Writing an Effective Reference Letter

A personal reference letter is something people need in many situations. It may be required for a job interview, applying to get into college or even to rent a home. Essentially, a reference letter is a recommendation for the person you’re writing it about. It’s important that you feel you can honestly say good things about the person and a reference letter template may help with this.

The letter of reference is a legal document, so be sure you mean what you write. If you’re not sure what to write, the template and reference letter examples will work quickly and easily.

How to Write a Reference Letter

A reference letter template will help you create a quality recommendation. Your letter of reference needs to cover a few different things, including:

Introduction: Chances are, the reader has no idea who you are and why your opinion is relevant. Start the letter out with a couple of lines sharing who you are, your position and how you know the candidate you’re writing about. You may also want to mention how long you’ve known them.

Description of Candidate: The next paragraph should cover the facts about the person you’re writing about, or the candidate. If you taught or hired the person, write the dates that they were working or studying with you. At this point, confirm grades or salary, as appropriate.

Analysis of Candidate: Next, explain what skills and qualities the person possesses that you find admirable. Let the reader know exactly where this person’s strengths lie. If they’re amazing at figuring out tough problems or can organize people with just a few words, mention that. Would you hire or teach them again? Add this information, if so.

Examples: You probably have a few examples you can share, highlighting the candidate’s strengths. A couple of examples is all you need here.

Conclusion: Finish the letter of reference up with a recap of the character of the person you’re writing about. Then let people know if you are willing to be contacted in the future. If so, add your contact information.

Sign off with a formal conclusion, just like you would with any business letter. It’s a good idea to go back over the letter and proofread it, just to be sure.

Keep in mind that the letter of reference also needs to be properly formatted. It should look like a business letter, with the address at the top, and a pleasant greeting. It’s not always possible to know who is going to receive the letter, so address it to “To whom it may concern” if you don’t know.

Reference Letter Templates

If you’re not sure how to write a reference letter, you can use a reference letter template to work with. These give you the basics of everything you need to write and can be easily worked through to provide a high quality letter. Otherwise, just look at some examples of reference letters and write your own in the same format.

A letter of reference can often be the tipping factor when it comes to landing an interview for a student or potential employee. You should only say yes to those people you know you can honestly recommend in good conscience. A reference letter should be short, to the point and correct. Remember, it’s your reputation on the line if you recommend someone and they then cause problems, so be honest, but avoid negativity. If you aren’t comfortable writing the letter, just say no.

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