English Grammar Blog
Writing a Personal Reference Letter
A reference letter can decide the future of a prospective candidate, with rejection or acceptance being the end result. This guide is useful for people who need to request reference letters, or those who have to write them. The information here will make it easier to write the reference letter or request it.
A reference letter is basically the same thing as a recommendation letter, although the reference letter is for the perusal of an employer who is not known to the potential hire, while a recommendation letter is for a known employer. A reference letter is more of a document used for personal introduction, vouching for that person’s abilities, character, and integrity.
Tips on Writing a Personal Reference Letter
Here are just a few simple guidelines on writing a reference letter:
Indicate the competencies of the person who requested the reference letter, in the specific area or previous experience he or she has, as well as the person’s communication and organizational skills and academic achievements. Does he or she interact well with others, possess sound judgment, analytical capabilities, and so on? How does this person stand out from the rest of the people you have known from similar backgrounds? Note the person’s exceptional skills and qualities. Also back up these details with specific examples. State your own qualification requirements in conjunction with this information. The reader should be impressed by the data in your recommendation or reference letter.
With the competencies you have listed, focus on key information you want the prospective employer or reader to notice from the applicant’s resume or application form. Elaborate on these points without just restating what the person has written on the resume. Unless absolutely relevant to the prospective position or job, do not include information on the applicant’s nation of origin, religion, race, gender, civil status, or any disabilities. Do not indicate the applicant’s weaknesses either. Decline from writing a reference letter as soon as you are approached if you cannot write a positive one!
For the reference letter’s main content, try not to be too brief, as this may be considered as too blasé and noncommittal by the reader, who may be a potential employer. However, be precise, making each word in the letter count. In general, reference letters for employment should comprise a single page, and reference letters for admission to an educational institution around two pages. Conclude the ending with a strong statement, but do not overdo it, as this may overshadow the entire letter and give your reader the wrong impression. Unnecessary praise or commendations may be seen as insincere or overly biased.
Include your contact information for the employer to be able to contact you for subsequent correspondence or further inquiries.
Make sure the letter does not contain any errors, as this document represents both you and the person you wrote the reference letter for. Proofread at least a few times before sending the reference letter.
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