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How to Write a Reference Letter

Writing Reference Letters for Employment


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Dimitri Otis

It is important to know how to write a reference letter, because almost everyone is asked to provide a reference at some time during their career. Whether it's for an employee, a friend, or someone you've worked with, it is important to be prepared to write an effective letter of recommendation.

How to Write a Reference Letter

Request Information

If you're not sure what to write in your reference letter, ask the person for a copy of their resume and a list of accomplishments. This will give you guidelines to use when composing a letter.

What to Include in a Reference Letter

First Paragraph
The first paragraph of the reference letter explains your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and why you are qualified to write a reference letter to recommend employment or graduate school.

Second Paragraph
The second paragraph of the reference letter contains specific information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. If necessary, use more than one paragraph to provide details.

Third Paragraph
When writing a specific letter referring a candidate for a particular job opening, the reference letter will include information on how the person's skills match the position they are applying for. Ask for a copy of the job posting and a copy of the person's resume so you can target your reference letter accordingly.

Use a Reference Letter Template

If you're not sure what to write, use a reference letter template and personalize it to include your information.

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