How to Write a Character Reference for a Friend (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 22 November 2022
Published 22 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A character reference letter is a written testimony of an individual's core values and behaviour. Writing one for a friend can increase their chances of receiving a favourable response, especially when applying for a job. By understanding the purpose of a character reference letter and learning to write one, you can present your friend as a promising candidate with exceptional character. In this article, we explain why it's essential to write a character reference for a friend, explain how to prepare character reference letters and provide a template and example to guide you.
Why write a character reference for a friend?
Writing a character reference for a friend is important because it can help the recipient gain more insights into your friend's work ethic, integrity and reliability. While these letters typically have a professional tone, they prioritise personal qualities over professional skills, educational background and practical experience. If a friend asks you to write a character reference, understand that your feedback can leave a lasting impression and influence the recipient's decision-making. Consider making your character reference letter informative and impactful, using personal examples and descriptive words.
How to write a character reference letter
You can follow these steps to write a character reference letter for a friend:
1. Ensure you qualify to write a character reference letter
Before agreeing to write this letter, ensure you're confident in your relationship with the candidate. Any member of your friend's social groups, such as colleagues, relatives, neighbours and social contacts, can typically endorse their character. If your relationship spans several years, you may be more qualified to discuss specific character aspects and how they developed their core values. Here are questions to help you decide whether you're the best contact to write a character reference letter:
Do you know enough of your friend's character to make the reference letter impactful?
Do you have the time to prepare a detailed character reference letter?
Are you prepared to provide supporting information and respond to any questions the recipient might ask?
2. Learn about the recipient
Ask your friend to describe the recipient to determine how to structure your letter. If you know who the recipient is, you can typically align your letter to meet expectations. For example, suppose your friend is applying for a teaching role at a school. You might discuss their kindness, patience and warm personality. Similarly, if they're applying to a medical school, you might outline their positive attitude, discipline and work ethic.
3. Provide your honest impression
Writing a character reference letter often requires you to be honest and objective. While your primary purpose is to recommend a friend based on character assessments, it's important your letter accurately describes their core values and behaviour. Aim to identify exaggerations and correct them to more honest character descriptions. You can use specific instances where you experienced certain character aspects or briefly tell a story to support your claims. Here are character traits you can discuss in these letters:
Discipline: The ability to focus on a task or goal to achieve a specific result.
Compassion: The ability to show empathy and concern for others.
Patience: The ability to control your emotions, especially when faced with challenging or time-consuming situations.
Flexibility: The ability to adapt to changing situations and expectations on the job.
Honesty: A core value that describes the ability to be truthful.
Loyalty: The feeling of support for an individual or business.
Resilience: The ability to experience and adapt to challenges and overcome them.
4. Encourage future contact
Write an effective conclusion in the final paragraph. You can reiterate your confidence in your friend and emphasise that they're a suitable candidate. Extend an invitation for the recipient to contact you with further questions by including your contact details.
5. Include a professional sign-off
Conclude the letter with a complimentary close, such as "Sincerely" or "Thank you." Follow this information with your full name. If your friend is submitting the letter in person, you can include a professional signature. Otherwise, you can USE your email signature to end the character reference letter.
Tips for writing a character reference letter
Here are the best practices to write a character reference letter for a friend:
Proofread for errors: Check your letter for grammar and spelling errors using online tools and proofreading it. You can also show your friend the letter.
Be direct and brief: While it's important to discuss your friend's character extensively, ensure the information you provide is relevant.
Use a professional format: Ensure you choose a readable font, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri. You also want to write in a formal tone, avoiding slang terms and abbreviations.
Discuss character traits in paragraphs: You can outline each quality in a paragraph to improve the letter's readability. Aim for three to five paragraphs, including an introduction, middle and conclusion.
Character reference letter template
Here's a template to guide you in writing a character reference letter:
[Introduce yourself, discuss why you're writing the character reference letter and describe what qualifies you to write one.]
[Describe your relationship with the candidate, present your impression of their character and share practical examples. Use relevant words when explaining the candidate's positive qualities.]
[Recommend your friend based on your honest impression of their character. Provide the recipient with confidence that hiring your friend would benefit their organisation.]
[Invite the reader to contact you with any questions by writing your contact information.]
[Include a professional signature.]
Character reference letter examples
Review these examples to help you learn how to craft a compelling character reference letter:
Sample character reference letter for scholarship application
This example shows how to write a character reference letter for a friend applying for a scholarship:
Dear Mr Burlington,
It's my pleasure to endorse Wing Chan, my friend and colleague, for the YTRS Scholarship. My first meeting with Wing occurred more than five years ago when I, as the human resources manager, interviewed her at XiaoH Tech Innovators. She impressed all interviewers with her humble and friendly personality and got the human resources representative job.
During her time at XiaoH Tech Innovators, I found Wing to be sincere, diligent and hardworking. She also demonstrated an ability to handle confidential matters with discretion. When she monitored an employee for suspected breach of work ethics, Wing successfully investigated while maintaining discretion.
As a compassionate and considerate professional, Wing was a team member who assisted her colleagues and advised them on HR-related matters. Her professional experience in human resources, attention to detail and excellent teamwork skills were invaluable at XiaoH Innovators Tech. Wing also exceeded expectations to help an international employee rent a home in a preferred location.
Based on these experiences, I'm confident in endorsing Wing, and that she is a suitable scholarship recipient. Please feel free to contact me for more details about Wing's character.
Sample character reference letter for job application
This example shows how to write a character reference letter for a friend applying for a job:
Dear Hiring manager,
It's my privilege to endorse Jud Lau for the technical writer role at TechLuit. Jud was my neighbour for 18 years and is a childhood friend. During our childhood, I observed her innate writing talents and ability to simplify and improve technology content, earning her several awards, scholarships and grants.
Jud is a hardworking writer of exceptional character and integrity. She grew up in a family that lived the motto, “Character with competency.” For her first writer job after graduating from university, after she had already accepted a job offer, a competitor gave her an offer with higher pay and Jud didn't hesitate to decline the competing offer. She expressed that a job is a relationship that thrives when nurtured with integrity and honesty.
There are various occasions when Jud demonstrated impeccable character in her personal and professional life. I'm confident she would be a great addition to the team. If required, I will be happy to provide further feedback on Jud. Please feel free to call my phone number or email me at your convenience.
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