How to Write a Reference Letter for a Coworker

Updated July 20, 2017

Encourage your colleague's success -- whether it be as a reference for a new job or to further their education -- by composing a well-written reference letter. Writing persuasive and descriptive reference letter is key to convince the reader that the person you are writing about is a reliable, hard-working and valuable member to any team. A reference letter should look professional, containing no spelling or grammatical errors.

Describe your relationship with your colleague. Explain if you are both currently in the same department, worked together previously and the capacity in which you worked with the person, such as you being their supervisor.

Describe how the person is exceptional. Does the person stand out when compared to others who have a similar position and job experience? Explain in the reference letter what skills, positive personality traits and work ethic your colleague has that would make them the perfect candidate to hire.

Emphasise key accomplishments and recognitions the individual has earned. Winning the Employee of the Year Award, being the highest-earning sales associate or garnering the Perfect Teller Difference Award are all achievements you should highlight in the reference letter. Establish the fact that the individual consistently earns these special recognitions, if applicable. If you are a supervisor, describe specific points in the employee's review that would warrant merit and praise.

State your own qualifications. Give your reference letter some extra credibility by citing your own work experience. Briefly describe personal achievements such as being in a supervisory role, staying with the same company for multiple years and any awards you have earned.

Proofread your reference letter. Remove all spelling and grammaatical mistakes and check how the letter flows by reading it aloud.


Type your reference letter. Describe characteristics and traits that directly pertain to the job when describing your colleague. Never write any negative traits. Be specific.

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