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The third paragraph should provide judgment upon the candidate’s skills and qualities (excellent
communication skills, organization skills, etc.) and should single out any exceptional qualities that the
candidate has – perhaps drive and enthusiasm, attention to detail, or ability to lead. It is important that the
letter describes experience, qualities, and skills that relate to the specific job opportunity.
Reference letters usually end on a positive note and clearly state that the candidate is recommended
for the position. If the writer is willing to receive further correspondence about the candidate’s application, it
is also important for the writer to include his/her contact information.
WHAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN A REFERENCE LETTER
Writing in an informal manner: Keep the letter business-like. Jokes, slang and casual language are not
appropriate and may harm the candidate’s chances.
Including personal information not relevant to the application: Mentioning the candidate’s race, political
stance, religion, nationality, marital status, age, or health is usually inappropriate.
Spelling mistakes, sloppy writing, or typos: This letter is hugely important and you should take care to
make sure it looks professional.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PROFESSIONAL REFERENCE AND A
A professional letter of reference should discuss your work performance and attest to the skills, experience,
and abilities that you have which best qualify you for the job. While the reference may discuss the applicant’s
personality, job performance, punctuality, teamwork, experience, and work ethic are necessary discussion in
a professional letter of reference. A professional reference is typically a current or former employer,
colleague, client, vendor, supervisor or someone else who has first-hand knowledge and can recommend you
A character reference letter discusses the candidate's personality, character, and overall abilities. A character
reference letter lacks specific information about the applicant’s previous employment. Often, this type of
letter does not describe how the applicant’s skills, abilities, etc. relate directly to the position for which
he/she is applying. Character references focus on a broad overview of traits and abilities without specific
references to the needs of the position.
REFERENCE LETTER EXAMPLES
You can find examples of full reference letters on About.com’s “job searching” section. This website lists
letters appropriate for a variety of situations. Here is an example of a professional reference letter.