How to write a reference letter?
Writing a reference letter involves several essential steps to communicate the individual's qualifications and attributes effectively. Here are the steps you need to consider with specific examples:
Step 1: Understand the purpose and context
Before writing a reference letter, it's important to understand the purpose and context for which your coworker or former employee requests it.
For example, suppose you're writing a reference letter for a job application. In that case, you should review the job description and the candidate's resume to identify the skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the position.
Step 2: Introduction and opening statement
Begin the letter with a professional salutation and introduce yourself. State your relationship with the individual and how long you have known them.
Here's an example:
Dear [Recipient's Name],
I am writing this reference letter at the request of [Candidate's Name], who has asked me to share more details on their qualifications for the position of [Job Title].
Step 3: Provide an overview of the relationship
Describe the nature of your relationship with the individual and the context in which you have interacted. This could include details about their role, responsibilities, and notable accomplishments.
I have enjoyed working closely with [Candidate's Name] for the past four years at [Company/Organization]. They joined our team as a [Position] and quickly distinguished themselves as a dedicated and talented professional.
Step 4: Highlight key skills and qualities
Identify and elaborate on the candidate's key skills, qualities, and accomplishments relevant to the reference letter's purpose.
Use specific examples or anecdotes to illustrate their strengths.
Here's an example:
One of [Candidate's Name] 's greatest strengths is their exceptional communication skills. They consistently demonstrated the ability to clearly articulate complex ideas and build strong relationships with both clients and colleagues. I witnessed their ability to diffuse challenging situations and find creative solutions several times.
Step 5: Discuss character, work ethic, and professionalism
Comment on the individual's work ethic, reliability, and professionalism. Provide specific instances where they demonstrated these qualities.
Regarding work ethic, I've been consistently amazed by [Candidate's Name] 's dedication and commitment. They consistently went above and beyond to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work. Their attention to detail and strong organizational skills were instrumental in streamlining our team's processes and improving overall efficiency.
Step 6: Conclude with a strong recommendation
Summarize your overall assessment of the individual and provide a strong recommendation. Express your belief in their potential and the skills they possess.
Here's an example:
In light of [Candidate's Name] 's exceptional skills, strong work ethic, and impressive professional demeanor, I wholeheartedly recommend them for the position of [Job Title]. I do not doubt she would be a valuable asset to any team or organization.
Step 7: Offer contact information and availability
Provide your contact information if the recipient has further questions or requires additional information. Indicate your willingness to discuss the candidate further if needed.
Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at [Phone Number] or [Email Address]. I am available to discuss [Candidate's Name] 's qualifications in more detail or provide further insight into their abilities.
Step 8: Closing and sign-off
End the letter with a professional closing and your signature.
Here's an example:
Thank you for considering my recommendation. I am confident that [Candidate's Name] would significantly contribute to your organization.Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Title/Organization]
Important! Remember, these steps and examples can be adapted and customized based on the specific requirements and context of the reference letter you are writing.
Reference letter writing tips
Here are 10 essential tips for writing a reference letter:
- Express a positive and enthusiastic tone about recommending the person.
- Share specific examples of the person's relevant skills, qualities, and accomplishments. Be as concrete as possible.
- Discuss how long you have known the person and in what capacity. Explain the relationship and context. Be sincere.
- Highlight the person's relevant strengths, skills, and experience. Focus on attributes that would be relevant for the specific position.
- Express confidence in the person and their future success. Mention their potential for growth and career advancement.
- Offer to provide further information if needed. Include your contact information in your closing.
- Avoid writing about private details that are not relevant in this context.
- Customize and personalize each letter. Form letters seem insincere—tailor content to the recipient.
- Ask the person for a copy of the job listing or college information to understand what skills and qualities to emphasize in your recommendation.
- Be concise; keep the letter to one page.
Letter of reference template
Find below a sample template reference letter that can be used by a manager, supervisor, or even CEO to highlight the professional relation, skills, and achievements of a colleague or former employee when applying for a new job. Current times are quite volatile and uncertain, with many layoffs, financial crises, and even good employees need to find a new role. A reference letter can differentiate between another submission and an extraordinary one.
Download The Reference Letter Template
Dear Mr/Ms (Name of Recipient):
(Short introduction paragraph - Include a brief statement about yourself and the letter's aim.)
(Provide information about your relationship with the person being recommended and information about the individual, such as positions, employment dates, and duties.)
(Include a statement indicating whether the person is qualified or recommended by you.)
(Provide specific examples that support your recommendation.)
(Close the letter strong by summarizing your recommendation and indicating whether you are willing to interact with the recipient further.)
(Title – if applicable)
(Optional – Email address/Phone number)
Reference letter examples
Based on everything we have discussed above, we're providing two concrete examples of a reference letter showcasing character and the positive elements of the employee we want to recommend.
Below you can find examples of our reference letters for Jane Athlon to be hired as a data analyst and Julia Alquist as a senior HR manager.
Download The Reference Letter Example
Reference letter - Data Analyst
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing to recommend Jane Athlon for a position as a data analyst. Jane worked as a data analyst at ABC Insights, for five years, from 2018 to 2023. I was her direct supervisor during that time.
Jane is an exceptionally bright, driven, and capable data analyst. She has a proven track record of analyzing data, identifying key insights and trends, and presenting the results clearly and compellingly. For example, Jane analyzed over two years of historical data for a significant customer and identified new product opportunities that could increase revenue by over 25% yearly.
Beyond her technical and analytical skills, Jane is also a highly collaborative team player. She communicates effectively at every level of the organization. I am confident she would be an extremely valuable addition to your team.
Please let me know if you require any further information by email at Marcus@abci.co. I highly recommend Jane for this data analyst position or any other analytical role she may be interested in. She has my strongest recommendation.
Download The Reference Letter Sample
Reference letter - Senior HR Manager
Dear Recruiting Committee,
I am writing this letter to recommend Julia Alquist for the position of Senior HR Manager. I have had the privilege of working with Julia for seven years at DT Software. I can confidently say that Ms. Alquist is an exceptional professional with all the qualities that make for a senior HR manager.
Julia has demonstrated an incredible ability to manage complex HR tasks and easily navigate challenging situations. She has an innate ability to understand the needs of the company and its employees and to balance those needs in a way that benefits everyone. Julia has a deep understanding of employment law and regulations and is always up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. She even helped transition many of our operations from paper and Excel-based to cloud-based HR and leave management apps that increased satisfaction, productivity, and efficiency.
What sets Julia apart, however, is her character. Julia is one of the most ethical and trustworthy individuals I have ever worked with. She has a strong sense of integrity and always operates honestly and transparently. She is also a great listener and communicator and has a talent for building strong relationships with employees, management, and stakeholders.
Ms Alquist is a natural leader who inspires confidence and trusts in others. She is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that the HR department operates smoothly and that all employees are satisfied with their working conditions. Julia is also a team player who understands the importance of collaboration and teamwork.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Julia for the position of Senior HR Manager if you are looking for a solid professional with a strong character who is passionate about HR and committed to delivering results that benefit both the company and its employees. Please feel free to contact me at 609-419-3801 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information.
DT Software Inc.
FAQs Reference letter
What do you write in a reference letter?
In short, within a reference letter, you need to address the following elements:
- Introduction and opening statement
- Provide an overview of the relationship
- Highlight key skills and qualities
- Discuss character, work ethic, and professionalism
- Conclude with a strong recommendation
- Offer contact information and availability.
What exactly is a job reference letter?
A reference letter for employment is a recommendation from a line manager or supervisor for a potential new job opportunity. The letter typically offers instances of the candidate's character, work ethic, and skills.