Character Reference Letter

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A character reference letter is a document written by a personal acquaintance that highlights the referred person’s positive attributes. These letters are used for job applications, rental applications, home purchases, or school applications, among other purposes.

Character reference letters should discuss attributes of the individual such as good grades and study habits, work ethic, personal kindnesses, volunteer work, or other attributes that can be seen primarily by personal acquaintances and do not have to do specifically with employer/employee relationships. However, character reference letters are often used for job applications, especially if the candidate has not held a job before and therefore does not have professional references.

How to Write a Character Reference Letter:

If you have never written a character reference letter before, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Include your relationship to the person – do you know them through a volunteer organization? Are you a friend? Family member? Former teacher? Do you know them through a book club? This helps the reader get a sense of why you highlight certain attributes in the letter.
  • Discuss a little about how your relationship evolved with the individual. This can help the reader know more about the candidate as a person, not just a potential employee, student, etc.
  • Talk about the character reference letter in context. You don’t just have to write personal things about the individual, you can also discuss why the attributes you discuss would make them a good fit for the job, school, or other opportunity.
  • Stay positive while talking about the candidate. A professional reference or academic reference may, in some cases, discuss negatives about the potential employee or student, which would be contrasted with their positives. However, in a character reference letter, it is important to show that the individual has good character, so focus on the good things.
  • Keep the praise to one page. Application letters from cover letters to resumes and yes, even character reference letters, should always stay at one page.
  • Consider the implications of what you write. It is not only important to state good things about the person, but keep them relevant to the opportunity they are applying for. If you find that you do not have anything relevant and positive to say for a particular context, do not just put the letter off, but tell the individual that you aren’t qualified to write the letter and suggest they ask someone else.

Why Should I Use a Character Reference Letter Template?

Character reference letters have a specific professional format that the reader expects to see. Not only should the letter contain specific information that is relevant to the position, but it should be formatted the way that other professional letters are formatted. To help you keep track of this formatting, use a character reference letter template – that way you can focus on the content without worrying about the correct format. Download our free character reference letter templates today to get started!