People are often asked by a friend to write a reference letter, and there are a few things that should be considered before they commit to writing the letter. First, the writer should be able to say good things about their friend honestly and second, they need to know who will be the recipient of the letter. If it is not possible to write honest recommendation, it is better to find a reason to decline to write the letter.
If the writer knows who will receive the letter, he or she will be able to focus their the letter on their friend's qualities that relate to the required areas. For example, a reference letter for a job application will be different than a reference letter for a bank loan.
A reference letter, sometimes called a recommendation letter is a formal document and should be typed as a formal business letter. There are many reasons why a person may need a letter of reference.
A few of the most common reasons are:
As mentioned above, the structure of the letter will differ according to the aim of the letter, but here is a general structure that may suit any type of letter of reference:
Using business-letter format, the letter should be addressed to the name of the recipient if it is known, or to Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern.
At the beginning of the letter, the writer should give one or two sentences that explain who he is and what is his relationship to the candidate. It should not be a lengthy description, but it should state how long the writer has known the candidate.
Confirm the Facts
The next paragraph should confirm the facts and information that is given in the applicant's application form. For a job application, this may include the candidate's previous job title, dates of employment and salary. For college admission, it may include the candidates academic status.
In the third paragraph, the writer can give his or her opinion of the character of the applicant along with concrete examples that demonstrate the good character. This may include qualities such as leadership, enthusiasm and altruism. The writer should be specific by stating the qualities the candidate has that will benefit the company and how the candidate will be an asset.
Finally, the writer should express appreciation for the time and consideration of the receiver and express willingness to give further information about the candidate on request along with his or her contact information.
In order to write a relevant letter, the writer should ask her friend for details about the job or institution. This includes any guidelines or rules that govern the submission. For example, if the letter should be a PDF or hard copy. The friend should also give the writer her CV so the writer has the personal facts about her friend. The writer should be positive throughout the letter but especially in the introduction and the conclusion.
The writer should keep in mind that there are some things that need not be mentioned such as weaknesses the applicant has, libelous comments and jokes, slang and casual language that could reflect badly on the candidate. Other things that should not be mentioned are marital status, political affiliations, race and religion. The writer should make sure the letter has no spelling or grammatical mistakes because these could reflect badly on the candidate. The candidate will be best served with sincerity. Exaggerated language and flowery descriptions may appear false and do more harm than good.
It is also important to be concise. Employers and admissions or bank officials do not have time to read lengthy documents. The writer should try to get all of the relevant information into two long or three short paragraphs. The tone of the letter should be polite and to the point. Sample letters and templates should be used carefully so the letter is unique and genuine and not appear to be copied.
Writing a good letter of reference may help a friend get a job, a loan or admission to the college of their choice. In order to make a good impression, the writer should start by explaining his or her relationship to the candidate, follow guidelines and rules for submitting the letter, present the candidate in the best possible light, be brief and sincere and use a professional letter format. If it is the first letter of recommendation the writer has been asked to give, it may make it easier if they pretend they are the recipient and write the things they would like to know.
By Andre Bradley