How to write a reference letter

A reference letter can make or break a candidate's job prospects. It is the same as a recommendation letter. The only difference is that while the recommendation letter is sent to a known employer the reference letter is sent to an unknown employer.

Whether you are writing a reference letter or requesting one from your former professor or employer, you will find the information given in this article helpful.

Requesting a Reference Letter / Letter of Reference

Request a reference letter only from people who know you and your skills. For example, your former professors, employers, community leaders and influential friends are all good choices. As they need time to evaluate your credentials, be prepared to give them at least 7 days to write the letter.

During your conversation with prospective writers tell them everything about your accomplishments and goals. This information will help them write the right kind of reference letter for you. If you would like them to include any specific phrases or sentences in the letter, mention that too. Make sure that they are aware of your deadlines. If you do not receive the reference letter within 10 days, don't hesitate to contact them in person.

Writing a Reference Letter / Letter of Reference

If someone asks you to write a reference letter for her, it is indeed a great honor for you. But before you accept the request, ask yourself if you can honestly write positive things about the requester. If you can't, you should politely decline the request at the beginning itself. On the other hand, if you believe that you are the right person to write the letter, discuss with the requester what she would like you to write in the letter. Is there any special skill or personality trait that the applicant would like you to highlight? Ask her.

Request the applicant to give you a copy of her resume so that you can learn more about her accomplishments and educational or career history. Be sensitive to her deadlines.

How to Write a Reference Letter

Here are some easy guidelines.

Explain how you know the applicant and why you think that she stands out from the rest.

List the applicant's skills and qualities that would make her a suitable candidate for the position she has applied for. For instance, you can write about her competency in a specific field, her organizational and communication skills, reliability etc.

Do not write about the applicant's weaknesses.

State your own qualifications. If you don't list enough of them, the reader may not be impressed with your reference letter. List your own contact information.

Type your reference letter on a computer and then print it on a good quality ink-jet paper.

Choose your words carefully. Words can have positive and negative connotations. Here are a few adjectives that leave a positive impression: exceptional, honest, sincere, articulate, impressive, commendable, superior, intelligent, effective, sophisticated, efficient, able, dependable, confident, significant, mature, observant, imaginative and innovative.

Avoid adjectives and adverbs that leave a mediocre impression. Examples are: good, decent, nice, fair, fairly, enough, adequate, reasonable and satisfactory.

Sections in this article

Best resignation letter samples
Good resignation letter sample
Thank you letter to employer when leaving company
Formal letter example
Business letter writing tips
How to Write an Apology Letter
How to write a recommendation letter
Business Apology Letter Sample I
Personal Apology Letter Sample I
Email writing tips
Resume writing
How to write a cover letter
How to write a letter of enquiry
Standard phrases used in formal letters

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