A reference letter is written to assure that the individual who is applying for a post or who will use it for any personal purpose is credible enough and is qualified for a particular purpose. Reference letters may be used in transactions and procedures at work, in academic institutions, and even on organizations. The content of a reference letter varies on the reason why a reference letter has to be made and the understanding of the reference regarding the items that he or she should be able to write in the reference letter that can be helpful to the person who needs it. You may also see Letter Samples.
Reference letters play a vital role in the decision making process of the committee that screens the people who they will trust and give a chance to be a part of the organization. Not only does this document provide information about the competencies of an individual, it also encapsulates a person’s character and ethics.
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Inclusions of a Reference Letter
No matter what purpose it will be used for, a basic reference letter should include the following information:
- The name of the person who is writing the reference letter is very important to be indicated as he or she is most likely to be contacted by the entity who have requested for the reference letter. The basic information of the reference must also be included which contains, but is not limited to
- the person’s job position;
- the industry where he or she is practicing his or her professional expertise;
- the company or organization where he or she works for;
- his or her current location; or
- his or her contact information which can either be a mobile number, an e-mail address, or both.
- The relationship of the reference to the individual to whom the letter is for. The information that should be included in this portion of the reference letter are as follows:
- The level and kind of professional relationship between the two parties
- The duration of time that they have known each other
- The activities and other instances that the reference and the individual has worked together
- The date that the reference letter has been written
- The name and basic information of the entity who is expected to receive the reference letter
- The reason why the reference letter is needed
- The identification of the applicant and the circumstances that make the reference be willing to write a letter of recommendation for the person
- The evidences and occurrences where the applicant’s competencies, knowledge, and abilities may be proved and verified
- The strengths of the applicant related to the purpose of application that can help him or her to secure a particular position
- Relevant experiences that have been shared by the reference and the applicant
- Specific information about the work ethics, character, and people skills of the applicant
- The qualities of the person that make him or her fit for the position that he or she is applying for
- The possible contributions of the individual that you highly think would materialize should the organization accept the applicant which will translate to additional value that the organization can make use of
- The applicant’s technical skills, intellect, and maturity on items that will allow him or her to easily cope up and adapt to the events that are related to the application
- A conclusion regarding your recommendation which reflects your entire thoughts about the application. It can also be a roundup of the positive qualities of the applicant which you have seen for the duration of time that you have known him or her
A few of the people whom you can ask to write a personal reference letter for you are as follows:
- If you will use the reference letter for job application, your immediate head from your past employer is the best person to contact. It may be your supervisor or your manager.
- You can also ask for a reference letter from officials of your previous company who can be considered as valid references like your Human Resource Personnel, the counselor of the company, and even your workmates who have shared the same work experiences with you for a duration of time.
- If the reference letter will be used for academic processes, you can ask either your professor, thesis adviser, organization head, school mentor and guidance counselor to write a letter of recommendation for you.
- For more validation of your character and your additional value to the community, you can ask your community leader or officials of the location where you live to write a reference letter for you.
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Importance of a Reference Letter
A reference letter is deemed to be important for the following reasons:
- It allows the individual applying for a post to have someone validate his or her qualifications, which will make the company believe that he or she truly deserves to be considered for a post.
- It gives more information about the individual that he or she was not able to elaborate in any of the other application processes.
- It helps the organization or company to ask additional information about the individual, which may refer to either his or her character as a person or his or her professional capabilities.
- It creates an impact to the screening committee regarding the kind of professional relationships that the individual was able to create at his or her past works, which will let them have a preview of how the applicant will adapt to the environment where he or she will do the organization’s assigned functions should acceptance of application be granted.
A few of the other kinds of letters that are involved in the transaction but is not the reference letter itself includes the reference request letter and the job reference thank-you letter.
Reference Request Letter
A reference request letter is the letter sent by an applicant to a prospective reference to whom he or she will ask a request of writing a reference letter. A reference request letter includes the following information:
- The date that the reference request letter was written
- The name of the selected reference and the reason why he or she has been asked to write the reference letter
- The deadline when the reference letter must already be submitted to the entity who is asking for it
- The purpose where the reference letter will be used
- The items that should be discussed in the reference letter, should the applicant want to guide the reference in terms of writing the letter
Reference Thank-You Letter
Once all the processes has already been done or the reference has already submitted the needed letter to the company or organization where the individual is applying at, a reference thank-you letter may be sent by the person who requested for the reference letter. A basic reference thank-you letter has the following details:
- The discussion about the transactions that the applicant underwent
- A message of gratitude for the reference being given by the person
- The results of the transaction, if already available
- The advantages that the reference letter has provided
- The members of the organization who have talked about the recommendation, if any particular discussion has been made regarding it
It may not be necessary to write a reference thank-you letter, but it will make the reference tapped to write the letter to feel appreciated. Just remember that he or she took time to write a letter recommending you, so a few minutes of your time to thank him or her through a reference thank-you letter should not be that hard to give.
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Guidelines in Selecting a Reference
If you will select the person who you will ask to write a reference letter for you, here are a few suggestions that you may follow:
- Make sure that he or she is aware of your strengths and how you use it in the field where you are applying for a post. It will be better if he or she has been a witness of the activities that you have handled or if he or she is present during the times where your efforts have been exerted to make a project materialize with the best qualities present.
- It is very important to select a reference that is credible. A person who has a higher position than you do or someone who is an essential value to a company can provide all the positive differences regarding your application. It is very important that his or her field of expertise is related to the field where you are applying.
- The kind of professional relationship that you have with the person should be considered. If he or she is your mentor, it is best to select him or her as one of your references as he or she knows not only your ability to function well in the professional environment but this person is also aware of your character and how you work truly hard to achieve what you want and the items that you experience along the way.
- The number of months or years that you have spent with the individual is also a factor to take note of. The longer your relationship has been, the more evidences that he or she can provide regarding your performance related to your current undertaking.
- A minor consideration that you can make is to identify the online presence of the person including his or her social media accounts, professional pages and other information that may be found if he or she is searched on different engines and websites. Companies usually do a background check of your reference as well to base whether the things that he or she has stated is worthy to be taken note of.
Kinds of Reference Letter Used in Different Transactions
There are many reasons for requesting a reference letter. As said, it can be used in different fields and processes. A few of the transactions where a reference letter may be needed are as follows:
- One of the popular usage of reference letters is its purpose for employment. Employers need to have a background check to assure that the details in the information sheet that the applicant has provided them with are accurate. In a normal scenario, two to three reference letters are requested by a company to be submitted by an applicant.
- Landlord reference letters are used to assure that an applying tenant is capable to pay the rent and that he or she does not have any records of violence, criminal activities, misbehavior, and misconducts that can be a threat to other tenants of the property.
- Academic reference letters are used by students who would like to apply for a graduate school, an academic award or a scholarship. Usually, academic references focus on the academic achievements of the applicant which may include his or her grade point average in a particular period of time and the academic citations and awards that he or she has already received.
- Nonprofit organizations also need reference letters so that they can have a better foundation of a person’s application for volunteer works and other activities for the community.
- Some memberships also require a reference letter especially if a particular membership transaction will allow the individual to make decisions for the organization upon his or her entry.
If you are already thinking of asking someone to write a reference letter for you, we hope that the information that we have provided can help you with the initial part of your undertakings. On the other hand, if you are asked to write a reference letter for an individual, be sure that you have been guided by this article to provide a comprehensive reference letter that will be helpful in the kind of application that an individual is going through.