How to Write a Reference Letter Which Scores

How to write a reference letter which gives your colleague’s career a boost?

When you are asked to write a recommendation letter for a colleague, relative or friend, only say yes when you feel confident that you can write an honest, positive letter. Therefore you need to know the person quite well, for instance when you have worked closely with him/her.


Follow the next step on how to write a reference letter:

  • How to write a reference letterStart stating that this is a reference letter and mention the applicant’s full name.
  • Continue with stating your relationship with the applicant, and how long you have worked with him/her or know him/her.
  • Explain why you would recommend this person.
  • Describe the applicant’s professional qualifications and skills. Good to mention are, if applicable: ability to handle multiple responsibilities, meet deadlines and prioritize workload, a good sense of integrity and confidentiality, initiative, energy level, interpersonal skills, level of commitment, ability to communicate (written and/or verbal), flexibility, etc.
  • State the reason why the applicant leaves, if relevant.
  • End with a last positive phrase, and don’t forget to offer that you are willing to answer questions.

Example of how to write a reference letter

Below reference letter I have ever received from Grant, one of my former employers. I am still very proud of this letter, and I believe that this would serve as a good example:

To whom it may concern

It is with pleasure that I write this personal reference for [Full name].

[First name] worked with me for 5 years, as management secretary. She started as department secretary, and from day one it was clear that she was dedicated to her profession. She integrated quickly, showing flexibility and receptiveness to alternative ways of working. Indeed, many of her suggestions and insights contributed to fine tune the work relationship within the management office. Soon she promoted to management secretary.

How to write a reference letter which scoresPersonally I experience [first name] as a partner ensuring a watertight management office, with both an overview of the business structure and content, and an attention to the finest detail of closed loop communication. Her networking is excellent, and on many occasions, our clients showed solely satisfied compliments.

It should be clear from the above that I did not relish the moment that [first name] announced her intention to expand her work experience, leaving in search of the next challenge. However, it was clear that our operation could no longer offer [first name] the growth she was looking for and deserved.

I have been privileged to work with [first name] and it is with great pleasure that I commit this recommendation on paper, knowing fully that she will be an asset to any employer whom she chooses to approach. I am willing to field any question you may have.

Yours sincerely,

This example on how to write a reference letter shows that the more personal and honest you write, the more successful your recommendation letter becomes.

More information

Now you know how to write a reference letter which scores. Would you like to have more support on writing letters, please, refer to the page How to write a business letter. In case you need to know more about career issues, refer to the jobs and career portal.

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