Reference Letter Template – 38+ Examples (Word | PDF)

Reference Letter Template – 38+ Examples (Word | PDF)

Many people will need a reference letter at some point in their careers and many will also be requested to prepare a reference letter on behalf of someone they know. It could be a colleague you work with, a friend who is applying for a job, or a student aiming to get accepted for a program at university.

A well-written reference letter can help someone land the perfect position, while one that is poorly written may cause them to lose the opportunity. Choosing a person to prepare and send a reference letter on your behalf is an important decision. A mentor who thinks highly of you will usually prepare a reference letter that speaks highly of your achievements and personality. While someone who does not write well or does not think well of you could harm your chances for the position you have applied for.

Do you need a professional reference, an academic reference, or a character reference? The type of reference required also will dictate who you ask and the content of the letter that is prepared. We will discuss these topics and much more in the following post.

What is a Reference Letter?

It helps to understand what a reference letter is as we dig into this topic in more detail. A reference letter is a positive statement about a person’s skills, attributes, and character. The letter is written by a person who is familiar with their accomplishments, their work, and their character. Reference letters may be written for someone applying for a new job, volunteer positions, internships, or graduate programs at colleges and university programs.

The reference letter is aimed at the person making hiring decisions or acceptance decisions. It should help them understand why the candidate would be a good fit in their organization or school program. Reference letters are either requested by the potential employer or institution or are offered by the job seeker or applicant at a college or university.

There are different types of reference letters. Professional reference letters are often prepared by former supervisors, clients, teachers or professors, and even colleagues covering achievements, qualifications, and contributions to the organization. Character reference letters typically are prepared by a family friend, a mentor, or someone who knows the person well and can attest to their personality traits. Academic reference letters are often written by teachers, advisors, or professors and focus on the candidate’s educational history and academic achievements.

What Is a Reference Letter Template?

The reference letter should be personal and positive. There are template formats that are used in a professional context vs. those that are providing a character reference. If you have not prepared a reference letter previously, using a template will assist in delivering a letter that looks professional.

In addition to the actual words you use in the reference letter, the format of the letter does make an impression on the reader. A poorly written letter with spelling, grammar, and formatting mistakes will make a negative impression even though you are saying great things about the candidate. Your credibility is on the line here. If you leave a poor impression on the reader due to errors in the letter, it will reflect negatively on the candidate.

Use a reference letter template, check your spelling and grammar and ensure that the names and addresses are accurate.

Before Writing a Reference Letter

A positive reference letter can help someone immensely, however, a negative one or one that is poorly written can do more harm to the candidate’s chances of being hired. If you have been asked to prepare a reference letter and do not know the person well or do not have positive things to say, turning down the request to prepare a letter of recommendation is better for both parties.

Declining the request may feel awkward, however, recommending someone who would be better to write the letter is a great way of dealing with providing a negative answer.

Essential Elements of a Reference Letter

The following items are considered essential elements of a reference letter. Gather all of the information you need and check off the list:

  • Contact information the letter is being sent to
  • Email accounts that the letter is being sent to
  • Your contact information
  • Candidates name
  • The job being applied for
  • Content of the letter

How to Write

You may be requested to prepare several reference letters to be sent to several different employers to support a person you are acquainted with. Each one should be customized, however much of the content can be reused for each letter. Here are a few guidelines that should help prepare these letters.

Salutation – if you know the name of the hiring manager, the letter should be addressed to them, e.g. “Dear Mr./Mrs [Name]. If you do not know the name, then the following salutations can be used:

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Admissions Committee
  • To Whom It May Concern

First Paragraph – explains how you are connected to the person you are recommending, how you know them, and for how long. It is important to discuss what makes you qualified to provide a reference for this person. This is where you establish your credibility as someone providing a reference.

For example, I have been [Name of person]’s manager at [Name of Company] for the past [X] years. I am pleased to recommend [Him or Her] for the position of [Name of Position] at [Name of company].

Following Paragraphs – you should keep the reference letter to one page in length. Explain why they are qualified and how they can contribute to the organization. Provide specific examples that support the skills this person brings to the company. Focus on skills and qualities that are important in the new job, e.g. a managerial position requires great communication, leadership, and organization.

Closing Paragraph – include your contact information, that you are available to answer questions, and provide any additional information the hiring manager may need.

