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12 Feb 2024 Lauren Wache

How To Write A Character Reference Letter For Someone

Have you been asked to write a character reference letter for someone you know who is currently seeking employment?

If you have, then you may be wondering exactly what goes into such a letter and what importance it plays in the job candidate's interview process.

Well, that’s exactly what we will cover in this article! Read this piece from top to bottom or simply jump to the specific section you’re interested in:

What Is A Character Reference Letter?

A character reference letter is a document that is written by someone who knows the job candidate well and can attest to their character. This type of letter is usually written by a friend, family member, or someone close to the job candidate.

The character reference letter is important because it gives the employer an idea of what kind of person the job candidate is, outside of their professional qualifications.

An employer may request a character reference letter to get a better sense of who the job candidate is as a person. This type of letter can be very helpful in the decision-making process, as it can provide insight into the job candidate's character that may not be apparent from their resume or professional qualifications alone.

How To Write A Character Reference Letter

So, you’ve been assigned the very important task of writing a reference letter. Where to start?

For starters, you should:

#1 Add our contact information

Right below the date, add your full name, the company you work for, your e-mail, and your phone number. Once you’ve done that, then you will have to…

#2 Properly address the letter

To begin, avoid using the traditional “To whom it may concern”. That’s way too impersonal! Instead, ask the candidate the name of the person who will be receiving the letter.

If they don’t have a name, then assign the letter to the team at the company the candidate is applying for, for example: “To the Marketing Team at BlueVista”, or “To the Software Engineering team at Techpulse”.

#3 Introduce yourself and explain your relationship with the candidate

Explain where you know the candidate from and for how long you’ve known them.

For example:

My name is Roseanna Vang, and I am the Marketing Director at BitCode. I had the pleasure of working with Eleanor Thomas throughout my time as a Senior Marketing Manager at Nexlab in 2019. Eleanor was the Head of Marketing and my direct supervisor at the time.

Be thorough about the context in which you’ve known the candidate. For instance, in the example above, we learn that:

  • Roseanna was under Eleanor’s supervision and is now the Marketing Director, meaning Eleanor’s mentorship might have helped her grow and progress;
  • Eleanor has maintained a good relationship with her subordinates, given one of them would be open enough to write them a reference letter.

Let’s take another example from someone who hasn’t worked with the candidate:

My name is Jean Mcleod and I am a Senior Software Engineer at Ecotech. Angelo Bradshaw and I studied together at UCLA from 2010 to 2014 while undertaking a Computer Science degree. During that time, we have worked closely together on multiple class projects and extra-curricular activities.

Here’s what we learned from the example above:

  • Jean probably considers Angelo a reliable person, as they have worked together on multiple class projects;
  • Angelo is driven to learn new things, given his interest in joining extra-curricular activities.

See? Details matter!

Once you’ve given the context, then you will:

#4 Bring in all the good stuff

Bring in all the positive things you have to say for this candidate. If you can, try bringing in measurable results, too!

Let’s pick where we left off on the examples we used above.

Example 1:

I have witnessed first-hand Eleanor’s commitment and dedication to building brand awareness at Nexlab. During the time we have worked together, Eleanor was in charge of leading a creative team of 12 professionals responsible for crafting engaging and strategic marketing campaigns.

For the second half of 2019, Eleanor spearheaded the campaign launch of a new foundation designed to perfectly blend with all skin colors. The marketing team developed a user-generated content strategy for TikTok and Instagram, leveraging customers' different skin tones to showcase the product’s efficiency. Over 20K leads entered our waiting list to purchase the product first-hand, and nearly 10% converted within the first week of the product launch!

Elanor’s leadership and organization skills were essential to sustain a deliverable timeframe for the campaign launch. She held regular 1:1s with everyone on the team to keep track of the campaign status and designed a project management board so everyone would be on the same page.

Notice how, in this case, the reader is presented with a challenge Eleanor had to face. Then, they learned about the steps she took and the measurable outcomes. Finally, they learn about what skills were essential for Eleanor’s success in facing this challenge.

Now, let’s see how this framework could be applied to our second example:

Example 2:

During our final year capstone project, Angelo and I faced a significant challenge in developing a scalable web application for a nonprofit organization. The application struggled with load management during peak times, causing frequent downtimes and hindering the nonprofit's mission. Angelo stepped forward to lead the resolution of these performance issues, recognizing the need for a more robust solution to support the organization's goals effectively.

Angelo proposed and led the transition to a microservices architecture, a strategy aimed at enhancing the application's scalability and performance. By breaking down the monolithic system into smaller, independently scalable services, he meticulously orchestrated the redesign over two months. This period involved intensive coding sessions, careful deployment of new services, and rigorous testing to ensure the application's stability and efficiency, demonstrating Angelo's commitment to finding a sustainable solution.

The transformation Angelo spearheaded not only salvaged our capstone project but also significantly benefited the nonprofit organization, tripling the application's user capacity and slashing load times by 70%. This overhaul led to increased user engagement and allowed the nonprofit to expand its services. Angelo's leadership, technical acumen, and problem-solving skills were pivotal in achieving these results, illustrating his ability to deliver under pressure and contribute meaningfully to complex projects.

