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Character Reference Letter: What It Is and Examples

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is a character reference letter?What's included in a letter of character?How to ask someone to write a character reference letter on your behalfExample of a letter of character

Guide Overview

Character reference letters during the job application process

At some point in your career, you'll likely be asked to either provide or write a character reference letter. These letters are commonly used during the hiring process and help hiring managers get a better understanding of an applicant's character and work ethic. Here we explore what a personal reference is, what should be included in this type of letter, how to ask someone to write a letter of character on your behalf, and a sample character letter you can use to guide you when writing your own.

What is a character reference letter?

A character reference letter, also referred to as a letter of character or personal reference letter, is a letter written by a person who is familiar with the job applicant and can vouch for their work ethic, skills, and character. While professional reference letters are typically written by previous or current employers or managers, character letters are written by anyone who is able to speak to your personality and abilities.

People you may ask to write a letter of character on your behalf include:

  • Neighbors
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Teachers
  • Advisors
  • Coaches
  • Mentors
  • Coworkers
  • Managers

Learn more: 5 Email Templates to Use When Asking for a Reference

What's included in a letter of character?

If you’re asked to write a character letter for someone, there are several things you should include in the letter, such as:

  • Your full name and contact information
  • The date you’re writing the letter
  • The full name, job title, and work address of the person you’re writing the letter to
  • An appropriate salutation, such as Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. First Name Last Name
  • Your relationship with the job applicant and how long you have known them
  • Two or three of the applicant’s top skills as they relate to the job they are applying for and specific examples to support each skill
  • Your contact information

Learn more: How To Ensure a Glowing Job Reference

How to ask someone to write a character reference letter on your behalf

The following are steps you can take when asking someone to write a letter of character on your behalf:

1. Choose who you’re going to ask

The first step is to consider who you’re going to ask to write the personal reference letter for you. You should select someone who knows you well and can honestly speak to your character and skills as they relate to the job you’re applying for. Do not ask someone who may have a biased opinion of you, such as a spouse or a close family member.

2. Create a no-pressure situation

Not everyone is able or willing to write a character letter, and it’s important to let the person you’re asking know that it’s okay for them to decline if necessary. If the person doesn’t have time or the willingness to provide a strong recommendation letter for you, it will ultimately have a negative impact on your job pursuit. An example statement you could use when asking someone if they’re willing to write a personal recommendation letter is as follows:

If you’re okay with it, I’d like to use you as a personal reference for a position I’m applying for. I believe you’d be able to positively speak to my qualifications. Let me know if this works for you, and if not, I completely understand.

3. Provide the necessary information

If the person you ask agrees to write the letter for you, provide them with all of the relevant information required to write and submit the letter. Information to offer includes the position you’re applying for, who to address the letter to, how to submit the character reference, and when the letter needs to be submitted by.

4. Thank them for their time

After the individual submits the letter on your behalf, be sure to show your appreciation for their time. You can send them a thank you letter or simply thank them in person.

Learn more: 6 Tips To Make Your References Work For You

Example of a letter of character

The following is an example of a personal reference letter you can use as a guide when composing your own:

Jack Jameson

172 Wakahoochie Drive

Tampa, Florida 37683

(812) 979-4756

To Whom it May Concern:

I had the pleasure of working alongside Jessica Smith at Northwest Industries for five years. She was both a colleague and a friend and is talented in many areas. During our time working together, Jessica demonstrated immense creativity and dedication to her job.

Jessica is one of the hardest working people I’ve worked with and is committed to not only completing her duties but ensuring they are done in the most successful and efficient way possible. She always sought out opportunities to help others in the workplace and regularly offered her guidance to new employees during their training process.

Once, when a new employee was being trained in their position, the designated trainer fell sick and missed several days of work. Jessica stepped up and accepted the responsibility to provide training to the new employee while the original trainer was out sick, and continued to keep up with her own work all the while.

Jessica is the type of person who is always willing to go above and beyond, and her positive attitude is an attribute that has an uplifting effect on everyone around her.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Jessica for this position and any other position she may go after in a professional capacity. She is someone you can truly count on to get the job done and will be a valuable asset to any company she works for.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance in this matter, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any further questions regarding Jessica’s capabilities for this position.


Jack Jameson

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