Signature – include your signature and typed name. Email reference letters should include your contact information and typed name.

Formatting the Reference Letter

The format of the letter should follow these guidelines:

  • Professional business format
  • Maximum of one page in length
  • Three or four paragraphs indicates that you know the person well
  • Single spaced, with one space between paragraphs
  • One inch margins on either side
  • The text should be aligned to the left
  • Font size should be 10 or 12 points
  • Use traditional fonts e.g. Times New Roman or Arial or Calibri
  • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes

Reference Letter Example

The following is an example of a reference letter that you may want to base your reference letter on:

[Your Name]

[Your full address]

[Your email address]

[Date]

[Name of the person the letter is addressed to]

[Title]

[Full address]

Dear [Mr.] or[Mrs.] [Name]

I am very happy to recommend [Name of Person] for the position of {Name of position] at [Name of company]. As [Name of position] at [Your company] I had the pleasure of working with [Name] as their manager while [he/she] was employed at [Name of company] as [position]. I fully endorse [his/her] skills and qualifications. [He/she] was one of the best talents in our company.

I was continually impressed by the dedication and the knowledge [he/she] brought to the job and the organization. The combination of analysis skills, strong intuition, leadership, and dedication meant I could always count on [he/she] and their team to meet deadlines and the expectations of our customers. The accomplishments, [he/she] were directly accountable for include:

  • [list accomplishments]

[He/she] is also a great team player, can always be counted on, and is professional at all times. [He/she] built many positive relationships within their team and throughout the company. Optimistic, engaging, easy to communicate with while taking a leadership role are among the many skills [he/she] brings to the table.

I believe [he/she] would be a great fit for your company and make a significant contribution. For further information or questions, please feel free to contact me at [Provide email and telephone number]

Sincerely

[Your name]

[Your Title]


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      How to Submit Your Reference Letter?

      Reference letters may be submitted in several ways.

      The traditional method is to print the letter, sign it and send it in the mail, (many people refer to this approach as snail mail), however, this approach can take a week or sometimes longer for the receiver to receive the letter.

      Many people prepare their letter and then save it as a PDF, which they can attach to an email. Emails are instant and there is an electronic record of when and to whom the email was sent. Be sure to make your subject line clear to grab the attention of the person receiving the message. The content of the email should include a brief introduction along with your contact details.

      An email can also be sent without saving the reference letter as a PDF. Prepare your letter using standard word processing software and then copy/paste the contents into an email format to be sent to the hiring manager. The subject line of the email should clearly state that this is a reference letter. Check that the format of the content did not get messed up during the copy/paste step. Make corrections as needed and include your contact information

      Types of Reference Letters

      There are three main categories of reference letters and subcategories within the main categories. Companies may ask for a letter of reference for someone they are hiring, schools often request a letter of reference before admitting a student to programs, and various organizations may also request letters of reference before accepting someone in their volunteer organization. The three main categories are:

      • Professional Letters of Reference
      • Personal or Character Letters of Reference
      • Academic Letters of Reference

      Professional Letters of Reference – typically used for someone applying for a position at a company written by co-workers, supervisors, managers, and previous employers.

      Personal or Character Letters of Reference – written by a friend or someone you have known for some time, who can provide a reference to your attributes. They have usually not worked with you and cannot refer to work-related examples.

      Academic Letters of Reference – focuses on a student’s record academically, grades, attendance, participation, and examples of projects or papers they were involved with.

      Reference Letter Template

      Reference Letter Template
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      Reference Letter Template Example

      Reference Letter Template Example
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      Professional Reference Letter Template

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      Sample Reference Letter

      Sample Reference Letter
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      Adoption Reference Letter

      The adoption-reference-letter is another type of letter of reference that can be sent from the adoption place, mentioning any previous adoption where couple showed an exceeding love and care for kids. It should always be in a way that portrays or highlight the ingenuity of couples who have interest in adopting a child from a particular children’s home.

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      Reference Letter Template DOC

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      Teacher Reference Letter

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      Employment Reference Letter

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      Character Reference Letter

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      Employer Reference Letter

      The most valuable information is always from the previous employer especially if you are applying for your new job. That’s where reference letter from employer come in since it contains the information about the previous status of an employee, in particular, business or company. Hence, the manager can analyze a kind of employee will be working on his/her company.

