Reference letters for friends, often called Personal References or Personal Recommendations, are commonly used to strengthen your application. A personal recommendation, especially from a well-respected community member, can help you stay at the forefront of applicants, whether it’s for work, housing, educational advancement, or other opportunities. References are an essential part of the recruitment process because they give employers a different perspective on prospective candidates. In this article, you’ll learn all about how to create these letters and what to include. Plus, we offer a sample to help you through the process.
Asking for reference letters is not a universal practice, but it is common. Educational institutions, recruiters, condominium managers, employers, and even volunteer groups all want to know who they are considering, and reference letters offer an outside perspective. The higher your potential position or, the more elite the organization is, the more critical it is to have solid references. Much like a cover letter, some jobs, like entry-level positions, may not require reference letters, but having a couple on hand can help speed up your paperwork.
What Is a Reference Letter for a Friend?
A reference letter for a friend is a brief professional introduction for someone you trust or respect. The letter should mention the applicants’ best qualities honestly and concisely, along with some insight into their trustworthiness and general employability. If you believe they are uniquely qualified, then adding something about why that is or their special skills can help a business or organization decide whether to work with your friend.
Professional reference letters should always mention academic or work-related achievements. Likewise, personal references are meant to show the applicant’s character. Typically a reference letter for a friend is the latter, and they are looking for a character reference that shows they are dependable and capable.
Reference Letter for a Friend (Templates)
When to Write a Reference Letter for a Friend
Writing a reference letter for a friend is a big responsibility. You are putting your reputation and name on the line to vouch for this individual, so you should only accept this sort of request when you know the person in question well and can offer positive insight into their character. Wherever they apply or send this character reference, they need honest information about the applicant. Here are reasons to write a reference letter for a friend.
- You have known this person for a long time or became very close in a shorter timeframe.
- You trust or rely on this person.
- You can offer them a well-written letter that shows their best qualities
- You believe in the person asking for a reference and know they deserve recognition for their talents and skills.
- You feel good about putting your name on a legal document that swears they are a capable, reliable person.
When Not to Write a Reference Letter for a Friend
Not every person asked to write a letter of reference is the correct choice. It is okay to refuse to write a reference letter for a friend. If you are not comfortable vouching for them, you should not. Here are a few more reasons to refuse to write a letter of recommendation for a friend.
- You are not a good writer and are concerned you may not be able to provide what they need. (This can often be solved by using our free templates.)
- You feel pressured to do this, and it makes you uncomfortable
- You don’t trust or rely on the person asking for a character reference, or you otherwise don’t feel they are qualified
- You would have to make up a fake story to write the letter
- You don’t know the person very well
Essential Elements of a Reference Letter for a Friend
If you have been asked to write a reference letter for a friend or acquaintance, first consider what you know about them as a person. Are you familiar with their personality? Have you seen the applicant do things worthy of writing about? Are they reliable, intelligent, good at solving problems, or otherwise, the sort of person you are willing to swear is suitable for the position or benefit they’re applying for? Here are some key elements you should include:
- Include a sentence or two about why you are qualified. Either reference your personal relationship with the applicant or some other benefit you have to offer. Briefly and clearly explain your relationship with the candidate and how long you have known them (unless you’re a family member).
- Don’t try to describe everything you know about the candidate. Focus on two or three attributes that make them a great choice. Try to include traits the company is seeking if there was information about this in the original application form or job description.
- Give evidence for claims you make about the candidate by describing scenarios and situations in which they demonstrated vital skills or attributes.
- Although it’s not mandatory, include a phone number or email address so the recruiter can contact you for more information later.
What Not to Include in a Reference Letter for a Friend
Just as there are things you should always include, there are plenty of things to leave off this type of character reference letter. You likely do not need to have much about their work history, as a professional reference letter differs from writing for a friend. Here are a few things to leave out of your letter.
- Skip the flowery fonts and embellishments
- Don’t use colored paper or ink.
- While it is okay and even advisable to write nice things about the candidate, make sure they are believable
- Do not write to the person who asked for a reference letter. This letter is for someone else who works at an outside agency.
- You can include your opinions, but ensure you also offer evidence of your claims.
- Remember to keep it short.
How to Write a Reference Letter for a Friend
Being asked to write a personal reference letter for a friend is a privilege that should always be taken seriously. It shows that the individual trusts you with their career and/or education. Your letter could win or lose them a coveted position, so it’s a big responsibility. Below you will find tips on how to create an ideal reference letter.
Find the Value In Your Relationship
Think about your relationship with the candidate and your experiences with them. What makes it unique? What do you know or see about the individual that others may not? How have they impressed you?
Your character reference will be more convincing if you demonstrate why you have been chosen to support them. Do you spend time with them in a particular setting (church, school, volunteering, etc.)? Have you experienced something unique together? Did you support one another in a challenging situation, or have you seen them helping others when it was difficult?
Write About Their Character
A character reference is different from a professional reference. There’s no point in duplicating information a company can glean from a job reference. While there may be some crossover, try not to write too much about the candidate’s technical or employment attributes. Write about who they are. When writing a reference letter for a friend, focus on their personality. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you like about them?
- Why is your friend the right person to trust or work with?
- What type of career or field are they best suited to?
- Have they ever supported you in a significant way?
- Has your friend done something extraordinary?
Talk to the Candidate
There is no rule that says you can’t discuss a character reference with the individual it describes. If you feel it’s appropriate, talk to the person who asked you to write the reference letter. Ask them what the job recruiter is looking for so you know which aspects of their personality to focus on.
Never lie, exaggerate or include any information you’re unsure about – remember, your name will be attached to this letter. You can work on the letter together, but ultimately it is your word that the applicant is worthy.
Include Demonstrative Scenarios
Don’t just say your friend is good at something; include examples of when and how you saw them do something great. Remember, they don’t need to be professional scenarios. If they’re applying for a healthcare role, speak about times you witnessed them caring and nurturing. If they’re applying for a scholarship, describe some times when you’ve observed their passion for a particular discipline or skillset. Have they helped you achieve something? Do they volunteer? Have they set goals and fulfilled them? Be specific.
Basic Outline of a Letter of Recommendation for a Friend
A letter of recommendation for a friend isn’t complicated. You won’t need any additional information or forms. All this is meant to do is show that the person you are writing for is qualified, reliable, decent, or otherwise the right person for the job or service. Unlike most professional letters you will write, this is entirely based on your opinion and observations. Here is the basic format.
- The name and date at the top of the page are standard for any letter
- An introductory statement such as “Dear Sir,” “To Whom It May Concern,” Or “To: Recipient’s Name Here Regarding Letter of Reference for Applicant’s Name.”
- An introductory paragraph. This paragraph should include a greeting, a statement of intent, and a brief mention of how long you have known the candidate and why you are qualified to speak on their behalf. Expect to write 3 to 4 sentences.
- A supporting paragraph with 3-5 sentences that explains what you feel is their greatest strength and why.
- A second supporting paragraph shows a time when they did something extra, exceptional, or very well.
- Close with a courtesy like thank you for your time, and you can include a statement of confidence like “I know jane is the perfect person for this job.”
- Add a formal closing like “Sincerely” or “Yours Truly.”
- Include contact information if they have further questions.
Sample Recommendation Letter for a Friend
Here is an example of a personal reference letter for a friend or acquaintance that you can use as a guide for your first draft. You’ll notice that the sender introduces themselves briefly, gives a couple of good examples of why the candidate is worthy, and offers to speak more directly if needed. The letter is brief but also filled with valuable information.
Dear (Recipient’s Name),
I am writing to discuss (Friend’s Name). I have been acquainted with (Friend) for (number of years), and we have become good friends. We met at (place) when (a thing happened- such as them moving to the neighborhood). I believe (friend) is the right person for (position or other reason they need the reference).
For all the time I have known (friend), they have been (good quality here). (After this, give a two or three-sentence example of that good quality, such as, …Jane Doe has been giving and kind. In all the time I have known them, they have been a volunteer at the local charitable organization, or they tutor kids after school. Give a specific scenario where they display that quality.)
I can always rely on (friend) to (another good quality like listening or being on time). (Now explain in a couple of sentences a time when they went out of their way to be reliable in some way. You can also use this paragraph to explain why they have overcome challenges to reach their goals.)
(Optional) You can add a statement about your confidence in your friend. Examples of this include, ‘(Friend) is the best candidate for this position because (reason),’ or ‘(Friend) deserves this opportunity because (reason),’ and similar sentiments. Keep it brief at no more than two sentences.
(Your full name here)
(Signature line) ___________
If you have questions or want to talk with me directly, please call (555) 555-5555 or email me at [email protected] I’d be happy to chat further about (friend).
Reference Letter for Friend (Examples)
Tips for Writing an Effective Reference Letter for a Friend
A reference letter won’t impress anyone if it is misspelled and generic. It’s vital to write sincerely and honestly about the person for whom you are providing a reference. Here are some more tips and tricks you can use to write a high-quality reference letter for a friend:
- Be polite and concise. Employers, recruiters, and others who process applications see hundreds or thousands of these forms a year. A three-page personal reference letter will probably never even be read. Keep your points brief and poignant. Reference letters should never be longer than a page.