Again, the reader is presented with a challenge, a step-by-step guide to the resolution of the challenge, and a measurable result!

#5 Craft a statement of recommendation

Reinforce the candidate’s value and how they can make a great addition to the team.

Here’s what the closing statement could look like for each of the examples above:

Example 1:

I am convinced that Eleanor’s creative and strategic thinking, combined with her knack for leadership, will serve as a valuable asset to your team.

Example 2:

I am confident that Angelo's proficiency in software engineering, combined with his exceptional problem-solving abilities, makes him an invaluable asset to any team. His commitment to excellence and his ability to lead through challenges are qualities that I have admired and learned from throughout our time at UCLA.

#6 Close with your contact information

Finally, put yourself at the reader’s disposal to provide any further information on the candidate! Here’s how:

Example 1:

Should you wish to discuss or gain any further insights into Eleanor’s time at Nexlab, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at 555-555-555 or [email protected].

Example 2:

If you need any further details about Angelo’s achievements and abilities, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 555-555-555 or [email protected].

The Anatomy Of A Character Reference Letter

Now, let’s recap and break that down into an illustration!

The Anatomy Of A Character Reference Letter

What To Include In The Character Reference Letter

When writing a character reference letter, focus on the positive qualities of the person you are writing about. Try to provide specific examples of times when you have seen these positive qualities in action.

Also, keep the letter concise and to the point. The character reference letter is not the place to go into detail about the person's entire life story.

Here are some things you may want to include in a reference letter:

  • How long you have known the person
  • In what capacity you have known them
  • What positive qualities you have observed in them
  • Specific examples of times when you have seen these qualities in action
  • Why do you believe they would be a good fit for the job they are applying for
  • Your contact information in case the employer has any further questions

Pro Tip: If you have been asked to write a character reference letter, it is a good idea to ask the person you are writing it for if there is anything specific they would like you to include. This will help ensure that your letter hits all the key points that the employer is looking for.

When Should A Character Reference Letter Be Submitted?

The completed letter should be submitted along with the job candidate's other application materials. Usually, the letter will be sent directly to the employer by the person who is writing it.

If you have been asked to write a character reference letter but are not sure how to go about it, the following examples will help you get started.

5+ Examples Of A Character Reference Letter

Below are five examples of outlines you can use for inspiration. Remember to add your contact information in the header of the letter so that the employer can easily get in touch with you if they have any further questions.

Character Reference Example #1:

February 12th, 2024

Nicholas Shaw

Edutech | [email protected]| 555-555-555

Dear Will Holt,

I am writing to strongly endorse Hirra Shah for the Financial Analyst position she is keenly pursuing. Over the past 5 years, my association with Hirra, both professionally and personally, has allowed me to witness her unwavering dedication, integrity, and astute analytical skills.

In her role as a Financial Analyst with Edutech, Hirra has consistently exhibited a commendable work ethic, complemented by her keen attention to financial intricacies. She played a pivotal role in identifying and rectifying cost inefficiencies, resulting in an annual savings of 15% for our department. Furthermore, her in-depth analysis and forecasting techniques led to a 20% increase in ROI for our key investment projects in the past year.

Beyond her technical prowess, what distinguishes Hirra is her genuine commitment to team collaboration and her ability to explain complex financial concepts in a comprehensible manner. This blend of analytical acumen and interpersonal skills makes her a standout financial professional.

I am genuinely confident that Hirra Shah will be a significant asset to your team, driving both efficiency and innovation.

Should you wish to further discuss or gain insights into Hirra's competencies and achievements, please do not hesitate to contact me at 555-555-5555 or [email protected]

Warm regards,

Nicholas Shaw

Character Reference Example #2:

February 12th, 2024

Gloria Wilson

DataSphere | [email protected] | 555-555-555

Dear Cecilia Luna,

I am writing to strongly recommend Keisha Jones for the Human Resources position she is pursuing. I have had the privilege of working alongside Keisha for the past 5 years. Throughout this period, Keisha has consistently embodied the principles of professionalism, empathy, and dedication.

In her previous HR role, Keisha was instrumental in revamping our recruitment process, resulting in a 40% decrease in time-to-hire and a 20% increase in new hire retention during her first year. Her meticulous attention to detail combined with a deep understanding of organizational dynamics ensures that every team member feels acknowledged and empowered.

Keisha's true strength lies in her ability to mediate and manage interpersonal relationships within the workplace. With a knack for problem-solving, she reduced internal conflicts by 60% through the initiation of team-building activities and open dialogue sessions. Her genuine compassion, paired with her sharp insight into strategic planning, makes her a valuable asset in any HR setting.

I wholeheartedly believe that Keisha Jones would be an outstanding addition to your HR team, bringing with her the expertise and soft skills essential for the role. If you need further details or wish to discuss Keisha's achievements and abilities, please don't hesitate to contact me at 555-555-5555 or [email protected].

Warm regards,

Gloria Wilson

Character Reference Example #3:

February 12th, 2024

Marnie Reid

AI Optima |[email protected]| 555-555-555

Dear Rafael Hall,

I am writing to endorse Mark Thompson for the Account Manager position at CloudFrontier. Over the past 5 years, I have worked closely with Mark in both professional and personal environments, and I have been consistently impressed with his proficiency, dedication, and aptitude in managing accounts.