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      Business Reference Letter

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      Printable Reference Letter

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      Character Reference Letter Template

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      Professional Personal Reference Letter

      It’s a type of personal-reference-letter in word format that uses as a note of gratefulness and gratitude from a colleague or family member. It can also be used recommend a colleague for the open job opportunity. Letter of reference has no fixed format, but it advised an importance of friend contribution that result in a contusive working environment.

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      Company Reference Letter Template

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      Basic Reference Letter

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      Reference Letter Certificate

      Reference Letter Certificate
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      Character Reference Letterhead

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      Work Reference Letter

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      Faculty Reference Letter

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      Reference Letter for College

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      Guide for Providing a Reference Letter

      Reference Letter Template Guide
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      Mistakes to Avoid in a Reference Letter

      While you have done a great job preparing your resume and have secured the all-important job interview, many employers also want references to confirm details and claims made in your resume as well as verbal statements you make during the job interview. Job seekers should be prepared to provide a list of references at the job interview or shortly after the appointment.

      Some of the common mistakes that many job seekers make when submitting references include:

      • Not providing sufficient credible and relevant references
      • Not checking your references online profile
      • Submitting references early in the process
      • Not preparing your references
      • Not providing current contact information
      • Not alerting your references
      • Overusing your references
      • Forgetting to thank your references

      Not providing sufficient credible and relevant references – you may want to emphasize specific skills in your job interview. Your references should be credible in this area and be able to speak personally to these attributes.

      Not checking your references online profile – employers will check online profiles. It is part of confirming the credibility of the reference and yourself. Do a check to ensure there are no surprises.

      Submitting references early in the process – submit too early and the hiring manager can choose who they wish to interface with, which may not be the optimum person for the job you have applied for.

      Not preparing your references – send them copies of your resume, the job description and let them know they may be contacted. You should also have some idea of what they might say about you. Again you do not want to be surprised by a less than a positive endorsement.

      Not providing current contact information – ensure that the contact information for your reference is up to date. Employers will quickly write you off if they cannot reach your reference.

      Not alerting your references – always alert your reference of potential contact, especially if time has passed. They might not be prepared or even forget that you had asked them to be a reference for you.

      Overusing your references – applying for several jobs usually means multiple contacts to your references. They are busy with their jobs and may not have the time to help you at a critical moment. Having several references and spreading the load is always a good idea.

      Forgetting to thank your references – appreciate their efforts and thank them even if you do not get the job. They did you a favor which you may return sometime in the future if roles are reversed.

      Tips for Writing the Reference Letter

      Writing a letter of recommendation for someone is a great way to show how much you appreciated working with them or having them work on a project for you. Many tips can be passed along, however, these are at the top of the list for most people.

      • Write a unique letter for each request based on a template and customize it for each application.
      • Become familiar with the person’s resume. Understand their strengths and their complete background
      • Ask the candidate for a couple of bullet points to focus on for each job that they feel will help them get the job
      • Work from a list of qualities that emphasize the candidate’s strengths
      • Introduce yourself and establish your credibility in the first paragraph
      • Use language from the job description and link the candidate’s strengths to the job description
      • Select one or two of the strongest qualities and focus on these. They should be qualities that are mentioned in the job description
      • Always quantify the candidate’s strengths e.g. improved our results by 50%
      • Mention their potential to grow and support the team or the organization
      • Don’t be dull, show enthusiastic support for the candidate
      • Don’t be passive, always use the active voice in your narrative
      • Include your contact details
      • Always check spelling and grammar
      • Use a professional format and keep the letter to one page
      • Check for submission guidelines and follow any detailed requirements

      FAQs

      There are many questions about preparing a reference letter. The following are some of the more common questions many people have.

      How do you start a recommendation letter?

      The first paragraph covers who you are, why you are writing the letter and establishes your credibility. It is important to establish your credibility upfront in the letter since this lends strength and support to what you say in later paragraphs.


      How do you close a reference letter?

      The closing includes your contact information, invites the reader to contact you if they have additional questions, and provides any additional information needed by the hiring manager.


      How do I write a letter of reference for a friend?

      Writing a reference for a friend is considered a personal reference. Emphasize their personal qualities that contribute to their positive achievements in the community, family, or volunteer positions.


      How long should a reference letter be?

      The reference letter should be no longer than one page, always follow a professional format with normal font size and structure. Three or four paragraphs are typical.


