Job seekers, student applicants, and people looking to buy a house are just a few individuals who are likely to need a character reference letter.

This way, employers, universities and financial institutions will have a third-party, unbiased opinion of a candidate’s character and personal qualities, helping them to make an informed decision.

These characteristics emphasize the individual’s ability to perform effectively in different circumstances and are often quite a significant deciding factor in the decision-making process. 

In this article, we’ll dive into a character reference letter, how to write one, and how to request one from a trusted source.

Personal Reference Letter Templates

What is a Character Reference Letter?

A character reference letter, otherwise known as a personal recommendation letter, is a document that highlights a candidate’s abilities and qualities of their character.

This type of letter is usually written by someone familiar with the applicant and can attest to their personal characteristics. The document serves as evidence for the candidate’s integrity, work ethic, reliability, and overall suitability for the position or opportunity they are seeking.

Unlike professional references, personal references are written by individuals who are not employers and serve as evidence of someone’s unique traits.

This helps companies and institutions determine whether a candidate would be a suitable match by giving them insight into the personality and qualities of the applicant.

Why are Character Reference Letters Important?

Character reference letters allow hiring managers, universities or other organizations to get an unbiased opinion of a candidate’s qualities and characteristics.

These letters can show organizations that a candidate is well-liked and that they leave a lasting impression on those they spend a considerable amount of time with.

They also prove trustworthiness for organizations with vulnerable populations or confidential information. Strong values, morals, and a strong sense of integrity mean that a candidate is more likely to land a role.

When Should a Character Reference Be Given?

Character references are typically given to employers who ask for references to gain a sense of the candidate’s personality during the interview stages.

A reference letter allows them to get a sense of the individual’s personality and whether they would be best qualified or suited for the job. An effective character reference letter can help you land a job that would have been challenging to get otherwise.

When a person feels that their employers won’t provide favourable references for them, they may require a character reference letter from a peer.

In some circumstances, particularly when someone lacks previous experience or employers, they may require a character reference letter template to obtain particular employment.

Personal Reference Letter Samples

Who should I contact for a character reference?

Before reaching out to someone for a character reference letter, consider who would be the best person to write one for you. You should feel that they know enough about you that they’d be willing to confidently write a letter of reference for you with no questions asked.

Consider someone who has known you for more than a year and can attest to your skills and positive traits. Some examples of good recommendations include close friends, academic advisors, professors, teachers, coworkers, clients, suppliers, or even a family member.

Alternatively, think about who else in your life can attest to your personal characteristics. For example, if you volunteer your time to a charity or you’re part of an organization, you could ask your group leader or other members if they’d be willing to write a character reference for you.

Also, consider past groups you’ve been a part of. This could include things like SpiralScouts, TrialLife, Church Youth, Karate, Jujitsu and other groups that focus on agriculture and developing life skills. You can even ask individuals for whom you have previously washed cars, walked dogs, or babysat.

How to Write a Character Reference for Someone Else

There are a number of things you should include in a character letter if you’re requested to write one for someone. Some examples are:

  • An introduction including your full name and phone number.
  • The date on which you write the letter.
  • The full name, occupation, and place of employment of the recipient.
  • An appropriate greeting such as “Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss…”
  • Your relationship with and how long you’ve known the candidate.
  • Two or three of the applicant’s top abilities are relevant to the position they are applying for, accompanied by concrete examples that support each ability.

Next, let’s consider five important steps with examples when writing personal reference letters for someone:

  1. Describe your connection to the candidate
    How are you familiar with the candidate? Be as detailed and specific as you can. For example, “I volunteered alongside Phil serving the youth at our local church in 2010,” or “Susan and I worked together as waitresses at [company].”
  2. Describe your relationship with the candidate
    How long have you known this individual? You can use phrases like “I’ve known Phil for more than six years, including the two years we spent together in high school” or “Susan and I have worked together for four years.”
  3. List favorable traits and provide examples
    Give the employer at least three insights into the candidate’s character and how they might benefit the business. These attributes include commitment, strong communication, leadership, optimism, efficacy, dedication to quality, punctuality, patience and other pertinent soft skills.
  4. Conclude by making a suggestion
    Your recommendation should be stated in the last paragraph. As in, “For these reasons, I recommend Susan for this position and feel that she would be a worthy asset to any organization.”
  5. Provide your contact details.
    Include your email address and mobile number to be easily contactable. This is for the person receiving the letter to be able to follow up on the authenticity of the letter.
    It’s important to think long and hard about your decision to write someone’s sample reference letters. Make sure you can write a good, truthful character reference letter before agreeing to do so. If you are unable to, it’s better to decline so that they can ask someone who can write a stronger letter.
    If you’re not feeling confident enough to write a character reference letter but don’t want to go into detail about why you’re declining, explain this to the candidate by saying you are unfit to write the letter.

