Job References

In your process of searching for a new job, potential new employers will be curious about your ability to work at their company before making a decision to hire you. A way of proving that you are qualified in your skills and abilities for a new job is to ask for a job reference from your previous employer.

Job reference letters essentially help you find a new job by advocating your qualities. They are usually required in the advanced stages of the hiring process, although some require them in the early stages along with your CV and cover letter. Your reference letters should include professional connections (e.g. colleagues, supervisors, employers, college professors) that could prove that you previously worked at their companies and attest to your qualifications.

Having good references will aid you significantly in your job search. A well-written and supportive job reference letter might just be the clincher for a new job!

Writing Reference Letters

The contents of a job reference letters are usually separated into three key parts:


The introduction should first state the purpose of the letter. In most cases, the purpose is to help advocate the applicant in his or her application to a new job. After stating the purpose, the referee should mention the applicant’s tenure in the company and his or her professional relationship with the applicant.

Skills and qualifications

This section should include the employee’s skills and achievements on the job. These include technical and communication skills, personality, professionalism, and significant contributions to the company. It is useful to utilize strong adjectives and verbs to describe the applicant’s qualities as it gives power to the message. It is also helpful to mention, in detail, any instances or examples of those skills and qualities being applied. If there are glaring weaknesses, they should be mentioned with examples along with a line of encouragement about improving on those weak areas.


This section explains how the applicant’s experience and skills will contribute to his or her new job. The conclusion wraps up all the skills and qualifications mentioned above. It tells the reader why that applicant would succeed in the new company and why they should seriously consider hiring the new applicant.

Common Expressions


  1. I’m writing in support of (name of applicant)…
  2. This is to certify that (name of applicant) has been employed at our company…
  3. I have known (name of applicant) for x years.
  4. (Name of applicant) was employed as a (position) between (month and year) and (month and year).
  5. He/she has worked as a (position) under my supervision.

Skills and Qualifications

  1. I have been impressed by (name)’s ability to…
  2. (Name) has made several important contributions to the company.
  3. He/she has an outgoing and approachable personality and gets along well with his/her colleagues.
  4. Without a doubt, he/she has proven himself/herself capable of handling various challenges and obstacles.
  5. Despite his/her relative inexperience in (job area), he/she has adjusted to the job well and has certainly gained valuable experience and knowledge during her time here.


  1. I strongly believe that (name)’s strong work ethic, technical skills, and experience will make her an ideal applicant for your position.
  2. (Name) has left on his/her own accord and we wish him/her the best of luck in the future.
  3. He/she was a valuable member of our company and we would have liked for him/her to stay.
This starts off the letter stating the purpose of the letter, which is to endorse a applicant.
This a more personalized way of saying how long the applicant has worked at his or her old company.
This is a more formal or ceremonial way of stating the applicant’s working tenure.
This describes the past relationship between the referee and the applicant.
Using “I” makes the message more personalized and convincing.
This is a more generic and nonspecific way of crediting the applicant.
It is beneficial to include the applicant’s personality in the office as it informs the employer on whether he or she would fit in to the new company well.
It is helpful to include strong verbs or phrases like “proven” or “without a doubt” to assure confidence in endorsing the applicant.
Weaknesses can be mentioned, but they should be followed up with encouraging words.
Again, use strong adverbs and verbs to support the applicant, and state how his or her skills and work ethics would benefit the recipient’s company.
This states that the reason the applicant leaving the position is by his or her own choice, not through termination.
This can be used to emphasize the desirable qualities of the applicant, and raises the applicant’s value and importance.