How to write Reference Letter Samples: Job, Business, Friends

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How to Write a Reference Letter

A reference letter can make all the difference between a candidate getting accepted or rejected for a job position or to a college. Irrespective of whether you are a person writing the letter for someone or requesting one from others for yourself; this guide will make the process of writing reference letter slightly easier. The fact is: many do not know the difference between a recommendation letter and a reference letter. The major difference between the two is that recommendation is sent to a known person/employer, whereas a reference letter is sent to an unknown employer. Additionally, a reference letter is used for introducing a candidate and vouching for his character, integrity and abilities.

Tips to write a reference letter
Tips to write a reference letter

Step 1: Agreeing to write a reference letter

If you have been asked to write a reference letter for a candidate, it is important that you ask the requester whether you are the right person for the job. You also need to question yourself whether you have positive things to write about the subject/requestor. If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, it is best to back out gracefully at the beginning itself. If however, you are able to come up with several positive qualities to write about the requestor, ensure that you brainstorm with him/her to come up with the proper things to say in the letter and also be sensitive about the deadlines.

Agreeing to write a reference letter
Agreeing to write a reference letter

Step 2: Guidelines for writing a reference letter

1. Explain how you know the subject of the letter and for how long you have known her.

2. Mention the qualities of the subject that make this person stand out in the crowd.  List her qualities and skills, preferably those that are related to the field of interest of the applicant, or the job position etc.

3. You must give references of her experiences and competency in the said field and also highlight her academic achievements, interaction with others, communication skills, judgment, problem solving skills, analytical abilities etc. 4. It is essential to omit the subject’s weaknesses; if you do not have anything optimistic to say about her, it is best to decline writing the letter in the first place.

5. You may also state your own qualifications so that the reader can be impressed with the letter.

6. Always emphasize the key points and elaborate meaningfully without repeating things that have already been said.

7. Ensure that you make every word count without being too brief.

8. List your contact details with a willingness to answer further questions.

9. A general rule of thumb: reference letter for a job may be one page long, and that for a college position may be one or two pages long.

10.Proofread the letter as it will represent both you and the subject.

Step 3: Template of a reference letter

Salutation-If you know the recipient, write ‘Dear Mr. or Ms. So and So’. Else you may write: “To Whom It May Concern”.

Para 1- This contains information about how you know the candidate and for how long. You must mention your details and why you are qualified to provide the reference letter.

Para 2– This should encompass details as to why the subject is qualified for the particular position. Explain how they can contribute to the position. If needed, you may use more than one paragraph to give these details.  Always ensure asking for the copy of the course/job position as well as the subject’s resume so that you can be as specific in matching the two.

Summarize the letter using words like “highly recommend”, or “recommend without reservation” etc.

Conclusion: This should have a brief mention of how the reader can reach you again for more information. Include a phone number/email in your return address or signature. End the note with ‘yours sincerely’.

Sample Reference letter

Your Name

Company Address


To whom it may concern,

XYZ has been an employee here at our organization ABC, Inc. She has been a pleasure to work with and has brought tremendous attention to detail to the project. She has excellent communication and people skills and has provided us with innovative solutions to various problems.

XYZ is tremendously organized, professional and always on time. She has always offered great assistance, when required. She is a talented young woman and is sure to be a terrific asset to any organization.

I refer her for any venture she chooses to pursue.

Yours Sincerely,

First Name last name


Reference Letter For Business School Sample

To Whom It May Concern,

It is my pleasure to offer a recommendation for Debra Williams. As the Chairman of the XXX, I have known and interacted with Debra, and I am convinced she deserves a place in the Business School program.

Debra came to XXX 3 years ago and joined the entry-level position of sales representative. It didn’t take her long to move through the ranks and after only 8 months, she attained promotion to a team leader. A few weeks ago, Debra achieved another milestone when the board appointed her into the management team.

Many people at XXX consider Debra a dedicated and enthusiastic leader. Through her impeccable dedication and unrivalled initiative, Debra has in a short time built a strong rapport with employees and clients. Due to this, team is more productive and happier.

I have no doubt that Debra has all the essential qualities for a business student and manager. If you offer her an opportunity at your renowned business school, I am sure she will better her skills and climb even farther in the career ladder. It is my hope that you consider my honest recommendation for Debra’s application.

Sincerely yours,

First Name, Last Name



Sample reference letter for graduate school

Reference Letter for X

To whomsoever it may concern,

As a [Title] of ABC School, I highly recommend X as a candidate for your graduate school.

While he was a student at ABC, X was involved in various projects including teaching courses to fourth grade students at the [XYZ School district]. He also taught art and drama courses to children and displayed high levels of energy and enthusiasm while accomplishing these tasks. X also challenged the rest of his class to think from a different perspective and was known to ask pertinent and penetrating questions.

X is known to share an incredible rapport with people of all ages. In fact, he has also worked with special needs kids who needed more guidance and support than others in the traditional classroom settings. I believe X’s patience and sincere concern for others makes him very approachable.

Get the Reference!
Get the Reference!

X also has an inherent ability to connect with students and teachers alike. He can make advanced and complex topics appear very easy. In fact, he was known to take on complex topics and handle them brilliantly. Needless to say that X has exceptional verbal and written communication skills. His assignments were always turned in on time, and they were invariably neat, well-written and well-supported.

I believe that X will be a terrific addition to your graduate program and an asset to any school. I recommend him without any reservations. Please do not hesitate to contact me further for any questions regarding his qualifications or background.


Name , Title ,ABC school

Reference Letter for a Friend

Your Name & Address


Name of Addressee , Company Name ,Address

Dear (Name/last name of addressee),

I am writing to you regarding xyz, whom I have known personally for several years. In fact, our friendship is nearly 10 years old. Over this period, I have found her to be a highly organized, responsible, personable and an easy going individual. I believe that her skills as well as experience make her an excellent candidate for xxx in your company.

I first met xyz in ABC elementary School. She was known to make friends quickly and was an excellent student with a flawless student record. Xyz also tutored and coached younger kids in many subjects and was known as a dependable and responsible teenager to the neighborhood families. Later, in college, she held an administrative position where she looked after the accounts, answered phones and made appointments. Her employers were highly impressed with her ability to work independently and in a neat and organized manner.

All throughout my association with her, xyz has been an active member of the community. She has volunteered for several organizations, and always been an energetic and active participant in local charity drives. If you have any further questions regarding xyz, please feel free to contact me by phone or email.



Email & Phone number

Sample Character Reference Letter



To whom it may concern,

I have known XYZ for many years. She has been a close friend of my daughter’s since many years. In fact; they have been together since their kindergarten days and I have watched her grow into the confident, friendly and mature young woman she is today.

While in school, XYZ assisted me in coaching younger students in art and dramatics. The group consisted of 9 and 10 year olds. She, herself was a skilled actor and brought a great deal of vigor and enthusiasm in the activities. She also maintained her leadership skills and ensured that the younger students were disciplined and well behaved during the practice sessions. With great skills and patience, this young woman was able to bring out the best from the youngsters. The entire group also looked up to her and idolized her.

It is time to get a reference!
It is time to get a reference!

I vouch for XYZ’s dependability, responsibility and honesty. At the moment, she is tutoring young students in various subjects including Mathematics, English and science. I have often heard parents praising her sincerity and patience. Many neighbors are known to ask specifically for her each time they are in need of a tutor for their kids, for help with specific school projects, or for baby-sitting etc.

I am confident xyz will be an asset to any organization. I recommend her for any position or undertaking that she chooses to pursue.

Do call or mail me if you wish to discuss this recommendation further.


First name, Last name



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