Steps to Write the Best Reference Letter
When you are asked to write a reference letter, you may feel flattered. You would definitely want to draft a personalized and well-written letter that goes in favor of the person for whom you are writing. However, writing a reference letter can be quite challenging if you are not familiar with it. In this article, you will get to know all the important aspects of writing a reference letter.
What is a reference letter?
Also called the letter of recommendation, a reference letter is a formal letter written in order to testify the character, skills, and achievements of a person. It is usually written by a person who is in a supervisory position at school or work for a job applicant or student.
Types of Reference Letters
Here is a quick look at the three types of reference letters.
An employment reference letter is the most common type of reference letter. Reference letters are submitted to the recruiters in a number of situations. First, you may have to provide three reference letters along with your job application. Secondly, when your recruiter likes your resume and is willing to learn more about you, a reference letter may be required. The employment reference letters are usually written by a person who is more experienced than you. It can be your former employers, co-workers, or supervisors.
Academic reference letters are the letters that the students need to submit during their admission process to the graduate or undergraduate schools. These letters testify to the capabilities and academic achievements of the students. Academic reference letters may also be required for fellowship programs and scholarships. The letter is written by the education professionals who are familiar with the academic background of the student.
Also called personal references, character reference letters are the letters written to describe the personality of an individual. It is required in various cases like different legal situations, child adoption process, renting a house, and more.
Steps to writing a reference letter perfectly
When writing a reference letter, it is important to remember to maintain a formal tone throughout. Whether you are writing a reference letter for a job applicant or a student, here are the steps you need to follow.
Step 1: Collect the Important Information
Even before you start writing the reference letter, the first thing to do is collect all the required information. You must gain an idea as to why you are writing the letter and for whom you are writing. Knowing whether you are writing the reference letter for a job purpose, academic reasons, or personal reference is important.
In case you are writing an employment reference letter, make sure to ask the person to provide you with the resume, description of the job role, and details of the person to whom the letter is being addressed. On the other hand, if you are writing an academic reference letter, it is essential to collect details like the academic achievements of the students. Having all this information will make it easier for you to write the letter properly without any error.
Step 2: Follow a Standard Format
As the reference letter is known to be a professional letter, make sure to follow a standard format. You can follow the general guidelines that are used in professional communication. You can write your information such as job position, company name, and address at the top left corner. Then you can open the letter with a greeting. In case you are aware of the name of the person to whom you are writing, you can use Mr. / Mrs./ Ms. However, in case you do not know the name, you can write as “To Whom It May Concern.”
Step 3: Start with Little Praise
First, introduce yourself and then go on to introduce the candidate. It is important to ensure that you sound positive and enthusiastic while introducing the candidate. Let the recruiter know that you are confident about the potential of the person. For this, you do not have to be insincere or write anything false.
All you need to do is start the reference letter with a positive note. This will help in captivating the attention of the recruiters and make them eager to know as to why you want to recommend the person. For instance, you can write something like, “I am extremely happy to recommend Daniel for the position of Executive Manager at your organization.”
Step 4: Outline the Intent of the Letter
After introducing the candidate, the first paragraph of the reference letter must explain the very purpose of the letter. Here, you also need to write about the relationship you have with the candidate. Make sure to clearly specify how long you have known the person for whom you are writing the letter.
Moreover, you can also mention your job position in brief. This section must allow the reader to gain insights into how you met the person and your basic personal qualifications. It will help the reader believe that you are qualified enough to give a genuine assessment of the person.
Step 5: Highlight the Qualifications and Achievements of the Person
Next, you will have to provide detail about why you are recommending the person for the specific position. You will have to shed light on the skills, capabilities, and academic qualifications of the individual. You can also highlight the past achievements of the candidates in the previous roles. Make sure to explain why you think that the candidate is a perfect fit for the job role.
In order to make this section more effective and appealing for the hiring managers, you can do a little research about the company. Then you can write how the personality and skills of the candidate can match the goals and culture of the organization. You can also make use of relevant examples and instances to help the reader get a better view of the capabilities of the person. Providing some examples can help in adding credibility to the reference letter. The best reference letters are the ones that showcase the potentials and skills of the candidate, along with an explanation of how they have used them in real-life situations.
Step 6: Close the Letter
Make sure to conclude the reference letter on a positive note. Summarize the facts that you have stated before and reemphasize the qualities and skills of the candidate. You need to ensure that you give a hint that the individual is a great fit for the position of the organization. Also, ensure that you are open to further queries relating to the information of the candidate. In order to allow the hiring manager to contact you, provide your contact details such as phone number and email address.
Step 7: Use a Professional Closing
Make sure to remain professional till the end. Finish the reference letter with your name as well as the title. Use the closing phrases such as “best regards,” “sincerely,” and “thank you.” In case you are submitting the reference letter physically, put your signature on the document.
Step 8: Proofread the Letter
Once you have completed writing the reference letter, it is time to proofread it. Make sure to cross-check the letter to avoid any chances of error. Check for any kind of spelling errors or grammatical errors or even formatting errors. In case you find them, make sure to correct them to retain the professionalism of the reference letter.
Sample Template of a Reference Letter
Subject: Recommendation – [Applicant name]
[Your job title]
[Your professional address]
I am extremely happy to recommend [applicant’s name] for [opportunity] in [institution or organisation]. [Details about your relationship with the candidate]. [Information relating to the qualifications, skills, and experience of the candidate].
[Endorsement of the ability of the candidate to excel in the position]. If you require more information, please feel free to contact me at [phone number and/or email address]
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