If you decide that you are able to write the letter, keep the following in mind: 

  • Educate yourself – If you want to compose the letter, be sure you have all the information you require. Ensure that you are aware of the letter’s purpose (whether it be for a specific job, a college application, etc.), how to send it, who to send it to, and the deadline. Ask if the person has a CV or another detailed document outlining their qualifications. You can then use this as a guide while writing the letter.
  • Be precise – Focus on just three to four traits or skills the applicant possesses that make them a good fit for the position or program in your letter. Avoid mentioning the candidate’s personal struggles and focus on how to highlight them as a valuable asset.
  • Look into the position – To understand the traits the employer or school is looking for, visit the job description or the school website. Try to provide examples of where the person displayed each of these traits.
  • Give your contact details – Give the company or group a way to get in touch with you if they have any additional questions.
  • Use a business letter format – At the top of the document, be sure to include the date, your contact information, and the prospective employer’s contact information. Finish off by signing in both your handwriting and typed signature. However, you are not required to follow this format if you send the formal letter by email.
  • Proofread and edit your letter carefully – Ensure your final copy is polished and professional. Before you send the letter, have a friend or family member proofread it.

Character Reference Letter

Character Reference Letter Example

Below are the three most common types of character reference letter examples. The first is a general letter that can be used in just about any circumstance. The second one can be used for a judge or the court, and the third is for a friend or coworker.

General Character Reference Letter Sample

ABC123 Pty Ltd

507 Albany Lane

Paris, France

September 7th, 2020

To whom it may concern

My name is Amber Baker, managing director at ABC123 Pty Ltd. It is with great pleasure that I’d like to recommend Susan Smith. I’ve been in acquaintance with her for the past ten years, and she has proven herself to be loyal and dedicated in both her professional and personal life.

Susan is a great leader and mentor and gets along easily with other people in the workplace. Throughout the years of working together, she has formed a very positive opinion with her excellent interpersonal skills, creativity and success-oriented approach.

I highly recommend Susan Smith for whichever position she is applying for. In fact, I am honoured to provide this character reference letter for Susan and hope that the information I have provided gives you a better understanding of the outstanding individual that Susan is.

If you have any further questions about Susan’s qualities and abilities, please feel free to contact me anytime.

I wish her all the best for her future endeavours.

Kind regards

Amber Baker

(123) 45678910

[email protected]

Sample Character Reference Letter to a Judge or the Court

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to you with reference to case 42738, which involves Susan Smith, who is seeking custody of her child, Samantha.

I had the opportunity to meet Samantha 5 years ago, and we have been good co-workers and friends. I can speak to you with authority about the moral condition of Susan, and I hope that you will take this letter into account when you make your final decision on the case.

In summary, Susan is a great person and an excellent friend. She has always had a generous, kind, and devoted character towards others. She is someone with a lot of integrity and really makes an effort to be the best possible version of herself at all times.

I understand how difficult it is for you to have to make a decision of this magnitude and under these circumstances. I trust that you can look at this letter and feel the love and support of Susan’s family and friends.

In saying that, we trust your decision in these court proceedings always to consider the best for this child custody case.

Thank you.

Amber Baker

(123) 45678910

[email protected]

Character reference letter sample for a friend or coworker

ABC123 Pty Ltd

507 Albany Lane

Paris, France

September 7th, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

The goal of this letter is to present the good character of Alice Jones. I’ve known her for the last twenty years, having worked together at ABC Hospital. During this time, I’ve observed her remarkable growth and the skills and abilities she’s honed will undoubtedly allow her to thrive in any professional setting.

Her talents in technology, management, and communication make her an ideal candidate for the role of Managing Director at your company.

Throughout her tenure with us, she has been an invaluable asset. Her strong leadership ability set her apart from her peers. She’s adept at handling conflicts while maintaining team cohesion.

In every project we’ve collaborated on, she demonstrated top-tier management skills, ensuring timely completion without compromising profit margins.

I am confident she will excel as a Managing Director, and wholeheartedly give her my highest recommendation. Should you require further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the details below


Amber Baker

(123) 45678910

[email protected]

Personal Reference Letter Examples


A character or personal reference letter is a letter written by someone who has a fond relationship with the person requesting the letter. Character letters for a potential job candidate are given to a prospective employer, outlining professional capacity, academic achievements, and professional qualifications.

That said, it’s good to have people on your side when you require a character reference letter. Understand that not everyone can always assist, and there are situations where it’s acceptable to decline writing a personal reference letterIt’s always better to ask someone you already know and who you know values your abilities and positive character traits.

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TemplateLab September 29th, 2023
Rita Akekelwa
Rita Akekelwa