Writing A Reference Letter
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Writing A Reference Letter

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Writing A Reference Letter Writing A Reference Letter Presentation Transcript

  • Writing a reference letter
    • Effective reference letter could mean the difference between a candidate's acceptance or rejection. You may be a person requesting a reference letter, or you may be a person writing a reference letter. In either case, the information in this article can make both requesting or writing the letter easier. A reference letter is essentially the same as a recommendation letter but the reference letter is sent to an unknown employer, whereas a recommendation letter is sent to a known employer. Primarily, a reference letter is used to introduce a person and vouch for his integrity, character, and abilities.
  • Requesting a Reference Letter/Letter of Reference
    • Before you request a reference letter, here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Ask for a reference letter from people who know you and your capabilities, such as former employers, teachers, coaches, community or corporate leaders, influential friends who have known you a long time, etc. Relatives are not a good choice. Three letters are usually enough.
    • Be sure to give the people you ask enough time to write the reference letter--a week to 10 days should be sufficient.
    • Tell the people who agree to write letters for you about your goals and what they could write that would help you to achieve those goals. Don't be shy. A reference letter is a sales letter that is intended to sell you. Now is the time to point out your accomplishments!
    • Follow up your request with a review of your conversation in writing. In your letter it may be helpful to suggest specific phrases or sentences that the writer could put in your letter. When you send your follow-up letter, be sure to also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If you don't receive your reference letters within 10 days of your conversations with the prospective writers, you may need to contact them to confirm that each is aware of your deadlines.
    • Once you receive your reference letters, send the writers thank-you notes. You should also let each writer know about your subsequent success and how much their letters helped you to attain your goal.
  • How to write a Reference Letter
    • Here are some easy guidelines (in no specific order):
    • Explain how you know the applicant and how long you have known him/her.
    • In what respect is this person exceptional to others you have known with a similar background? List the applicant's exceptional qualities and skills, especially those that are related to the applicant's field of interest or job search. Give specific examples to back up what you have written.
    • Refer to the requester's competency in a specific field and/or prior experience, organizational and communication skills, academic or other achievements, interaction with others, sound judgment, reliability, analytical ability, etc.
    • Omit weaknesses. If you can't write a positive letter of reference, you should diplomatically decline when you are first approached.
    • State your own qualifications. Why should the reader be impressed with your reference letter?
    • Emphasize key points that you want the reader to take note of on the resume or application. Be sure to elaborate meaningfully; don't simply restate what he/she has already written.
    • Unless it is absolutely relevant, do not refer (either in a direct or implied reference) to the applicant's race, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, or marital status.
    • Don't be too brief, but be succinct and make every word count. Generally speaking, a letter of reference for employment should be one page; a letter of reference for school admission should be one to two pages.
    • List your own contact information if you are willing to receive follow-up correspondence or answer questions.
    • Make the ending strong without overdoing it. Undo praise can be viewed as biased or insincere.
  • Write a recommendation or a reference about someone
    • 1. Write only complimentary comments . Write factual, observations and avoid unflattering or derogatory remarks. If you cannot do this, then do not write the letter.
    • 2. Avoid any negative implications . Potential employers are adept at "reading between the lines." Do not destroy the former employee's chance at getting the new job.
    • 3. Do not include bigotry comments about race, color, religion, handicap, sex, national origin, marital or parental status. In other words, do not include comments that could be interpreted as biased or that could provoke bias in any way.
    • 4. Remember, an effective letter of recommendation :
    • verifies experience
    • confirms competence
    • builds credibility
    • bolsters confidence
    • 5. Check your company's policies regarding letters of recommendation. Many policies have been established as protection against potential lawsuits.
  • Reference Letter Template
    • Salutation If you are writing a personal letter of reference, include a salutation (Dear Dr. Smith, Dear Mr. Jones, etc.). If you are writing a general letter, say "To Whom it May Concern" or simply don't include a salutation.
    • Paragraph 1 The first paragraph of the reference letter template explains your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and why you are qualified to write a reference letter to recommend employment or graduate school.
    • Paragraph 2 The second paragraph of the reference letter template 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. If necessary, use more than one paragraph to provide details.
    • Paragraph 3 When writing a specific letter referring a candidate for a particular job opening, the reference letter template will include information on how the person's skills match the position they are applying for. Ask for a copy of the job posting and a copy of the person's resume so you can target your reference letter accordingly.
    • Summary This section of the reference letter template contains a brief summary of why are you are recommending the person. State that you "highly recommend" the person or you "recommend without reservation" or something similar.
    • Conclusion The concluding paragraph of the reference letter template contains an offer to provide more information. Include a phone number within the paragraph,include the phone number and email address in the return address section of your letter, or in your signature.
