Top Tips for IELTS

Employee of the year letter

In this lesson I show you a sample letter where you need to suggest the employee of the year. It’s a more formal letter and in the lesson you’ll find tips on

writing more formal letters

structuring the letter

using better grammar

and words and ideas for writing letters about employees.

Reading and understanding the question

Every year, someone in the company where you work is chosen as best employee. Your manager has asked staff members to make suggestions about who should be chosen this year. 

Write a letter to your manager. In it you should

 Identify a colleague who you think should be best employee
Explain what the job of this colleague involve.
Give reasons why the colleague should be chosen as best employee.

The points to note as you read this question are:

it should be slightly more formal as you are writing to someone in a position of authority

there are 3 points you must include in your letter

you should make the purpose of the letter clear – that you are naming someone for employee of the year

you’ll need to use some employment vocabulary

The employee of the year letter

I am writing to propose Dominic Cole for the award of the employee of the year for 2016. He has proved himself to be a model employee and deserves special recognition. 

Dominic has been working for Alpha Solutions for around 5 years now and after a recent promotion is currently part of our interactive whiteboards sales team in our Cambridge branchHis role is to promote our latest range of products and to approach potential customers in schools, universities and other educational institutions who might be interested in converting their classrooms to use ICT.

I believe he should be named employee of the year for helping his team not just reach but exceed their sales target by 150 per cent. This was thanks to his enthusiasm for his job and his hardworking attitude which inspired his colleagues to work harder. Generally he sets an excellent example by always being the first one into the office as well as doing unpaid overtime whenever it is needed. Everyone I think would agree about the influence he has on the team.

I do hope you consider Dominic for this award as his efforts on behalf of Alpha Solutions have been exceptional.

Task response and letter structure

Identifying the purpose in the introduction and conclusion

Note how I use the first and last paragraphs to make the purpose of the letter clear. It can help to think of these paragraphs as a very brief introduction and conclusion. All you need do is to make sure you vary the language between the two paragraphs slightly. One structure you should note is

I am writing to

This is a phrase you can borrow and use for more formal letters to make the purpose clear.

Paragraph structure

Often the best solution is to use a separate paragraph for each content point. But in this letter I have chosen to combine two content points together in one paragraph. This is because the first point (identifying the employee is only a brief point) and fits naturally with the description of the job. When you do this it’s important to show that you are answering both parts of the question. I do this here by starting the second sentence “His role is”

Be clear to identify in your letter that you are covering all the content points

Tone and formality

There are a number of different ways you can make a letter more formal. Here are some of the techniques I use in this letter.

Standard phrases

Certain phrases are standard in more formal letters

I am writing to 

Long forms and abbreviations

We don’t use abbreviations such as “I’m ” when we write more formally

I believe he should be named employee of the year – less formally “I’m sure he should be the employee of the year”

Abstract nouns and verbs and adjectives

Abstract nouns tend to be used more in formal writing:

This was thanks to his enthusiasm and hardworking attitude – less formally “It really helped that he was so keen and worked so hard”

Some modal verbs

Sometimes the way we use modal verbs makes our writing more formal

Everyone I think would agree – less formally “I’m certain everyone else agrees”

Some emphatic forms

Some emphatic forms are much more common in more formal letters

I do hope you consider – less formally  “I really hope you consider”

Some structures

Some structures are more formal than others

whenever it is needed – less formally “if it’s necessary”

Ideas and vocabulary

My best suggestion if you get a letter question like this is to choose a job with which you are familiar – you’re much more likely to use better vocabulary that way. Here I have highlighted in red some of the more general work related vocabulary you can borrow.

Try to include some specific topic vocabulary – it doesn’t need to be very technical

I strongly suggest you think about what words you want to use before you write. Vocab is 25% of your score and when you’re writing a short letter it can be easy to either use over-simple words or repeat yourself too much. Here I jotted down these words before I wrote and I used most of them.

employee – job – team – promotion – office – salary

deserve – earn – merit

attitude -set example – influence

Think about the vocabulary you want to use before you write

In this letter I focussed on two reasons for the award – an achievement and personal qualities. Also see how I use precise examples to use a little bit more topic language:


meet/reach sales target and exceed it by 150 per cent

personal qualities

enthusiasm – inspiration

hardworking attitude – sets an example – first into the office – doing unpaid overtime

other ideas for good employees

These are other ideas for writing about the qualities of employees

team player – helpful –

good social skills – communication


take responsibility

proactive and self-motivated

reliable – long service



attention to detail



Note the different tenses I use in the letter and why I use them.

present tenses

These are to describe his job and his qualities, e.g.:

His role is to promote

He sets an excellent example

I also use present perfect (have tenses) when the past and present combine

He has proved himself

Dominic has been working for

His efforts… have been exceptional

past tenses

I use these to describe the event/achievement – i.e. something that is finished

This was thanks to 

which inspired his colleagues


Get more help with IELTS preparation on the main pages of my site

Home page

Speaking Guide

Writing Guide

Essay writing guide

Academic task 1 guide

Letter writing guide

Reading guide

Listening guide

IELTS vocabulary

IELTS grammar

Keep up with me on Facebook - all the updates and even more advice there


Or just get all my free lessons by email

Subscribe to DC IELTS by Email

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply