How to Write a Letter of Reference

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Reference letter, also known as recommendation letter, is a letter that speaks about a former acquaintance’s work experience, expertise, personal traits and skills, and/or academic performance. It is written if you can speak positively about that acquaintance, otherwise, it totally defeats the purpose.

A reference letter is required in the process of a candidate’s job search whether as an intern, a volunteer, or a job applicant. This is because it is his positive endorsement by someone, you, who knows him and, therefore, is very reassuring to the hirer.

If candidates are asked for one, naturally they have to give the letter in, if not, however, they can offer it themselves to expand their possibilities regarding the job opportunity.

Types of Cover Letter:

There are 2 kinds of reference letters that I have discussed below:

  • Professional Reference Letter: This is usually written by a supervisor, colleague, or a client. Even a teacher or a professor who is well aware of the candidate's accomplishments in a formal setting can write it for him. It includes a brief on his position and responsibilities, how long he has been part of the organization, and his qualifications and contributions to the potential hiring company.
  • Character/Personal Reference Letter: It can be written by a friend, someone the candidate considers his mentor or simply a neighbour who can attest to his traits. It explains how the writer personally knows him and discusses his attributes as they would fit.

Steps to Write a Cover Letter:

You will need some materials in hand before writing the reference letter. Ask for a copy of the seeker's resume and academic transcripts that will help you describe him properly. This helps, even if you have known him for very long because you want to use as much current information as possible. To write even better, ask for a description of the position he is applying for and company information. Also, collect details about the deadline, format, and recipient of the letter. The more the information, the stronger the recommendation will be.

The following steps are necessary to compose a good reference letter: 

  • Next, include information about the candidate's personal traits and specific skills like communication skills, organizational skills, etc. whichever are appropriate for the job. But don't generalise. Be specific as to the grounds on which you're telling that the candidate has these skills. In the following middle paragraphs of the letter, try to give brief but potent examples of the person using their skills and relate with the company's requirements.
  • In the first paragraph, explain your relationship with the candidate. Who you are and what he is or was to you, that is, your relationship. You can include how long you have known him. Then state the purpose of this letter in full detail.
  • Start with "Dear Mr./Ms. .………….[Last name]." If you do not know that, write, "Dear Hiring Manager”
  • Your subject can be “Recommendation for ……………[full name] as……………[position] of ……………..[company]”.
  • Unless you’re given a form on which to write your recommendation, you should write the reference as you would write a formal letter. It should begin with your and the employer's contact information, followed by the date.
  • In the closing paragraph, include your phone number and email ID for the company, so that they can ask for a verbal recommendation or ask further questions, if necessary. You can also reiterate your recommendation here.
  • End the letter with your handwritten signature and mention below that your typed name.

Tips for You:

Remember, before saying yes to write a reference letter for someone, you need to think. Does the person actually have the traits? Because at the end of the day, you'll have to write positive things about them. If you do not know the seeker of the letter very well or think that it will be a rough judgement to say positive things about someone that aren't very attributable to them, turn down the request. It is better to sound negative here than on the letter itself. Whatever you do, remember to change the letter according to the specific person and their job types.

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