    • Sincerely,
    • Writer Name Title
  • Sample Faculty Reference Letter
    • Dear [ Name of Employer ]:
    • This reference letter is provided at the written request of [ name of student ], who has asked me to serve as a reference on [ his/her ] behalf. It is my understanding that [ name of student ] is being considered by your organization for the position of [ job title ]. Please be advised that the information contained in this letter is confidential and should be treated as such. The information should not be disclosed to [ name of student, if student has waived access ] or anyone in your organization who would not be involved in the hiring decision regarding this individual. Additionally, the information should not be disclosed to anyone outside of your organization without the consent of the student.
    • I have known [ name of student ] for the past [ number of months, semesters, years ] as [ he/she ] has taken the following courses which I teach: [ list courses, give brief description of content of course ]. As [ his/her ] professor, I have had an opportunity to observe the student’s participation and interaction in class and to evaluate the student’s knowledge of the subject matter. I would rate the student’s overall performance in these subjects as average. This is evidenced by [ his/her ] grades—[ state the grades ].
    • [ One or two specific examples of the student’s performance may be appropriate. ] As part of [ his/her ] grade in [ name of course ], the student was required to prepare a paper. The paper was designed to measure the student’s ability to research, to analyze the results of the, research, and to write. [ Discuss how the paper submitted by the student indicated to you the student’s skills in these areas. ] Based upon this, I rate the student’s skills as competent but not excellent.
    • The one area in which the student performed above average was in [ specify skill area, e.g., oral communications ]. [ Give specific example to support this. ]
    • I believe the student would perform competently with your organization and has potential if challenged.
    • If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.
    • Sincerely,
    •  
    • [ Signature ]
    • [ Typed Name ] [ Title ]
  • Sample Employer Reference Letter
    • Dear [ Name of Employer ]:
    • This reference letter is provided at the request of (or with the written authorization of) [ name of former employee ]. It is my understanding that [ name of employee ] has applied for the position of [ job title ] with your organization. The information contained in this letter is confidential and should be treated as such. It should not be disclosed to anyone within your organization who would not be involved in the hiring decision regarding this individual. Moreover, it should not be disclosed to anyone outside of your organization without the written consent of [ name of employee ].
    • [ Name of employee ] has been employed (or has participated in an internship, cooperative education, or work-study program) by our company since [ date ] and has held the following position(s): [ list positions and salary in each position ]. In [ his/her ] most recent position, [ he/she ] had responsibility for [ explain the person’s main responsibilities in this position ]. [ State your estimation of his/her performance, based upon performance appraisals or other work records that would support your evaluation. ] [ Name of employee ] interacted well with co-employees, was reliable, and showed good judgment. [ Give examples. ]
    • If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.
    • Sincerely,
    •  
    • [ Signature ]
    • [ Typed Name ] [ Title ]
  • Letter Sample for Employment Reference Sample reference letter written by an employer .
    • To whom it may concern:
    • I would like to recommend Sharon Doe as a candidate for a position with your organization. In her position as Staff Assistant, Sharon was employed in our office from 2002 - 2006. Sharon did an excellent job in this position and was an asset to our organization during her tenure with the office. She has excellent written and verbal communication skills, is extremely organized, can work independently and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done.
    • During her tenure with XXXX, Sharon was responsible for supervising the department office assistants. These assistants, under Sharon's management, were responsible for many of the office's basic administrative and clerical functions.
    • Sharon effectively scheduled and managed several assistants to maintain efficient office operations.
    • Sharon was always willing to offer her assistance and had an excellent rapport with the many constituents served by our office including clients, employers, and other professional organizations. She would be an asset to any employer and I recommend her for any endeavor she chooses to pursue.
    • Yours truly,
    • Jane Smith
  • Sample Academic Reference for a Student
    • Dear Ms. Jones:
    • I am writing this reference at the request of Katie Kingston who is applying for the Summer Communications Program at XYZ University.
    • I have known Katie for two years in my capacity as a teacher at Smithtown Middle School School. Katie took English and Spanish from me and earned superior grades in those classes. Based on Katie's grades, attendance and class participation, I'd rate Katie's academic performance in my class as superior.
    • In conclusion, I would highly recommend Katie Kingston for this academic program. If her performance in my class is any indication of how she will succeed, Katie will be a positive addition to the program.
    • If you should need any additional information you can feel free to contact me at 555-5555 or by email at email@email.com anytime.
