How to Write a Reference Letter
Write a thoughtful, sincere reference letter and help a friend! Say the wrong things and you're a goat!
- Explain how you know the applicant.
How long have you known the person, and in what relationship or circumstance?
- State your qualifications for writing the reference letter.
Why should the reader be interested in your reference? How many other people of the applicant's caliber have you known, and why does the applicant stand out?
- List the applicant's exceptional qualities and skills,
especially those that are specific to the applicant's field of interest or job requirements. For example, competency in his/her field or prior experience, organizational and communication skills, academic or other achievements, interaction with others, sound judgment, reliability, analytical ability, etc.
- Emphasize key points that you want the reader to note on the applicant's resume or job application.
Be sure to elaborate meaningfully; don't simply restate.
- Give your judgment of the applicant, his/her qualifications and potential.
Why should he/she be considered over other people? How does he/she compare to other people you have known? Do not state weaknesses. If you can't write a positive letter of reference, you should respectfully decline.
- Give specific examples to back up what you have said about the person's qualifications and character.
Remember, generalized praise is a waste of space.
- Avoid discrimination
Unless it is absolutely relevant, do not state (directly or by implication) the applicant's race, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender or marital status.
- Don't be too brief.
One or two short paragraphs are death to a reference letter. On the other hand, be succinct. Make every word count. Here is a rule of thumb: a letter of reference for employment should be one page; a letter of reference for school should be one to two pages.
- Make the ending statement strong without overdoing it.
Undue praise can be viewed as biased or insincere.
- List your contact information
if you are willing to field follow-up correspondence.
The letter of reference represents both you and the applicant.
Reference Letter Tips
- Make sure you know the person and the person's capabilities. If you are a relative, you are not a good choice.
- Be sure to ask for enough time if necessary (7-10 days, if possible) to write the reference letter.
- Ask for their goals and advice on what you might write to help achieve those goals. Be specific; general praise is a waste of space. Don't be shy. A reference letter is a sales letter to sell another. Now is the time to brag!
- Ask for a review of your conversation. Get suggestions for your reference letter. You may need ideas to help you write.
- State your connection with the person you are recommending, why he or she is qualified and the specific skills the person has.
- Write only complimentary, yet factual, observations. Avoid unflattering or derogatory remarks. If you cannot do this, you should decline to write the letter.
- Remember that potential employers are good at 'reading between the lines,' and any negative implication may destroy a person's chance at getting the new job.
Unleash Your Creativity With The Power to Brainstorm
Can you quickly think of the right words as you write letters? Most people cannot so we asked ourselves, "Can we simulate having a professional writer by their side?" After years of research and development, we succeeded. Now you can write creatively with the help of 4,001 Business, Sales & Personal Letters.
- We wrote each letter following specific steps. Now you can have access to all those steps for all the letters, plus the entire collection of letters, along with appropriate phrases and sentences to add your personal touch.
- View our sample compliment letters to see how phrases and sentences for each writing step can help you write creatively.
How writing your letter can be as easy as 1, 2, 3!
- Find a reference letter that fits your needs and copy it directly into Microsoft Word or your favorite word processor.
- Or let our letter recipes guide you step-by-step through the writing process, suggesting sample phrases and sentences for each writing step. In minutes, you can write an effective reference letter.
- Print your reference letter and send it!
Try our Letter-Writing Templates Risk Free for 30 Days
& Sales Letters
4,001 Business, Sales
& Personal Letters
Windows & Mac
||New Mac OS X 10.6 and Higher
||Windows CD $24.99
||Windows CD $34.99
||Windows CD $39.99
It is fast and easy. If you ever need to redownload, you can for free—anytime!