Character and Personal Reference Letters

Character and Personal Reference Letters

Looking for your first job or been out of the workforce for a while? Do you need a recommendation, but don't have professional references you can use? Are you concerned about the references your employer might give you? Consider using a character reference in addition to or as an alternative to employment reference letters.

A character reference (also known as a personal reference) is a letter written by someone who knows you and can speak to your character and abilities.

  • Be specific. In your letter, focus on two or three specific qualities or abilities the person has that make them a good fit for the job or school. Look at the job listing, or the school website, for a sense of the qualities the employer or school might be looking for. Provide an example of a time the person demonstrated each of these qualities.
  • Provide contact information. Provide some form of contact information so that the employer can reach you with further questions.
  • Use business letter format. If you are sending the letter by mail, use business letter format when writing your letter. Including the contact information of the employer at the top, the date, and your contact information. Conclude with a handwritten signature, and your typed signature underneath. If you are send an email reference letter, you do not have to use this format.

  • Edit, edit, edit. Be sure to thoroughly edit your letter so that it is polished and professional. Ask a friend or family member to read over the letter before you send it.

Character Reference Letter Template

Have you been asked to write a reference letter? Or do you want some samples to give to the person who is writing a reference letter for you?

A personal reference letter should provide information on who you are, your connection with the person you are recommending, why they are qualified, and the specific skills they have that you are endorsing. It should also include specific examples of times they demonstrated these skills.

Review this template for ideas and suggestions on what to write and how to provide a compelling reference.

When writing a character letter, include a salutation (Dear Dr. Jones, Dear Ms. Matthews, etc.). If you are writing a general letter, say "To Whom it May Concern" or don't include a salutation and start with the first paragraph of the letter.

Paragraph 1
The first paragraph of the character reference letter explains how you know the person you are recommending and why you are qualified to write a recommendation letter to recommend employment, college, or graduate school. With a personal letter, you are writing a recommendation letter because you know the person and their character, rather than because you have direct experience with their work or education.

Paragraph 2
The second paragraph of a reference letter contains specific information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. Use specific examples of times the employer demonstrated these skills or qualities. If necessary, use more than one paragraph to provide details.

This section of the reference letter contains a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. State that you "highly recommend" the person or you "recommend without reservation" or something similar.

The concluding paragraph of a reference letter contains an offer to provide more information. Include a phone number and/or email address within the paragraph, and include the phone number and email address in the return address section of your letter, or in your email signature.


Your Name

More Personal Reference Letter Samples

Sample Character Reference Letters
Character reference letters can be written by teachers, neighbrs, business acquaintances, clients, vendors, and other recommenders who can attest to your skills and abilities. Review a variety of sample character reference letters.

Read More: Student References | Sample Recommendation Letters | Official Transcripts 

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