Mark possesses a rare blend of technical skills, interpersonal skills, and client-centric dedication. In his role as an Account Manager with our company, he has seamlessly balanced client needs with organizational goals, consistently exceeding both client and company expectations. His proactive approach led to a 30% increase in client retention and a 25% growth in upsell opportunities during his time at AI Optima.

Furthermore, Mark's natural ability to establish trust and build lasting relationships positions him as a standout in the realm of account management. He possesses the intrinsic ability to understand client needs, foresee challenges, and proactively offer solutions, ensuring the client's trust is never compromised.

I am confident that Mark Thompson will be an invaluable asset to your team and bring tangible results in the Account Manager role. If you wish to discuss further or require additional insights into Mark's competencies, please do not hesitate to connect with me at 555-555-5555 or [email protected].

Warm regards,

Marnie Reid

Character Reference Example #4:

February 12th, 2024

Simon Kelley

Lumiar Elementary School | [email protected] | 555-555-555

Dear Minna Rigs,

I am writing to recommend Tessa Stafford for the teaching position she is pursuing at Bright Education. Having known Tessa for the past 5 years, I've observed her in various capacities, both in professional educational settings and outside of them. Tessa consistently radiates attributes of patience, innovation, and an unwavering passion for education.

In her teaching role at our school, Tessa not only showcased an excellent command over her subject matter but also demonstrated an innate ability to understand and cater to the unique needs of each student. Under her guidance, her class witnessed a remarkable 25% improvement in standardized test scores, and she successfully bridged learning gaps for underperforming students, leading to an 80% pass rate improvement for that specific group within a year.

What truly distinguishes Tessa is her holistic approach to teaching. Beyond just academics, she instills in her students critical life values, resilience, and curiosity. Her innovative teaching methods, combined with her genuine care for students' well-being, position her as an educator par excellence. I am confident that with Tessa Stafford joining your team, your institution will not only achieve academic excellence but also nurture well-rounded individuals.

For further discussion or additional information regarding Tessa's abilities and achievements, please do not hesitate to contact me at 555-555-5555 or [email protected].

Warm regards,

Simon Kelley

Character Reference Example #5: 

February 12th, 2024

Jenna Dunn

Salute Medical Care | [email protected] | 555-555-555

Dear Owen Kelin,

I am writing to recommend Leroy Lucero for the nursing position he is seeking at MedClin. Over the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of working alongside Leroy and observing his dedication, compassion, and outstanding clinical abilities.

In his nursing role at our facility, Leroy has consistently demonstrated exemplary patient care, often going above and beyond his duties. His diligence and thorough approach have directly contributed to a 20% reduction in patient recovery times within his care ward. Furthermore, under his leadership, patient satisfaction scores in his department increased by 15%, showcasing his commitment to ensuring patients feel cared for and heard.

Beyond his technical proficiency, what truly distinguishes Leroy is his deep empathy and ability to connect with patients of all backgrounds. He has this innate talent of blending analytical thinking with a heartfelt commitment to his patients' well-being. Such qualities not only make him an exceptional nurse but also an essential team member in any medical setting. I am confident that with Leroy Lucero as part of your team, your facility will witness enhanced patient care and a strengthened nursing department.

For additional insights or to discuss Leroy's achievements and skills further, please don't hesitate to contact me at 555-555-5555 or [email protected].

Warm regards,

Jenna Dunn

Notice how all of these examples share a few common traits.

First, they speak to the person's abilities as a professional, using measurable outcomes when possible. This allows the hiring manager to see the specific value they bring to the table as an employee.

Second, they speak to the person's character and values. This allows the hiring team to gauge the cultural fit for this person so they can feel confident they'd not only blend in but actively add to the company's culture.

Third, they use specific examples to define each. They don't just say something like, “Leroy offers exemplary patient care.” They go beyond that to provide examples of how that exemplary care translates in the workplace (“His diligence and thorough approach have directly contributed to a 20% reduction in patient recovery times within his care ward.”).

Pro Tip: Want to level up your character letters without spending a bunch of extra time? Leverage AI! Tools like Hubspot's Paragraph Writer help remove the burden of starting with a blank page. Use them to take care of 80% of the baseline content so you can bring 100% of your energy to personalize your reference letter and add your magic touch!

Final Thoughts On Reference Letters

A character reference letter can significantly increase a job candidate's chances of getting hired. By taking the time to write a thoughtful and well-written letter, you can help your friend or colleague get the job they're applying for.

Keep the following tips in mind when writing a character reference letter:

  • Be sure to include how long you have known the person
  • Mention what capacity you have known them in
  • Include an example of their positive character traits
  • Explain why you believe they would be a good fit for the job (include measurable metrics and outcomes if you can!)
  • Provide your contact information in case the employer has any questions
  • Submit the letter along with the job candidate's other application materials

When in doubt, the letter you write should be positive and always truthful. With these tips in mind, you'll be on your way to writing a great character reference letter in no time!

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