At some point in your career, you may be asked to write a promotion recommendation letter for a co-worker or a member of your team. While it’s great to be supportive of your colleagues’ career goals, you might be at a loss for what to do. That’s okay! Once you know what needs to be included, you can write an impressive letter of recommendation to help your co-worker stand out from the competition.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to write a promotion recommendation letter, including:
What is a promotion recommendation letter?
Common reasons for writing a letter of recommendation
What to include in a letter of promotion recommendation
Tips to ensure your employee stands out
Sample promotion recommendation letter
What is a promotion recommendation letter?
The meaning of a promotion recommendation letter isn’t too cryptic — it’s a letter that you write for someone you’ve worked with, usually as their supervisor, that substantiates their background, skills, and abilities, and how they’d be successful in a new position. It's generally sent to the "higher ups" in a company, and is similar to a reference letter, except that a reference letter is meant for another company where the employee is seeking a new job, whereas a promotion recommendation letter is written on behalf of the employee and used to gain an internal promotion.
Why you might write a promotion recommendation letter
Whether the employee is seeking a promotion of their own volition, or you feel that it’s time for them to move up the corporate ladder, there are several reasons why you might be motivated to write a promotion recommendation letter:
They’re highly skilled at their job
The employee works well with their teammates and has garnered respect
They are excellent problem solvers
They’ve grown as a person and as an employee
They demonstrate qualities that are supported by the company culture
They’re a solid leader
The employee is self-motivated and doesn't need to be constantly "managed"
But hey — if you have an employee who demonstrates all these qualities, wouldn't you want to keep them in their current position? Not so fast. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, career inertia, alongside feeling disrespected and salary disappointment is one of the top reasons employees leave their jobs. Keeping employees in-house and upwardly mobile keeps both morale and productivity high, which benefits everyone.
4 Things to include in a promotion recommendation letter
A promotion recommendation letter has a very specific purpose — to recommend someone for a promotion. So while you do want to be thorough, you also want to make sure you include the necessary information to make your letter convincing and effective. Four things you should incorporate into the letter include:
An introduction. Who you are and in what capacity you know the employee
An explanation as to how the employee’s skills and attributes align with the job description
Specific examples of the employee’s work ethic, resourcefulness, and expertise
An offer to answer other questions the recipient might have about the employee
The most important thing to remember about writing a promotion recommendation letter is that you should keep it encouraging and upbeat. If you feel you can’t write anything other than a glowing letter of recommendation, it might be better for you to decline.
According to a survey by Clear Company, employee retention is 34% higher among employees who have opportunities for professional development. Additionally, 76 percent of employees are looking for career growth opportunities, and 86 percent of employees say they’d change jobs for one with more growth opportunities.
Tips to ensure the candidate stands out
Before sitting down to write a promotion recommendation letter, it might be helpful to do a little homework. Getting all your “ducks in a row” before writing the letter will help you keep your thoughts organized and ensure that you include all the relevant information you need.
Create a list of why the employee deserves the promotion, including projects you’ve collaborated on, the outcome, the employee’s hard and soft skills, as well as their achievements. While you probably won’t use all of them, it will give you a wealth of information to choose from.
Create a timeline that shows the employee's career growth. This can demonstrate the candidate's ability to adapt and grow. Include any of their achievements, as well.
Include quantifiable data, when possible.
Talk to other supervisors and get their input on the employee's performance. There's strength in numbers and additional positive feedback from others can strengthen the employee’s chances of receiving the promotion — but make sure you have their permission before using their name in your letter.
Indicate that you’re available for further discussion. Keeping the lines of communication open shows that you’re confident in the employee’s abilities, and allows you to answer any other questions the hiring manager may have.
Promotion recommendation letter template
Your name Job title Phone number Email address
Contact name Their job title
Dear [recipient’s name. Use their first name if you have a professional relationship, otherwise use a prefix and their last name]:
[In the first line of the paragraph, state the purpose for writing the letter, including the employee’s name, and offer an introduction. Reference a few skills that you think qualify them for the promotion.]
[In the second paragraph, give further details about the employee’s skills and experience. You can also give an example of the employee’s demonstrated growth in their current position, as well as any achievements including quantifiable data.]
[In the last paragraph, mention anything that further supports your case. You may also reference any other managers/supervisors who agree with your assessment that the employee deserves the promotion.]
[Let the recipient know you’re available if they need any more information about the candidate, and restate the main reason why you’re offering a recommendation about them.]
Yours truly, [Your name]
Example of a promotion recommendation letter
Now that you have a basic outline of a promotion recommendation letter, here is an example of what it might look like in practice:
Susan Smith Regional Director of Sales 312-555-1234 email@example.com
September 17, 2023
Mark Hanson Supervising Sales Director
I’m writing this letter on behalf of Marcia Jones, to recommend her for the position of Associate Sales Director. Marcia has been a field representative for the last four years. When I started as Regional Director, two years ago, I quickly realized she was the "go-to" person for any questions I had about how the department was run. I am continually impressed with her work, as she is highly organized, a strong leader, and has a strong attention to detail.
Marcia’s ability to communicate with our clients and anticipate their needs has been a major factor in our team’s outstanding performance. In fact, she was the top field rep for the last three quarters, exceeding her sales quota by at least 22%. She is also willing to take on extra responsibility, such as covering for other field reps when they’re on leave, and she has been able to effectively manage the extra workload with no loss in revenue or client satisfaction.
Lastly, Marcia is consistently working to improve her job performance and takes advantage of any available professional development opportunities. She is willing to ask for help when needed, asks for contrastive feedback, and is always available to teach her teammates what she’s learned at professional workshops and seminars.
For these reasons, and more, I am happy to recommend Marcia Jones for the position of Associate Sales Director. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to discuss her qualifications further.
Yours truly, Signature (if it’s a hard copy letter) Susan Smith
Facilitating career growth for employees should be one of the highlights of a manager’s job. By writing a letter that demonstrates their skills, growth, and talent, you can help them get that promotion and take the next step in their career path.
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A promotion recommendation letter is a letter that you write for someone you’ve worked with, usually as their supervisor, that substantiates their background, skills, and abilities, and how they’d be successful in a new position.
There are several reasons that you might write a promotion recommendation letter, including that they’re highly skilled at their job, they work well with their team, and they are excellent problem solvers.
You should only write a promotion recommendation letter if you can be positive and supportive. Otherwise, you should decline the opportunity.