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Defining Employment Letters
We define an employment letter as a type of business correspondence that provides information about a person’s employment status with a company. Employers often use these letters to confirm a current or former employee’s professional arrangement with the company, as well as other concerns that the third-party entity may want you to verify. The document may even include specific information you can use to identify an individual, such as a person’s date of birth and social security number. It’s an important form of communication between an employer and a prospective employer or third party to help validate a claim, while also documenting the exchange for legal purposes. And to help determine the legitimacy of the letter, one of the most important components to look for is the signature of the employer’s authorized representative.
Why Is it Necessary?
These days, nearly everything must be in writing for reasons that all point to a business and a legal intention. Third-party verification is often necessary for further confirmation of a person’s claims regarding their employment, especially if there are certain items in the application that employers are very particular about. That’s because letters of employment are less risky compared to reference letters and recommendation letters, which don’t tell much about an employee’s specific work details. In other cases, people need employment letters to rent out a property, apply for a loan, or get a new job.
And since these letters are crucial for a multitude of reasons, you must take the time to understand what to emphasize in the letter to meet a request and make the right impression.
How Does It Differ from a Background Check or Reference Letter?
It’s easy to confuse employment confirmation or verification letters with background checks or references. A background check is a process that demands a more in-depth look into a person’s employment history, past addresses, and potential records of criminal activity. It goes into every minor detail of an individual’s private life and work experiences. On the other hand, a reference check takes a broader approach to the situation by discussing a fair amount of details about an employee’s personality and work ethics. Reference letters tend to pay more attention to who a person is as a professional, to ease the recruitment process for potential employers.
And in contrast to the previous two, employment letters tackle nothing but the facts about an individual’s employment status, including their job title, years of employment, and other related details. That way, it stays focused only on what is necessary, making it an essential requirement in many formal applications.
When Do You Write an Employment Letter?
While running a business, you might have employees who’ll request an employment letter for whatever purpose. And with the U.S. employment rate at 60.4% in 2018, as discovered by Statista, you can only imagine the number of employment letters produced every day. In most cases, employees use these letters to validate their work history for another party to acknowledge. Some common reasons for an employee to ask you to write an employment letter include the following:
How Do You Construct a Good Employment Letter?
First things first: never allow an employee to compose an employment letter by themselves and under your name. It might sound tempting to leave all the work to someone else while all there’s left for you to do is to sign it—the easy way out isn’t always the best option. Moreover, slacking off will only put your company’s reputation at stake, especially if you fail to review and revise the letter when necessary. Letters like this have to be personal yet professional enough to get the right message across. Doing so will put you in control of what information readers have the right to receive based on what you share.
For further directions on how to create an accurate proof of employment letter, refer to the guide below.
1. Gather the Essential Details
Be mindful of the details you note in your message. The company or firm you are writing to might have several requirements that you must include in the employment letter. Most letters should contain the name of the employee, their position in the company, the duration of their employment, as well as their annual income. Remember only to note down the information that was asked for; otherwise, you may want to avoid mentioning it in your letter. Be sure to ask the employee for a list of details that the recipient expects to find in the letter for reference. It’s best to prepare a checklist, so you don’t end up leaving anything important out. Knowing the specifics of the employment letter beforehand should help streamline the writing process.
2. Use a Business Format and Tone
Always consider your audience when writing any form of business correspondence. It’s also best to use a formal tone when dealing with employers, banks, financiers, and property managers. Using simple language and shorter sentences will always come as an advantage to you and the person reading your letter. Following the format of a business letter should also keep your letter professional and easy to read, as it creates a smooth flow of suitable material for your content. That would mean including an appropriate salutation at the beginning and a handwritten signature at the very end.
Staying relevant to the topic is another essential tip to remember to help you maintain the conciseness of your letter. Because a person’s college loan, mortgage loan, or future career move could be on the line, you have to make sure you’re pulling on all the right strings when crafting the letter.
3. Introduce Yourself
While you may be writing on behalf of the company, you’ll want to let the recipient know what authority you have to act as a representative. Hence, the first part of your letter should explain who you are, why you are writing, and what relation you have to the employee. You can also mention how long the subject has been working for the company or under your management. For instance, you can specify your position as the company’s HR manager and that you’ve been working with the employee for the past five years. Additionally, a brief introduction should help you gain the trust of the person you are addressing the letter to, so whatever claims you make may be advantageous to one’s case.
4. Stick to the Facts
Resist the urge to state your opinions about an employee unless the person you are writing to requests for one. It’s always a good idea to only include information that is verifiable by records. Not only does it make the content of your letter credible, but it also helps simplify your message for readability and conciseness. It should keep you from getting into legal trouble with either party as well. But if an employee can provide an employment form that you can fill in with data directly, then all the better. Employment information forms make the process a whole lot easier because of how the data requested remains specific to its primary purpose.
5. Include Company Information
Notice how most business letters come with a company letterhead?
Apart from building the letter’s formality, it also makes sense to include essential information about the company writing the letter by adding an official letterhead. If they have further questions or concerns that you can verify, recipients can quickly reach out to you through the details indicated in the letterhead. It typically consists of the company name, contact details, and mailing address that employers and banks can use as a reference. And so they know who to get in touch with if they feel the need to clarify specific details mentioned in the letter, don’t hesitate to write down your phone number and email address at the end of the employment letter.
6. Don’t Attach Formal Documentation
Avoid sending private employee documentation to another organization, including personnel records, individual reports, and other documents deemed confidential. You need to have the proper authority to share this information with someone else, especially if it can be damaging to the subject’s reputation. Or worse, it may even put your company at risk of releasing sensitive data that no other company or agency should be able to access. Be sure to verify this with the employee requesting the letter to determine what they can allow you to specify in the letter and what remains off-limits.
What NOT to Include in the Employment Letter
There are a few things to avoid mentioning in your employment letter. While there are no existing federal laws that dictate what you can and cannot disclose in an employment letter, some civil and state laws help protect the privacy of employees by limiting what you can discuss in the correspondence.
One of the things you shouldn’t talk about in an employment verification letter is an employee’s performance at work. Confidential information like this may potentially damage a person’s reputation and lead to pitfalls that would get you in trouble with the authorities. The law also prohibits the mention of any class-protected information deemed discriminatory toward an employee. Such cases include an employee’s marital status, health, religion, and sexual orientation. It’s best not to include anything beyond what the employee or third party asks for so as not to put yourself in a tricky situation.
Familiarizing these laws and protection policies should help you avoid any legal challenges that come your way.
Regardless of the number of employees you manage, you always need to prepare yourself for instances that will require you to write a clear and concise employment letter. It’s a big responsibility that employees expect you to take seriously. Hence, using an employment letter template can be a huge help to ease the burden of writing. By taking the purpose and scope of the letter into consideration, you’ll be able to craft a professional correspondence in no time!