What is a Character Reference?
A character reference letter is a document that provides information about the reliability of a particular individual, from the perspective of someone who knows the subject personally. Employers and lenders often request character reference letters as part of the formal application procedure.
Character reference letters are vital for many non-employment related pursuits as well. These may include scholarships, awards, child custody, adoption and parole hearing etc.
Important Points to keep in Mind While Writing Letters of Character Reference for Friends
When you are asked by a friend or a neighbor to write a character reference, be sure that you really like the person and don’t have to lie to prove his/her integrity. In other words, if you really have to make things up to get your friend the desired job or loan, simply excuse yourself from the responsibility.
The character references that are impactful are always genuine and heartfelt so it’s better to write in your own words and with sincerity. Here is a simple format for the character reference letter:
Opening Paragraph of a Character Reference
- State the date, name and full address of the receiver.
- Address the receiver with his name so it has a personal touch.
- If it is to be sent to more than one person you can use To Whom It May Concern as salutation.
- Mention how you know the person e.g. a brief description of how you met and for how long have you known your friend.
- The body of the letter may have a few paragraphs. This is where you have to convince the employer (or lender) as in why you are recommending your friend for the position, award etc he/she is applying for.
- Mention all the good qualities that are relevant. Use strong adjectives e.g. committed, ambitious, charming, good leader, hardworking, organized, detail oriented, good communicator.
- You have to back up your claims with examples. Do not overdo or overstate because that can leave doubts about the legitimacy of your letter in the receiver’s books.
- Nothing negative should be mentioned at any cost.
Closing or Ending a Character Reference Letter
- The last paragraph should reinforce your confidence in your friend. If your friend wants to use the letter for future references as well, it’s better to write an open ended recommendation.
- For example ‘I strongly recommend David for any position where leadership qualities, courtesy and commitment are required.’ Close the letter with your contact information and offer to be there for future inquiries.