Sample Recommendation Letters for a Promotion

This illustration shows what to include in a promotion recommendation letter including "Show candidate's ethics & skill set as apt foundation for promotion," "Specific examples to prove your points," "Match candidate's skills to the job they're applying for," and "Demonstrations of candidate's leadership or maturity."

 Theresa Chiechi / The Balance

Recommendation letters aren’t just useful tools for job seekers hoping to land a position at a new employer. A solid recommendation can also help an employee get a promotion at their current company.

During the course of your career, you may be called upon to write a recommendation letter for a promotion for a colleague or direct report. A positive endorsement can make all the difference, helping the candidate stand apart from a similarly qualified crowd of applicants.


If you're writing to request a promotion for yourself, here are sample cover letters for a promotion or internal opportunity.

What to Include in Your Letter

1. Keep It Positive. When you agree to write a letter for someone, make sure you can give them a glowing recommendation. Anything less can work against them. If you can’t be enthusiastic in your support, it’s better to graciously decline.

2. Introduce Yourself Appropriately. Your letter should start with a polite salutation, followed by your purpose for writing. You will want to introduce yourself, and state in what capacity you have known the applicant.

3. Be Specific in Your Recommendations. Next, you should explain how the person’s work ethic and skill set make him or her a good choice for the promotion. Use specific examples to prove your points. Focus on times that the person has demonstrated leadership or maturity, to prove they are ready to handle the responsibility of a new position.

4. Keep the Job Description in Mind. Try to match the person’s skills and abilities to the job they are applying for. You might ask the person for the job description as well as an updated resume so that you can focus on keywords that are used in the job listing.

5. Offer Additional Assistance. In closing, you can offer to elaborate or answer any additional questions. Be sure to provide your contact information so that the hiring manager can easily reach you.

Review Letter Samples

It is a good idea to review recommendation letter and email examples before writing your own. Examples can help you see what kind of content you should include in your letter. Examples can also help you with the layout and format of your letter.

While examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point for your letter, you should always customize your message.


Be sure to take the time to personalize your letter, note, or email message, so it reflects your sincere appreciation and the reason why you are writing.

Sample Recommendation Letters for a Promotion

You can use this sample as a model to write a recommendation letter. Download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.

recommendation letter for promotion

Sample Reference Letter for a Promotion (Text Version)

Nancy Jones
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345

September 1, 2021

David Lee
Director, Marketing
Acme Marketing
123 Business Road
Business City, NY 54321

Dear Mr. Lee,

I would like to recommend Lucy Crumb for the position of Marketing Manager at Acme Marketing. Lucy has worked in the Marketing department for three years, and when I came on board last year, I immediately recognized her as the person to ask when I had a question. She is a natural leader, and her organizational skills are exceptional.

Lucy’s ability to plan a strategy, and make sure that it’s implemented accurately and quickly have contributed immensely to the recent successes in our department. In fact, she was the team leader on two of our most recent, successful projects.

She is creative and hardworking and often helps out colleagues on other projects. I believe the department would continue to thrive and grow with Lucy as Marketing Manager. Her knowledge of the industry and her experience with the company make her an excellent candidate for promotion.

Please let me know if I can offer additional information.


Signature (hard copy letter)

Nancy Jones

Promotion Reference Email Example

Here's a sample recommendation email message sent to recommend a colleague for a promotion.

Sample Promotion Reference Letter

Subject: John Smith - Recommendation for Promotion

Dear Katherine Blue,

I have worked closely with John Smith for the past several years while he has been employed as the Marketing Assistant in the Communications Office. I have been consistently impressed by both John's attitude towards his work and his performance on the job. I am confident that he would make an ideal Marketing Manager for the company.

John possesses solid writing skills, which have enabled him to compose quality correspondence and publications. He has even taken on additional writing responsibilities. He asked to take charge of our weekly newsletter, and since doing so, our office has praised his well-edited, thoughtful letters.

John is a tremendous asset to our office, and his expertise, the experience he has gained on the job, and the continuing professional development classes he has participated in making him a prime candidate for promotion.

I recommend him for a promotion without reservation. Please let me know if you need further information.

Linda Lau

Key Takeaways

Keep It Positive: If you can’t say something nice about your colleague or employee, it’s best to graciously decline.

Match the Candidate’s Qualifications to the Job Description: Use specific examples to strengthen your case.

Emphasize Leadership Skills: For a promotion, the ability to lead is especially important. Hiring managers will want to see these skills.

Use Sample Letters, But Be Sure to Customize: Personalize your recommendation letter so that it’s appropriate for the candidate and role.

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