- Use plain, unlined white paper. Make sure it is only folded if you place it within an envelope. You can use letterhead from your business if you have it.
- Whenever possible, use a preformatted reference letter template. These simple forms serve as a guide to the required structure, layout, length, and content. Templates like our professional forms come premade and ready for you to fill in with the correct information. When you have a premade form, you won’t have to worry about missing something important.
- Type and print your letter rather than writing by hand.
- Keep the original job advertisement. Doing this will tell you precisely what the recruiter/employer is looking for. Once you know what attributes to focus on in your letter, finding ways to include relevant data is easier.
- Always sign the letter in black or blue ink.
- Discuss the letter with your friend. While you shouldn’t lie for them, working on a personal reference letter together is acceptable. They can advise you on what to focus on but ensure the letter is in your words. You may be contacted for further information and must know what you wrote and why.
Who Can Write a Reference Letter for a Friend
Although writing letters for friends is vital and helpful, not everyone can or should write references. For example, if you shouldn’t write a reference letter for someone you don’t know and trust. Here are a few tips about who you should or shouldn’t write for.
- The reference provider should NOT be a current employer. A former employer may be acceptable, provided the candidate and referee have a non-professional friendship or personal connection.
- Suitable referees for personal reference include extended family members, close friends, teachers, community leaders, neighbors, coaches, mentors, former classmates, group or club leaders, etc.
- Family members can write personal reference letters but shouldn’t be too close to the candidate. For instance, an uncle or a grown-up cousin is okay, but a candidate who uses their mother or brother may be frowned upon.
Who Should Write a Reference Letter for a Friend
The best person to write a reference letter for you is someone who has known you for a long time or has unique insight. If the referees have status in the community, like business owners, law enforcement officers, and others in trusted positions, it’s even better. Here are a few examples of who should write a reference letter for you.
- Co-volunteer or coworker
- Business contacts who you have worked with for a long time
- A current or former classmate
- Long-time family friend or neighbor
- Coach, mentor, or mentee
- Fellow member of any organization or club with good social standing
When Will I Need a Reference Letter from a Friend
There are many times you may need a reference letter from a friend. You may need a reference letter if you plan to apply at any club or association or want to hold any official position. Students applying to higher learning facilities may need personal references. Likewise, people looking for employment where extensive training or education is a prerequisite may find that employers want letters of recommendation for both personal and professional associates.
You may also need references for legal reasons. Court or immigration documents may require or offer you the opportunity to provide character reference letters. Whether it’s mandatory or not, always include one or two-character reference letters if asked. Doing this helps the people processing the paperwork to make determinations that can help speed up the process and turn it in your favor.
Whether you’re writing your first personal reference letter or simply seeking a few tips to create a better reference, you probably still have questions. Below are the top four most frequently asked questions by people who want to understand how to write personal reference letters.
You ask for a reference letter like you would for any favor. Be polite, acknowledge that you’re asking for something important, and provide clear instructions. Ask as early as possible in the application process because the more time you can give your referee, the more likely they will accept the task. Explain why you think your relationship is an asset that could help you to secure the job or role you desire.
If you are asked to write a reference for a friend, consider whether you know them well enough first. Do you know what type of person they are? Have you seen them behave in ways that impressed you, specifically? Are you close enough to them to comment on their suitability for a particular position? If you believe you are, you are a good referee. Don’t write letters of recommendation for people you don’t know well unless you have shared experiences relevant to their prospective role.
Please focus on the positive aspects of their personality. You can include references to failures or past difficulties, but only if you can demonstrate how they progressed beyond these obstacles. Try not to write too much about their technical qualifications if you are writing a personal or character reference (rather than a professional reference). There will be some crossover, mainly if the reference is for an employment position, but avoid covering the same things as a CV or professional recommendation.
Yes, family and friends are acceptable referees for a personal letter. It would be best if you didn’t use family members for professional references, but character references are admissible. Your referee should try to explain why they are a good judge of your personal attributes. Perhaps they’ve seen you progress and improve in particular ways. Or maybe they’ve always believed you’d excel in a specific field. What real-world examples of your skills can they provide?
Relevant and honest information is the most important part of any personal reference letter you write for a friend. Companies and businesses want to hear about their candidates from someone who knows the applicant well, but they won’t read ten pages. Keep your personal reference letters short, sweet, and to the point. While you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if you write a reference and the candidate isn’t successful, it’s essential to approach the document as if you have no doubts they’ll get the role.