February 28, 2024

What Is a Character Reference Letter?

A character reference letter is a type of written document which testifies for an individual’s character and personal traits. It is usually given by a person who knows the person well but is not related to, for example, a friend, teacher, employer, or coworker. This kind of letter is commonly used in different situations where the personality of an individual is a part of consideration, for example job application, legal matters, college admission, and other situations where a personal recommendation is desirable.

The letter seeks to present a complete and favorable portrait of the person’s characteristics, emphasizing such qualities as integrity, dependability, and work ethic. It could contain particular incidents of the person’s conduct or victories that reflect these traits. The aim is to provide the addressee (e.g., the hiring manager, admissions officer, or judge) with a more profound understanding of the individual’s personality, which is usually beyond what professional qualifications and experiences could offer.

What makes a character reference letter different from a professional reference letter is mainly its attention to personal attributes rather than professional achievements or skills. It’s a significant document that may sway the opinion of those deciding on the person in question, presenting a more rounded picture of the individual’s character and potential.

What should a character reference letter say?

A character reference letter is a document that has been written by a person who happens to know the job candidate at the personal level. It can be written by a friend, neighbor, relative, or some other acquaintance. The main role of the reference letter is to give an idea of the ethical and social behavior of the job candidate, said California employment attorney Brad Nakase. By focusing on the particulars of the individual, the letter enables prospective employers, institutions, or court officials to know the personal context of the applicant and his capacities in a wider form than professional accomplishments.

Here’s what a character reference letter should generally include: Here’s what a character reference letter should generally include:

Introduction and Relationship to the Applicant: Begin the letter by giving your name, your occupation, your relationship with the applicant, and the length of your association. It builds the grounds for the reliability of your approval.

Positive Traits and Examples: Specify the positive personal qualities of the applicant, for example, honesty, integrity, responsibility, patience, kindness, and empathy. Give instances of when such traits were exhibited. This may include cases where the applicant exceeded his/her role to assist others or demonstrated an outstanding character during hard times.

Contextual Relevance: Customize the characteristics and examples to be adequate for the job or purpose for which the reference is being written. For instance, in the case that the letter is designed for a job application, concentrate on the qualities of the person that make him/her a suitable candidate for the job. If it is a court case, the features that indicate moral judgment and responsible persons should be the ones to focus on.

Comparison to Others: Whenever possible, make a comparison of the applicant with others of similar rank to highlight his or her standout features. The comparison analyzed informs about the applicant’s extraordinary nature in the context.

Recommendation: Close with a powerful recommendation of the applicant, expressing your faith in their appropriateness for the job, program, or similar scenario. The recommendation should be clear, but it should not be over the top.

Contact Information: Provide the contact information and express your readiness to supply additional details or answer questions. This also comprises your phone number, email id, or any other necessary contact information.

Every letter should be individual and composed with the aim of making a profile of the candidate as a person, without mentioning his professional accomplishments. The positive, honest, and specific letter will serve as a strong advocate for the individual’s application.

About the author 

Kyrie Mattos

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