Monday, September 17, 2012

How to write a letter of reference


I recently published a Job Search Tip:  Ask for a letter of reference.  There are some excellent reasons to take this extra step and to go one step further and write a template for your references to follow.  Click on the link above to read the full article! 

As a result, I have had several requests to share information on how to write a letter of reference and will summarize for you here.  Please feel free to email me for a Reference Letter Worksheet you can use to write a template for your references or to give to them for their use as a guideline! 

First, follow the typical business letter guideline and a return address (for your reference) and an addressee (blank or to a specific employer).  You should date and reference your letter as well your RE: should be your name and the position you are applying to if you know that. 

The first paragraph should introduce the letter writer – think of your top reference and write this with him or her in mind.  For example:  I am a general manager for a chain of food stores and have known Mr. Smith for 15 years.  In fact, I offered him his first job and was disappointed when he had to leave the position to relocate.

The second paragraph should indicate some of the knowledge, skills, or abilities that you possess as well as any achievements or qualities.  For example:  When working as a cashier, Ms. Baker exhibited excellent customer service as well attention to detail.  She was promoted to supervisor very quickly as she was one few employees whose drawer was never short.

In the third paragraph a strong recommendation should be made.  Be as specific as possible.  For example:  I would strongly recommend Susan for any position that requires interaction with customers, accounting, organization, or attention to detail.  The Customer Service Supervisor position she is seeking sounds like a perfect match for her!

Finally, the fourth paragraph can re-state, in a briefer version any of the above that you want to emphasize as well as a willingness to be contacted for more information (if appropriate).  For example:  Again, I am happy to recommend George for the Manager position with your company.  His supervision skills will be an asset to you, I am sure.  Please let me know if I can provide any additional information regarding his skills and abilities.

Close the letter using Sincerely, Regards, etc.  Include your references Name and best contact information below where he or she would sign.   The hardest part is remembering you are writing this letter about yourself from the person providing the reference.  It helps if you start by completing the From address and signatures as these will serve as a reminder!




Other articles that may be of interest:

Sep 11, 2012
When you are job searching and preparing for interviews, it can be helpful to secure Letters of Reference from prior employers. If possible, obtain one from each supervisor. If not, one can be a coworker, preferably in a higher ...
Aug 08, 2012
Chances are if you are job searching you have given some thought to who you might use as a reference. You should have a list of 10 people and their detailed contact information to meet the requests of various employers.
Sep 14, 2012
When you are job searching and preparing for interviews, it can be helpful to secure Letters of Reference from prior employers. If possible, obtain one from each supervisor. If not, one can be a coworker, preferably in a higher ...
Jun 19, 2012
Letters of Reference. At this point, you should have AT LEAST a draft of your cover letter, references sheet, and letter of reference completed. Ideally, you should be in the process of obtaining one or more letters of reference to ...
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