Careers & Education

Examples of a character reference letter

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Character reference letters are important to an applicant applying for a job or entrance into a university.
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Helpful examples of a character reference letter

For the most part character reference letters do not pertain to an economic relationship. They are written less formally and are by their nature highly personalized. At their best, they are also quite straightforward.

The examples of a character reference letter usually describe the applicant's positive personal attributes. They are written by people who are loyal to the applicant - friends, neighbors, family members or clergy. The character traits discussed in these letters are objectively stated, but are subjectively chosen for inclusion. In other words, the good things go in and the bad things stay out.

If the addressee is not known or the reference letter is required for general purposes, use 'To whom it may concern', instead of 'Dear Sir or Madam'. Obviously, if the addressee is known then use the full name and address as this will increase the professionalism, and thereby the credibility of the letter. Character reference letters should be recently dated, short and to the point, and very professionally presented. It is generally best practice to use high quality personal stationery, in white or cream. The guidelines for choosing a paper are generally the same as choosing paper for a resume and cover letters.

The following examples of a character reference letter are good guidelines to follow. However, once you finish reading and have a basic understanding of what a reference letter is and how it's written, you can take your knowledge to the next level by reading up on how to write a reference letter completely on your own!

Date To whom it may concern

I confirm that I have known (name) for (number) years. (State relationship - social, business, working together in some other capacity, club, activity, project, etc.)

At all times I have found (name/him/her) to be (state characteristics - eg, dependable, reliable, hard-working, conscientious, honest, peace-loving, courteous, etc - to be as helpful as possible think about what the reader will most prefer to see, in terms of satisfying concerns, or seeing evidence of relevant required skills or characteristics). I'm happy to provide further information if required. (optional) Yours faithfully, etc.

To Whom it May Concern:

In the four years I have known John Edmonds I have been impressed with his dedication to any endeavor he has been involved with.

John demonstrates a giving and generous nature in his free time. Last year he participated in a mission trip with his youth group to build housing for deprived people in Mexico. He had to finance his own trip, and when he returned he had to make up all the class work he had missed.

He also demonstrated honesty recently when he found a wallet in the parking lot with over $100 in it. This wallet was not only turned in to the service desk of the store, but John looked up the phone number of the owner and called them to make certain they were aware of where to locate it.

I hope you will give serious consideration to selecting John for the position he is seeking. I feel he would be a good addition to any organization. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this letter.


Here's one of the examples of a character reference letter for someone applying to a school:

To Whom it May Concern: Jennifer Smith would be an excellent candidate for the scholarship you are offering. In the eleven years that I have known Jenny, she has been an excellent role model for my two children. She is the person who taught them to be gentle with her new kitten. She demonstrated extreme patience in repeatedly showing them how to handle it. Her corrections came with explanations that helped them understand why it was necessary to do what she was asking of them.

Jenny also demonstrates empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. She makes a special effort to include the neighbor's disabled child whenever it is possible. At the last block party she helped this child participate in the group dodge ball game. Another time, in an effort to communicate with a deaf fellow employee at her part time job, she learned some sign language.

I feel these attributes demonstrate someone with an exceptional character. Please consider awarding her your scholarship so that she may pursue her education. Sincerely yours, Edna Green

Note:  People in business use both company letterhead and personalized stationery, depending upon the type of communication. You will look most professional if you have a variety of writing papers to match to the purpose of the letter you are writing.

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