A positive Character Reference can be extremely influential in helping an employee, colleague, or friend attain a potential new position. A Character Reference will not only discuss the candidate’s ability to successfully perform on a given job but will also discuss personal characteristics that contribute to his/her qualifications. In this regard, typically the person writing the Character Reference will know the candidate very well, both inside and outside the workplace, and can attest to the candidate’s personal qualities, as well.
There are various reasons for writing a Character Reference on behalf of a candidate for a specific job or academic institution. Character references are primarily requested to learn more about an individual’s integrity and qualifications. Sometimes an employer may want a Character Reference from someone who does not have a working relationship with the candidate at all, but knows him/her outside of the job, in the community, with family and friends. Hiring Managers want to gather as much information as possible in order to assess a candidate’s qualifications as well as personal attributes. They want to know how an individual will interact with others as well as knowing they possess the technical skills. A few traits that employers value may include:
Before agreeing to write a character reference you should have a complete understanding as to the reason for the reference letter; Who will be reading it? What is the position? What are the requirements? Make sure you are qualified to offer a reference for this individual. A good way to determine what to say in the letter is to ask for a copy of the job description.
Any Letter of Reference, after the salutation, is typically organized in three parts:
The first paragraph should include an opening in which you describe yourself and your relationship to the candidate, including your name, title, scope of your responsibilities, how long you have known the individual and in what capacity. In that way, the hiring manager will know the context of your connection with the candidate and how to value your opinion. You should also state either in the beginning or ending of the first paragraph that you are enthusiastically recommending (name) for the position of (title) at (XYZ Company.). As an example,
Dear Mr. (Hiring Manager), *when possible include the name of the person to whom this letter will be written
I am delighted to be writing a Character Reference on behalf of JANE DOE for the position of Legal Assistant at the (XYZ Law Firm). My name is (Name), Managing Partner at (ABC Law Firm) located in (City.) Founded in 1995, we are a firm of 75 attorneys specializing in Legal Litigation and Contract Law. Ms. Doe has served as my personal Legal Assistant for 5 years, and not only possesses excellent technical skills but also has consistently demonstrated her willingness to work hard, exceed expectations, interact positively with clients and respect confidentiality.….etc.
A second paragraph will present additional views on the person’s character and viability for the position. This paragraph should speak about specific skills, qualification, ethics, character, responsibility, reliability and leadership - or any attributes that will be important to the organization. If the candidate achieved certain goals, those should be mentioned along with specific examples that reveal the candidate’s temperament, and personality. Try to tell a story about the person so that the hiring manager will have a picture of the individual, as well as an understanding of your relationship to that individual. It may be appropriate to add more than one paragraph to offer examples of the candidate’s experience and character, which will be of ultimate value to a future employer.
However, a Reference Letter should be short but informative. One page should be sufficient. Always include a few examples with the content to support your statements. For example:
I have known (Name) for ten years and was his supervisor in the last five years. During that time I found (Name) to be an ethical, intelligent employee/colleague who has demonstrated a willingness to work hard and go beyond expectations. When we collaborated on (Example), this individual (Name) was reliable, responded promptly and took a leadership role as the project progressed. As a direct result of his efforts, we exceeded our sales goals which contributed directly to the bottom line. For those and many other reasons, I strongly believe (Name) will be an excellent addition to the team at (XYZ) company.
In the final paragraph it is a good idea to restate your strong recommendation for the individual, and offer to be available for further information if the recipient has some questions. Then provide your contact information, and close with your signature. An example might be:
For these reasons, I enthusiastically recommend (Name) for the (Title/Position) and believe he will be an incredible addition to your team. Along with his knowledge of the (XYZ industry), his willingness to work with others, his high ethical standards and excellent communication skills will be a tremendous asset to any organization.
Below is an example of a strong character reference letter:
Dear (Mr.Mrs.Ms. Name),
It is my pleasure to enthusiastically recommend (Name/Title/Company) for the position of (Title) at (XY Company.)
As the senior executive at (Company), I had the opportunity to supervise (Name) during his tenure as Vice President from 2020 to 2023. Our division, comprising 40 professional sales and marketing managers, is responsible for the global distribution of (products). Our annual revenue exceeds 1 Billion, of which (Name) had oversight responsibility.
(Name) exhibited an impressive work ethic and an ability to independently manage a wide-range of diverse responsibilities both competently and efficiently. He always demonstrated curiosity and enthusiasm while executing all tasks in a timely manner. Because of prior experience and command of multiple languages, (Name) was able to successfully engage in international projects and negotiations with individuals at all levels. His strong communication skills were evidenced by his ease in interacting with high-ranking, international officials and team members.
An example of (Name’s) management skills was when he had to take over a project for an individual who left the company suddenly. The transition was seamless, and the project was delivered on time and within budget.
I am highly confident that (Name) will be an excellent addition to your team, whose understanding of your line of business will be a valuable resource as well. It is my unique privilege to recommend (Name) for the position of (Title) at (Company).
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (phone; email).