    • Sincerely,
    • Susan Samuels Teacher, Smithtown Middle School
  • Sample character reference letter written by an acquaintance, rather than an employer:
    • I have known Jane Doe in a variety of capacities for many years. She
    • has been my daughter's riding instructor for the past several years. In
    • addition, she is my partner in a small business where she is responsible
    • for writing and editing articles and website content.
    • Jane is organized, efficient, extremely competent, and has an excellent
    • rapport with people of all ages. Her communication skills, both written
    • and verbal, are excellent.
    • In summary, I highly recommend Jane for any position or endeavor that
    • she may seek to pursue.
    • She will be a valuable asset for any organization.
    • If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
    • Sincerely,
    • John Smith
  • Sample Character Reference Letter
    • To Whom it May Concern:
    • I have had the pleasure of knowing Katherine Kingston for eight years. During the years of our acquaintance, I have known Katherine in many capacities. She has been my Mother's Helper since the birth of my first child five years ago. Her responsibilities in that capacity have grown with the activity level of a now pre-schooler, and the addition of another child, now a toddler.
    • Katherine has also been involved with a variety of tasks at my retail business, a specialty shop fitting women for mastectomy, compression, maternity, and nursing products.
    • Her experiences have included working on inventories, our newsletter, mailing list, and web design, as well as customer interface.
    • Katherine is an intelligent, capable, and personable young woman. She is always quick on her feet, with sensible reactions in all the circumstances I've seen her in. I feel confident in saying that she is capable of handling any situation with thoughtfulness and maturity.
    • Jill Johnson
  • Sample Reference Letter from a Teacher
    • Attn: Julia M. Jones Re: Katie Kingston
    • Dear Ms. Jones:
    • I am writing this reference at the request of Katie Kingston who is applying for Student Volunteer Program at St. Francis Hospital this summer.
    • I have known Katie for two years in my capacity as a teacher at Smithtown Middle School School. Katie took English and Spanish from me and earned superior grades in those classes. Based on Katie's grades, attendance and class participation, I'd rate Katie's academic performance in my class as superior.
    • Katie has a number of strengths to offer an employer. Katie is always interested in supporting others.
    • For example, this year when we worked on our class community service project, Katie was helpful to me in collecting and organizing the food for the food pantry here in Smithtown.
    • In conclusion, I would highly recommend Katie Kingston. If her performance in my class is any indication of how she'd perform in your position, Katie will be a positive addition to your organization. If you should ever need any additional information you can feel free to contact me at 555-5555 or by email at [email_address] anytime.
    • Sincerely,
    • Susan Samuels Teacher, Smithtown Middle School
  • Reference Letter Sample for Graduate School from a Manager
    • To Whom it May Concern:
    • It is my honor to recommend John Doe for matriculation into the Graduate program at Rochester Institute. I have had the pleasure to know and work with John for the last six years. He he first worked with me as an intern in the software development organization at XYZ in Syracuse, NY. Following his graduation from Rochester Institute, I was fortunate enough to keep track of his career so that when the opportunity arose, I was able to recruit him to his current position at ABCD. The characteristics of John that attracted my attention then, and led me to hire him out of Company B last year, make it easy for me to give him an unqualified endorsement for graduate study.
    • John brings to all of his activities energy, enthusiasm, and commitment.
    • This is to be expected in any successful member of an entrepreneurial organization, and in this regard John fits in well. Be it in the parsing of intricate algorithms in a billing system, the crafting of an object hierarchy, or the establishment of best practices with an emerging technology, John consistently delivers high-quality software for our organization. This speaks to his overall intellect and ability to learn, attributes that will serve him well in graduate study.
    • While John is a relatively junior member of our organization as measured by tenure, he quickly established himself as a go-to person in the product domains in which he has worked. He has been ever-willing to work with members of our organization to share his knowledge and expertise, most notably as a presenter for presentations on product functions. He has a deep-rooted spirit of helpfulness that coupled with his quick grasp of subject matter speaks well to his potential as a teaching assistant or instructor.
    • What I find most engaging in John's character are his wide-ranging interests outside of software. Two of his abiding interests are game theory and economics. He can be quickly engaged in an in depth discussion, for instance, of the rationale behind EZ-Pass, the lack-of rationality of the financial markets, or the optimal approach for making a few quid on the super-bowl. John's broad range of interests speaks well to his potential as researcher, both in bringing a wide range of theory to the research at hand, as well as carrying forward new hypotheses of interest to researchers.
    • John Doe is a valued member of our organization whom we have learned we can rely on, regardless of the difficulty of the task to hand or the novelty of the challenge. His combination of intelligence, commitment, perseverance, creativity, and compassionate character will certainly make him a valuable member of any academic program. I encourage you to look favorably upon his application.
    • Sincerely,
    • George Smith Title Company Address Phone Email