile will have a commonality in skillset and responsibilities, making it easier for you to create one good template per profile that can be used when an employee leaves.
Does it matter that your recommendation letter won't be 100% unique to that specific employee? No, what matters more is that the letter is a quality piece of work that provides honest insight into the type of work your employee performed for you and the qualities they possess.
I'm going to share with you three of the templates I used for employees in my team during my time at TNW. For privacy reasons I've replaced all personal information with that of some famous friends, but the setup and structure remain intact.
Please use them as inspiration for creating your own templates — feel free to copy them to a new document to start editing your own. The yellow highlights indicate the sections of each template that I've altered per job type.