      Should a reference letter be signed?

      Always sign a reference letter unless it is being sent by email. Email reference letters should include your typed name at the end of the letter and your contact email/telephone number.


      What font should a reference letter be in?

      Times Roman and Calibri are the most commonly used fonts. Font size should be 10,11 or 12. Smaller fonts allow more information to be placed on one page.


      Does a written reference have to be handwritten?

      All reference letters should be typed, spell-checked, and grammatically correct. Use standard online spell checkers to help avoid mistakes.


      Can I write my letter of recommendation?

      Writing your letter of recommendation is not recommended. Someone checking references and calling your references can quickly detect if the person is unfamiliar with the contents of the letter. This destroys credibility and places a great deal of doubt about your strengths and qualities mentioned in the letter.


      Does a recommendation letter need an address?

      Each letter of recommendation should be customized and written for specific job applications to gain the maximum value, however, many may be addressed to the hiring manager or “To Whom It May Concern”. Always warn your contact that they might receive a call from company XYZ so they are not surprised or choose to ignore a random call.


      Can a co-worker write a letter of recommendation?

      Yes, a co-worker can write a letter of recommendation from the perspective of a co-worker or team member.


      Can a family friend write a letter of recommendation?

      Yes, a family friend can write a letter of recommendation. This is typically known as a character recommendation.


      Can an employer refuse to write a letter of recommendation?

      Yes, an employer can refuse to write a letter of recommendation. They may have a general policy of never recommending anyone due to fear of litigation. They may also refuse because they do not have positive things to say about you and would be concerned they would hurt your chances of employment.


      What if you can’t use your boss as a reference?

      Many people are applying for jobs and do not want their current employer to be aware of their job search. You may not be able to use a current boss, however, supervisors from previous jobs can be asked to provide a reference. Explain to the hiring manager when requested that you do not want to risk your current employment situation when asked for references.


      Can you still get a job with a bad reference?

      It is very difficult to get a job with bad references. Avoid asking anyone who would give you a bad reference to provide a letter of reference. There is a lot of competition for jobs and using someone who would provide a bad reference increases the odds against you significantly.


      How do you explain leaving a toxic job?

      Begin by discussing the work environment that you prefer to work in, emphasize the positive side of your work habits, your leadership qualities, and your contribution to the team. Avoid bad-mouthing your boss or co-workers or company. Discuss the positive attributes of the current job and leave out the toxic aspects. Always be honest and respectful. Avoid disrespecting anyone at your current job. Indicate that your values and the companies are not aligned. Be prepared to discuss your positive values.


      Who should you not ask for a letter of recommendation?

      Avoid asking anyone who may not be able to provide enthusiastic support with examples. Readers can pick up on these types of references quickly and will hire other equally qualified people with positive references.


      Should I send extra letters of recommendation?

      One letter of recommendation sent to a hiring manager is sufficient. Sending additional letters may confuse the manager and they may question your authenticity.


      Are reference letters confidential?

      Unfortunately, reference letters cannot be considered confidential, especially those sent by email. It is far too easy for the hiring manager to forward the letter of reference to a colleague and ask if they know the candidate and yourself. They are forwarding the letter of reference to confirm credibility, however, there is always the danger of the letter being read by people outside of the direct hiring chain.

      Key-points

      Reference letters should follow a professional format, be spell-checked, grammatically correct, and no longer than one page.

      If you cannot prepare a positive letter of reference, it is ethically better to decline the request to avoid harming the person’s chances of being hired.

      Establish your credibility in the first paragraph of the letter and demonstrate why you are the right person to discuss and recommend the person for a position in an organization.

      Always provide your up-to-date contact information and welcome additional questions or phone calls to address any issues the hiring manager may have.

      Prepare a unique reference letter for each company, matching the strengths of the candidate and the needs of the company.


      Do your homework, review the candidate’s resume, the job description, and ask the candidate for any details they feel would be helpful in their journey to be hired.

      Always address the letter to a specific person whenever possible. Alternately you may use terms such as, “To Whom it May concern”, “To the Hiring Manager”, or “To the Human Resources Manager”.

      Choosing a person to prepare and send a reference letter on your behalf is an important decision. A mentor who thinks highly of you will usually prepare a reference letter that speaks highly of your achievements and personality. While someone who does not write well or does not think well of you could harm your chances for the position you have applied for.