Good Practice to Write a Personal Character Reference

Gabriel Mihalcea

If you have a friend or an ex-coworker who wants to get employed in a new workplace, they may need alongside a profession reference, a personal character reference. They are counting on you, and you are about to write one. What should you take into consideration?

Every single workplace has distinctive procedures on how should look a personal character reference. The idea behind it is to add information about the other person’s private life (or professional to a limit if you used to work with the person you are writing the reference for).

That is at least the part of a written reference and sent by email. Most workplaces may require a reference via the phone or both. But to cover this article, I will share with you some tips on what to consider when you write a personal character reference for a friend, as I’ve managed to do a few in the past and researched it a bit over the edge.

Set a professional level of writing style.

A reference will appear to be more acknowledged and come with a much more solid impression if it’s written in a professional style, even if you write it for a friend. You don’t need to know how to write on this level, but the approach I had after I wrote my references was that I was looking for academic synonyms for common words, giving at least a touch of this writing style.

I will share with you below an example of how this comes:

Bad example: “I used to work with him, and he was okay. He is hard-working and a good person.
Good example: “I was involved in working with the referred for a long period of time. He has shown an extraordinary level of integrity which is mainly reflected in his working style. He made a significant contribution to the company, which exhibited him to be ‘Employer of the month.’

Even if the above example is not perfect and can do some polishing, I quickly wanted to capture the idea of how would look a professional vs unprofessional line in a personal reference.

Make sure you correct and proofread the reference.

Yes, I am not talking only about punctuation, but the comprehensive grammar has to be impeccable. It doesn’t mean that if you have mistakes, they won’t consider your reference, but it will directly reflect on your quality as a referee, and it may statistically impact the acceptance of your friend’s new workplace.

It’s a personal reference; make sure you add a ‘personal perception.’

Be realistic and add as much knowledge about the person you are writing the reference for. You don’t have to be all positive; in fact, I would not recommend you to be 100% positive about your friend in the reference because that may look a bit off. You can write 5% of minor flaws and downsides in order to balance it out.

Think how it would be out of a 15 points personal reference, all 15 to be profoundly positive, distinctly describing the referred with no flaws at all — would that be realistic?

Make sure to keep it short and to the subject.

You are not writing an article about your friend but give a reference. Those should be short, in a total of a couple of hundred words, even less. There is no guideline on how long your reference should be unless specified by their employer.

Introduce yourself, and be thankful for the opportunity to write the reference.

Being friendly and professional by introducing yourself before you write the reference points goes a long way. You have to keep it short, and it should be less than 35–40 words. The reference is not about yourself, but sharing a common background with the referred may go a long way in the introduction to capture the employer’s attention on who drafted it.

Finish the same way as the introduction. Make sure you capitalize and offer the option for the employer to contact you if further information is required.

A finalizing point.

Aside from the email address used to send the personal reference, many employers may require you to write sensitive data such as your address, phone number, date of birth, other contact methods etc. It really differs from employer to employer. Those fields should not be mandatory if you don’t feel confident sharing that information; however, the employer should strictly respect your privacy, and your personal reference should remain private.

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I am a freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience and had built from scratch a large photography blog which I eventually sold as I changed my writing field. I am now writing news articles from around the UK, relationship advice and self-help.


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