The objective of a reference letter is to testify to a person’s or an applicant’s skills, character and achievements. A reference letter is, many-a-times, considered to be a recommendation letter as well. However, it is important to know that while a reference letter may be sent to an unknown employer, a recommendation letter is usually sent to a known employer. Nevertheless, the manner of writing is the same. Since a reference letter is a formal document; it is to be written in business-like style and should be serious in tone. In case you are on the lookout for some tips on how to write a reference letter, read the article to find some valuable suggestions.
Writing A Recommendation Letter
- Begin the reference letter by explaining how you happen to know the applicant and specify the period of your association with him/her.
- Mention in what respect is this person exceptional to others you have known, with the same background. List the exceptional qualities and skills, particularly the ones that are related to the applicant’s field of interest or job search. Try to give specific examples to back up and substantiate what you have written.
- Refer to the competency of the applicant in a specific field and/or prior experience, organizational and communication skills, academic or other achievements, interaction with others, sound judgment, reliability and analytical ability.
- Mention your own qualifications. Since you are recommending the applicant, your qualifications are a must to prove your credibility. This will impress the reader and make the reference letter appear more authentic.
- Make sure to emphasize the main points that you would like the reader to take note of. It is important to elaborate meaningfully, so that the reference letter doesn’t come across as an overstatement of the applicant’s ability or merely as a restatement of what he/she has already written in the application letter.
- Do not refer (either directly or indirectly) to the applicant's race, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, or marital status, unless it is extremely significant in a certain context.
- Don’t be too brief or too elaborate. Write in a way and manner that the reader is inspired to read the entire letter and counts every word as honest. Generally, a reference letter for employment should be of one page, while a reference letter for school or university admission can be of one to two pages.
- If you are willing to entertain follow-up correspondence or answer questions pertaining to the reference letter, you can also mention your contact information.
- Take care that you proofread the letter after writing. Since the letter of reference is reflective of both, you and your applicant, silly grammatical errors can give just the opposite impression.
Things To Avoid In A Reference Letter
- Any weakness of the candidate
- Anything that may be considered libelous
- An informal manner of writing, which may include jokes, slang or a casual language that may be considered inappropriate
- Any personal information that has no relevance to the application
- Sloppy mistakes and spelling errors