Tips for Writing a Reference Letter


References are quite important when it comes to job interviews. You may have to come to a place where you have to write a letter referring someone for a job. And just like any other letter formats, reference letters also have a few rules and regulations.

Before you go ahead and write a reference letter, here are a few things you need to consider—

  1. You need to explain briefly about your relation to the applicant, how long have you known him or her and how do you know the applicant.
  2. Tell the other employer about applicant’s special qualities. Why the applicant is better than any other person that you know in the same field. List some of the best qualities, special skills and exceptional abilities of the applicant which are related to the applicant’s job search.
  3. Talk about the weaknesses when approached, but decline them in a diplomatic way. When not asked, do not talk about it at all.
  4. Tell them about your own qualification and position. That will make the reference even stronger.
  5. If it’s not necessary, then do not talk about the applicant’s race, religion, age, disability, nationality, gender or marital status. Talk about it only when it’s mandatory.
  6. Do not make the references too small or too brief. Explain things, but in a limited word count. A reference for a job should be in one page.
  7. You can also put your own contact information so that reader can follow up.
  8. The reference letter represents both you and the applicant. Therefore make a strong ending, but do not force it. Make the ending a positive one, but make sure it should not look like a biased one.
  9. Before you send the letter, do not forget to proofread.

Here are some other things you should keep in mind—

  • The appearance of your reference letter should be strong. No one likes to read a letter written with pen. The appearance matters a lot. If it’s shaggy and messy, no one will even bother to read it. Print the letter on a good quality ink-jet paper.
  • Do not ever mention any weaknesses of the candidate on your own. If asked, decline them in a diplomatic way.
  • Do not write the letter in an informal manner. Do not use any slang, informal words or any kind of jokes.
  • Do not make any kind of sloppy mistakes. No spelling error or typos are allowed.
  • Avoid any type of adjective uses or adverbs which refer to a mediocre connotation such as good, nice, reasonable, adequate, decent, fair and satisfactory.
  • List some qualities like ability to communicate, leadership, energy level, intelligence, interpersonal skills, competitiveness or ability to handle conflicts.
  • Put some of the moments where the applicant gave brilliant performances. Let the reader know about the strong aspects where the applicant can excel and perform well.

So here are a few tips on how to write a reference letter. So next time whenever you are going to refer someone, follow these simple steps. You can make someone’s career shine with a little effort of yours.

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