How to write a character reference letter: Complete Guide and Example
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How to write a character reference letter

How to write a character reference letter

A character reference letter can be crucial for someone who might be applying for a scholarship or a job. Apart from having the complete background information of the candidate, an effective character reference letter should also shed light on the different characteristics and attributes of the candidate. For those of you not familiar with writing a character reference letter, we have come up with many tips that can help you write the perfect character reference letter for someone else.

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So, how to write a character reference letter.

Here are the nine top tips for perfecting your character reference letter writing skills.

Establish your relationship with the candidate: It is very important to inform the reader, the type of relationship you have with the candidate, so it becomes important to introduce this fact to the readers and how long you have known the candidate. This information can help the reader to establish a contextual relationship between you two. Instead of writing “I have known him for a couple of years”, you can replace it with “I have had the pleasure of working with him for two years at the State Library.”

Use proper format: Character Reference Letters often have three parts. The first part should focus on the introduction and also inform the readers of the relationship you have with the candidate. The second part contains the brief of the person’s character, and the final part will close with a favourable point for your candidate and why should he be considered for the given position. Always stick to the basics and try to keep it short.

Have a realistic and positive tone: A character reference letter should reflect upon the candidate’s abilities, goals, and accomplishments. An effective character reference letter should leave the reader with a positive impression of the candidate, so make sure you only use positive adjectives to describe the candidate. It is good to mention accomplishments like philanthropic contributions, military servitude, etc., to make the candidate look bright. But make sure not to over-praise to avoid the risk of sounding ambiguous.

Clearly state your authority: Character reference letters are often issued by ex-employers, managers, professors, or supervisors, and therefore while writing one, it is imperative you state your authority. This is important because a professor or an employer would be the best source to verify the candidate’s skills and how they handle duties.

Try to keep it simple and crisp: Make sure you use simple words which are easy to understand and keep them precise. Writing a character reference letter is not the same as writing an academic thesis.

Avoid Colloquialisms: Try to remain as official as possible. Colloquialisms can adversely reflect on your candidate.

Proofread and edit: Just like any other written piece, character reference letters also need proofreading and editing before submission. Make sure that it is free from any spelling errors and grammar mistakes. It is good to share a draft with your candidate to make sure the details are accurate.

Have an appropriate tone: It is important to write character reference letters in a formal tone. Since it will be read by an esteemed professional, make sure to address their positions accordingly. For judges and magistrates, address them as “Your Honor”. For academicians and medical professionals, they should be addressed as “Doctor”.

Serve the purpose: Character reference letters are often required for job applications, court cases, admissions, or citizenship. Make sure you are writing relevant details on the letter to serve the primary purpose of the candidate.

Sample of a character reference letter

Here is a sample character reference letter that will help you understand the basics even better.

To Whom It May Concern,

I have known Akash for more than six years. We met while working at the State Library in the maintenance department. After he joined the team, he was able to make remarkable improvements in operations to ensure smooth functioning.

Akash is among the most hardworking and dedicated people I have ever known, and I have had the immense pleasure of working alongside his team. Within the workspace, he is energetic and enthusiastic as well as compassionate who never missed an opportunity to learn something new. There are many instances that have proved Akash to be a very capable future team leader. His skills and passion have been recognised many times by the organisations and have been awarded him several times.

For the above reasons, I believe Akash would be the perfect fit for the role in your organisation and will prove to be invaluable for your business.

For further questions, feel free to reach out.

John Doe

A character reference letter is essential for many to land a quality job or scholarship or even residency in another country. Being a reference, you have the power to highlight his qualities and skills to make a positive impression on the reader.

Frequently Asked Questions

In which cases are character reference letters required?

Candidates are required to provide a character reference letter when they are applying for admission, scholarships or jobs. Character reference letters are important in court cases as well.

Who can provide a character reference letter?

Character reference letters are issued by ex-employers, lecturers, deans, principals, managers, etc. Basically, it can be provided by someone who is well-acquainted with your previous work experience and skills.

How should a character reference letter be formatted?

A character reference letter is formatted into three distinct parts and is written in a formal tone.

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