Being an employer is a big responsibility. Your employees look to you for leadership, guidance, and instruction. But sometimes you may have to do a bit more than you expected.
No, this doesn’t just mean covering a shift when your employee calls in or briefing them on new training. It can also mean verifying their employment, which is something you may need to do in a variety of situations.
Your employees may need to verify their employment for a number of reasons. Lenders who give out loans, renters who manage real estate, and even certain clubs that have reoccurring subscription costs all want to know about the employment status of those who work with them.
This means you, the employer, may need to provide some documentation verifying they actually work where they say they do. But how do you go about this? What is the proper etiquette for such a document? You want to give them the right information, but you don’t want to compromise their privacy or violate any company policies regarding employee privacy. Where is the balance?
Knowing how to write an employment verification letter is important, and could come in handy. Even if you’ve never had to write one before in decades of managerial work, you never know when the task could come up.
Below is a guide on how to create this important document.
What Exactly is an Employment Verification Letter?
Before we can discuss how to write an employment verification letter, it is important to know exactly what it is. Of course, the basics are obvious – you’re the employer, and someone is seeking information about whether or not a person is employed by you and your organization as they said they are.
But it goes a little further than that. Employment verification letters are also known as proof of employment letters, and they can require a variety of information. This includes:
- Official Letterhead: If your company uses an official logo or seal on top of letters to verify they’re from the requested source, the employment verification letter should use the same format. Remember – these letters are being used by other professional organizations in most cases, so they want the same type of etiquette you’d use with a vendor, partner company, etc. A letterhead sets a professional tone from the start.
- Contact Information: Your recipient, whether they’re a renter, lender, or even another employer, may want to contact you to follow up and get more information. Therefore, it is wise to put your contact information on the letter – treat it just like any other professional task and list your business phone number and email address rather than your personal ones.
- Employee History: Though not always required, many employment verification letter requests ask you to do more than verify the person works for you. They ask for a brief summary of their employment history, including the length of their tenure with the company and how their performance has been.
Employment verification letters can come from many different sources. You may get this type of request from the employee themselves on behalf of the requesting organization, or even from a representative of the organization.
One of the most common requester of an employment verification letter is a lender. When someone applies for a loan or financing, the lender wants to know they can pay the loan back. Finding out if they have a stable job that pays well can mean the difference between a lender giving a loan or withholding it.
Renters are also known to request proof of employment letters. It doesn’t matter whether the person is renting a house, an apartment, a car, or any other piece of property – anyone who is considering renting to them wants to make sure they don’t end up with months of delayed payments or partial payments. Because of this, it is common they would request a letter of employment verification.
You may even get this type of request from a new employer your worker is applying to. This could be a job they plan to work alongside the one they have for you, or one they plan to move on to entirely. This type of letter is often requested right around the time an employee gives their notice – so while it can be hard to lose a member of your team, it at least lets you know they plan on leaving.
You can get an employment verification request from any of these parties, or even others – but the question many people have is how do they actually write the letter?
Beginning the Writing Process for Employment Verification
To start out writing an employment verification letter for one of your employees, you’ll need to go through a discussion period where you’ll collect all the necessary information. This likely means meeting with the employee and asking them what they would like included in the letter.
It is wise to take notes during this time, or if you don’t have a lot of time outside of your managerial duties, you can have the employee write or email the details to you. Common information included in these letters isn’t just limited to the employee’s tenure – it includes their greatest accomplishments, areas where they excel, areas where they’ve shown significant improvement, key obstacles they’ve overcome, creative problem solving, and special recognition or awards they’ve received from you or the company in general.
When you start writing the letter, remember to use specifics in the opening. After the company seal or header, you will want to write specifically to a person if possible – not to an organization. Think about how you’d want a cover letter addressed to you if someone was applying to work for your organization – while it would be okay to address it to the company, addressing it to the hiring manager is a much more specific and memorable step to start things off.
You can also substitute the department name or area of the business – such as the loan approval department, or housing association application processing group.
The next step is to introduce yourself. They know you’re the individual’s employer, but they may feel more comfortable knowing a bit about your background. You don’t have to be too extravagant or detailed – a few sentences will suffice nicely.
Next comes arguably the most important part of the letter – the body. What exactly should you include? And, just as important, what should you leave out?
The Perfect Body Paragraphs for Your Verification Letter
When you’re writing a verification letter for your employees, it is wise to divide the body up into at least three main paragraphs. The first should be dedicated to talking about how the employee came to your organization and the on-boarding process. Think back to when you first hired them. What impressed you the most?
The next paragraph should sum up their duties. What are their primary responsibilities, and did they take on any additional tasks outside of their job description? Did they advance to any superior positions based on unexpected openings or based on the company’s standard path for promotions? And how did they perform under pressure, during the company’s busiest times?
The final paragraph should sum up what you think about the employee. It is important to remember to be honest – you don’t want to sound like you’re selling a product, but you also don’t want to bury the employer either. If you do the latter, the employee will likely just throw the letter away. If you do the former, the recipient may become suspicious.
Close it out with a professional ending, and the aforementioned contact info in case the recipient wants to get in touch with you. End with “sincerely” or “yours truly,” and be sure to include your job title along with your signature. Your company may also use signatures and letterheads at the end of a letter. If so, add those in, too.
Also, don’t include any information that would be considered illegal or off limits. Salary information, any health problems or disabilities (even if the employee has made you aware of them), or other personal information should never be included unless the employee specifically requests it – you’ll want to get that request in writing, too.
Need Additional Help? Try Using a Template
Employment verification letters have become so common that there are multiple free templates out there you can use during the creation process. If you don’t feel like going through the headache of formatting a letter yourself, these can be very useful.
You may find yourself in a situation where the employee writes the letter themselves, and simply asks you to sign off on it. Of course, you’ll want to read over this and make sure it is accurate. You should also include your contact information as well, as any letter written by the employee will almost always warrant a double-check call or email from the recipient.
Lenders, renters, and other employers have to be careful about who they do business with, so it isn’t out of the ordinary that they may want proof of employment. Luckily, this letter is very similar to most of the documents you’ll write during a normal business day.