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How to Write a Letter of Reference for Your Employees When a Company Is Forced to Close

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Writing reference letters for employees when your company closes is a way to help staffers find new jobs. Letters should emphasize the qualities and traits that make the employees valuable assets and that establish them in a positive light. Use your name and title in your letters to enhance their credibility.

Use Company Letterhead

Write your letters on official company stationary, even if the company is closing. Make the focus of the letter your employee’s skills and strengths and leave the news about the business closure until the end of the letter. If there’s anything about the company’s closure that could reflect negatively on the employees, make note that you’re available to answer questions and clarify the situation. Provide your personal phone or email where a prospective employer can reach you for more information.

Write Individual Letters

Try to personalize your letters as much as possible. Refer to each staffer by name, explain your relationship to her and characterize what makes her an asset to a business. For example, you might write, “I had the privilege of managing Janet in our communications department for several years. Her outgoing personality, strong work ethic and commitment to quality make her an exceptional marketing professional who will be an asset to any company.” If a staffer received industry recognitions or in-house awards for major achievements, mention these as well.

Make Letters Multi-Purpose

Your employees might be open to a variety of different job opportunities, so don’t make the focus of your recommendation letter the specific job an employee held with your company. For example, your marketing director might ultimately seek a job in publishing, advertising or corporate communications. Focus the letter on her writing ability, creativity, ability to meet tough deadlines and ability to problem-solve under pressure. Using this approach, your staffer can use the letter for multiple purposes.

Provide Several Copies

Give each staffer several copies of hand-signed letters to use in their job searches. If an employee requests a letter geared toward a specific employer or line of work, accommodate the request, if possible. In particular, if you know the employer the letter is going to, make it more conversational and personal to give the employee an extra edge.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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