Reference letter writing is normally performed to prove the skills and abilities of the applicant described in his resume. It is written by the previous employer or superior manager to prove that the bearer of the letter really worked for that organization.

At the same time, a positive personal reference letter written by an instructor or a professor can be helpful for a student in his future career. Considering the issue of employment, the letter can be useful for an employee as it will help to prove that he or she has enough skills to hold a specific position.

In Order to Write a Good Letter of Reference, the Writer Should Stick to the Following Recommendations:

  1. Gather all the necessary information about a person you are going to write about. Lack of such information can prevent you from writing a good letter of reference.
  2. Write down a list of characteristics that describe the person best.
  3. Ask a person to provide his diplomas and certificates, if any.  
  4. Note a list of issues you want to include in your writing.
  5. Divide all the aspects of person’s work, skills, qualifications and personal characteristics into paragraphs for better comprehension.
  6. Provide a little information about yourself and the way you are connected to the person you are writing about.
  7. Carefully write the body of the paper, covering all the necessary aspects of person’s life. 
  8. Check your letter for mistakes, as well as for the accurateness of the information provided.

Selecting Information to Provide in the Letter of Reference

Sometimes it is very difficult to say exactly how to write a reference letter. Still, there are a number of issues that must be considered, especially if you have no idea how to do a reference letter. They include:

  • Provision of person’s full name
  • Description of personal characteristics;
  • Positions the person took previously;
  • Personal achievements and qualifications of the person;
  • Information on how long have you known the person and your connection to him/her;
  • Life experience of the person;
  • Relevant skills to hold a specific position.

Additionally, the following information has to be considered in the process of writing a reference letter:

  1. If you do not know the person you are going to write a letter for well enough, it is recommended to have a meeting with him/her to gather necessary information.
  2. Take notes during the meeting in order to avoid making any mistakes.
  3. It is necessary to get copies of all diplomas, certificates or any other documents that can be useful. The information taken from them can be important in the writing process as it contains data on educational establishments and previous jobs.
  4. It is important for reference letters to use figures and facts instead of personal opinions and ideas. Nevertheless, personal evaluation of the person and his/her work is also a crucial aspect in the writing process. Anyone reading the letter will be interested in receiving information not only on candidate’s work experience, skills or education but also the opinion of people who used to know and work with him/her.
  5. The information in the letter should be represented without exaggeration and ambiguity. Moreover, it has to be properly organized in chronological order.
  6. Two chronological sequences can be used in the letters of reference, namely from the school time till present, and from present time to the beginning of school.
  7. Choose an appropriate writing style, which has to be precise and semi-formal. Never use informal, conversational language as you should sound convincing enough to be rusted. Do not use jokes, even if you write about your close friends.

If you still do not know how to make a reference letter, you should remember that there are things that should be by no means used in the letter, while some information can be skipped.

The Most Widespread “DO” Points Are:

  • Pay attention to the smallest details. Study the certificates, dates, locations, and testimonials very carefully. They will help you present the information in the best manner.
  • Make sure that the reference letter format is appropriate.
  • Do make drafts of the letter and check whether all the information represented in them correspond to reality. In case it should be improved, make necessary corrections.
  • Make sure that the information provided is reliable, legitimate, and can be proved by the third party.

The Most Widespread “DO NOT” Points Are:

  • Do not submit the first version of your letter of reference.
  • Do not start writing without taking a look at a similar letter. It will help you understand how to organize the information.
  • Do not skip any of the steps provided in the given article. Remember that a poorly written reference letter can become a reason of a candidate’s failure.
  • Do not try to show the candidate to the best advantage. Sure, you can make him look as a superman, if he is one. Still, do not exaggerate his achievements. Everyone who reads a letter can easily check the information represented in it and find out whether you wrote the truth or not.

At the Same Time, Trying to Write a Professional Reference Letter People Make Many Mistakes, Which Include:

  • Providing too many details regarding a candidate can have a negative effect as the aim of a letter is to present information that deals with his professional experience.
  • Lack of information on skills and abilities of the person you are writing about.
  • Lack of understanding of the submission process.
  • Fast and not attentive writing. Lack of concentration and sense of responsibility may hinder the writing and, consequently, the submission process.  
  • Not knowing how to do a reference letter, people often use informal writing, which, in combination with poor writing skills, is also a great mistake.