Reference Letter Sample Explaining a Layoff

Laid-off man in cubicle packing personal items into a container

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What's the best way to write a reference for someone who was laid-off from their job? What should it say, and what's the best way to phrase it? You can still write a strong recommendation for someone if they were laid off.

Typically, when an employee is laid off (as opposed to fired), it has nothing to do with personal performance. Therefore, it is easy to write a strong reference letter for someone in this situation.

Read below for advice on how to write a reference letter for someone who was laid off, and also sees a sample letter. This reference letter explains why the employee was laid off from her position, in addition to providing an excellent reference.

Reference Letter Sample – Explaining a Layoff

This is an example of a reference letter explaining a layoff, along with more examples below.

Screenshot of a reference letter sample explaining a layoff
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Reference Letter Sample – Explaining a Layoff

To Whom It May Concern,

Mary Foley has been employed by Company, Inc. since June 1, 20XX. During this period, she demonstrated all the qualities that employers seek in searching for promotable employees. She has an excellent capacity to quickly grasp new theories and applications and has always sought to gain additional responsibilities.

Mary's zeal to improve herself has been displayed by her attendance at evening school to complete her Master's Degree. Her competence is such that, in the absence of our Branch Manager, she was very capable of directing the entire workforce to get the job done. We even hired her as interim Branch Manager during this period due to her excellent leadership. She held this role while continuing her work as a graduate school student, further demonstrating her ability to multitask with great success.

It is unfortunate for Company, Inc. that, due to economic constraints, we must restructure our organization and lose valued employees such as Mary. I would recommend her without reservation for any position or career that she may choose to pursue.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call or email me.

George Evans
Director, Human Resources
Company, Inc.
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321

How to Use a Letter Sample

A letter example helps you with the layout of your letter. Examples also show you what elements you need to include, such as introductions and body paragraphs.

Along with helping with your layout, letter samples can help you see what kind of content you should include in your document, such as a brief explanation of a layoff.

While examples are a great starting point in your letter, you should always be flexible. You should tailor a letter example to fit your own job search and your relationship with the person you’re writing to.

Advice on Writing a Reference Letter Explaining a Layoff

A reference letter explaining a layoff should be very similar to any other reference letter. However, there are a few differences. Read below for tips on how to write a reference letter for someone who has been laid off.​

Focus on the Person’s Work History

Rather than focusing on when the person was laid off and unemployed, focus on the time when he or she was employed. Emphasize the successes they had at work or their particular qualities.

Focus on the Positive

Make sure your tone is positive about the job seeker throughout the letter. Even when you mention the layoff, emphasize how laying off this person was a loss for the company.

Provide Examples

While you should always provide specific examples for any reference letter, it is particularly important if the person was laid off. Offer one or two examples of how the person achieved success at the job, or how the person conveyed positive qualities or skills.

Briefly Explain the Layoff (if Appropriate)

If the person was laid off as a result of outside forces (such as downsizing or a company going out of business), explain this. However, keep it brief. You don’t want to focus on the layoff.

Think Carefully About Agreeing to Write the letter

If you do not feel comfortable writing the letter, simply say so. You might consider suggesting another person within the company that the person should speak to about a reference, or you might ask HR to write a letter.