Some reference letters are professional in nature; others are personal – and some are a mixture of both. Every situation requires a different type of reference letter to be written for it. For example, an employer writing a professional reference letter will concentrate more on how well an employee has worked at a particular position. There will be a lot of information about skills, experience and accomplishments – everything that a new employer would want to know about a candidate’s ability to contribute to the company.
However, personal reference letters do not hold a lot of “professional” information. A personal reference letter is all about how the employer or supervisor knows the candidate and his or her personal attributes that will help in meeting the demands of the new workplace. There are four things that you need to specify when writing a personal reference letter:
• Information on who you are
• What your connection with the candidate is
• How a candidate is qualified for a position and
• Information on specific / related skills
A personal reference letter will begin like any other reference letter – with a salutation or a “to whom it may concern” header. The first paragraph should contain information on how you know the person you are recommending – is he or she a friend, colleague or a team member? Are you a supervisor or an employer? Basically, a personal reference letter is written to provide a recommendation simply because the writer knows the person he is recommending.
Paragraph two and three makes the main body of the recommendation letter. It is usually more detailed. You can write why you feel that the candidate is qualified for a job and how much he or she can contribute towards a company. You will need to mention specific skills here that you know an employer will look for in someone applying for this position. You can also mention the person’s accomplishments so that a prospective employer can get a clearer view of what a candidate is all about. It is not important to limit this information to one paragraph – if you have more to say about the candidate, by all means, do! But make sure nothing you write is exaggerated or blown out of proportion as you may get the person you are recommending into a lot of trouble later on!
The conclusion section of a personal reference letter is reiteration of the entire letter in one line. What is important at this stage is to offer to provide further information about the candidate if needed. You will need to add your telephone number or an email address so that you can be reached. And you are done!
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