happy smiling  business woman  with thumb up gesture, on phoneAs much as you’d like to keep the best and the brightest employees at your company forever, eventually, the time will come for them to move on.

Giving a successful reference, at this time, is one of the best things that you can do for them. But before you jump the gun, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re giving a reference:

Take your time and do your research.  Make sure that you know all of the relevant information about the person you’re giving a reference for.  Don’t just blurt out a quick response or write a hasty, generic letter.  Give it the time and attention that your employee deserves.

Be specific to the employee.  What projects have they worked on that were particularly interesting or notable?  What contributions have they made that were above and beyond?  What characteristics make this employee stand out?  Since you’ve taken the time to do your research, you already know what makes this employee special, so take the time to mention it.

Avoid the negative.  If you’re giving a recommendation over the phone, you can’t dodge questions about an employee’s faults.  In many cases, however, your answers to questions about an employee’s less positive qualities will be more crucial than your answers concerning their successes.  Try not to be negative if you can avoid it, and give examples of positive traits that outweigh the negative when possible.

Be honest.  Don’t make up lies about a former employee or offer untrue information.  If you didn’t appreciate the work ethic or capabilities of a past employee, don’t lie to pass them on to someone else–but don’t downplay an employee’s capability just because your office wasn’t a good fit, either.  Be as honest as possible and let your employee’s capabilities speak for themselves.

Respond in a timely manner.  No company can wait forever, and the difference between a recommendation that’s sent out quickly and one that has waited for quite some time is an employee that has moved seamlessly into the job they’re hoping to acquire and one who is still waiting for their ideal position.

Giving a recommendation for an employee doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to be a time-consuming task.  You can write a stellar recommendation for a past employee without stressing over it.

For more information on giving a successful reference, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at  AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.