Importance of Using a Reference Letter Template (With Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A reference letter is a written recommendation used to attest to an individual's skills, experience, or character. As you advance in your career, a colleague, past student, or friend may ask you to help write a reference letter. Knowing the different types of reference letters and the importance of using a template to guide you can help when drafting the letter. In this article, we discuss the importance of using a reference letter template, explore the different types of reference letters, provide a list of templates that can guide you when writing your own.

Importance of using a reference letter template

A reference letter template is a guide that contains the necessary elements of a reference letter. If you haven't written a reference letter before, a template can be helpful in the process. Note that the template only serves as a guide, as you may still edit content to suit the particular situation. Using templates to write a reference letter is important, especially if you're unsure what kind of reference letter the candidate expects you to write.

Knowing this helps ensure that you include only information pertaining to the scenario. You can customize the letter by adding personal anecdotes about interactions you had with the candidate.

Read more: What Are Reference Letter Templates (With Tips and Examples)

Types of reference letters

There are various types of reference letters, so it's critical to understand what they accomplish with your recommendation. Here's a list of different types of reference letters:

Academic reference letter

An academic reference letter is a written document that describes a student's academic accomplishments, personality, and aspirations. Educators, teaching assistants, school officials, counsellors, and coaches frequently have information about a student's strengths. They're often the most qualified sources for writing academic letters of recommendation, indicating how the student may be a good fit for the new school or role. Graduate schools can use academic reference letters to complement a student's transcript and help organizations better understand who the student is and what they want to achieve.

They can also supplement a student's resume and cover letter to a company by providing more information about their academic achievements. The following are the different types of academic reference letters:

  • Reference letter for university

  • Reference letter for graduate school

  • Reference letters for job applications

  • Reference letters requesting financial assistance

  • Reference letters for university teaching assistant positions

Related: How to Request a Graduate School Letter of Recommendation

Character reference letter

A character reference letter provides an account of a person's individual qualities and characteristics. While resumes highlight experience and qualifications, a character reference letter relates to the characteristics that someone performs well in a professional or academic capacity. Usually, people such as a mentor, volunteer leader, or family friend can provide this kind of reference.

This provides more information about a candidate's personality and traits, which aids in determining whether the candidate is a good fit for the organization. When writing a character reference letter, be specific and mention instances relevant to a person's character. For example, you may write, I first met Robert while volunteering to plant trees in our neighbourhood. He showed his enthusiasm toward saving the environment and he was a delight to work with. He was very attentive to other volunteers. This shows that the person is easy to work with and pays attention to detail.

Related: How to Write a Reference Letter for a Friend (With Examples)

Employment reference letter

A past employer writes an employment reference letter for their former employee. These letters attest to the candidate's previous work performance and achievements from the employer's standpoint. You can mention what capacity and for how long you knew the employee and highlight their specific achievements, skill sets, and abilities. For example, an employer may write, I've always put a premium on time management among my team members and Alice never failed to deliver. An example was when we had to deliver a product within a tight schedule and Alice worked hard to ensure we met the deadline.

The letter may also include your contact information so that potential new employers can easily follow up to ask additional questions if necessary.

Related: How To Write an Experience Letter

Professional reference letter

Colleagues or coworkers usually write a professional reference letter. The aim of a professional reference is to attest to the work ethic and skills of the candidate. In general, these letters provide information about the candidate's job performance and skills from the perspective of a peer rather than a superior. A colleague may write about how understanding and respectful the candidate is regarding their work with them.

Templates for reference letters

Below are different templates of the various types of reference letters:

Academic reference letter template

Here's a template you can use when writing an academic reference letter:

To whom it may concern,

I'm writing this reference for [student name], a student I was happy to teach during their [education level] at [institution name]. As their [mention your relationship with them in an academic capacity], I have watched them grow into a passionate and knowledgeable student.

[Student name] took [mention the course you taught] from me and earned high grades in those classes. Based on [student name] grades, attendance, and class participation, I can rate [student name] academic performance in my class as superior.

In conclusion, I highly recommend [student name] for this academic program. If their performance in my class is any indication of how well they perform, [student name] is going to be a positive addition to [institution program]. If you require any additional information, you can contact me at [phone number] or by email at [email address] anytime.

Sincerely,
[Your name and title]

Character reference letter template

Here's a template you can use when writing a character reference letter:

I've known [candidate name] in several capacities for [number of years you've known the candidate]. They were [capacity you know the candidate] for [number of years]. [Candidate name] is [character traits they possess].

[Candidate name] also volunteered at [name of institution] and was responsible for [state their responsibilities]. While working with [candidate name], they were always [character traits they possess].

[Insert personal story about their character.].

I'm certain that [candidate name] is an excellent fit for your [institution or company]. They bring the skills and experiences you seek in an applicant, and they can also quickly become an asset and assist [institution or company] in any way they can.

If you require any additional information, you can contact me at [phone number] or by e-mail at [e-mail address] anytime.

Best wishes,
[Your name].

Related: How to Write a Character Reference Letter for a Friend

Professional reference letter template

Here's a template you can use when writing a professional reference letter:

To whom it may concern,

I'm writing this reference on behalf of [candidate name]. I know [candidate name] because we worked at [company where you both worked] for [number of years you worked together with the candidate. All through working together, [candidate name] was very [work ethic and skills they possess].

[Candidate name] was [characteristics of the person you're describing]. This made it quite easy to work with them. They [achievements you witnessed the candidate accomplish], which makes them a great asset to [company or institution you're writing to].

I'm certain that because of [skills and accomplishments mentioned in the previous paragraph], [candidate name] is going to be instrumental in your organization's success. If you require any additional information, you can contact me at [phone number] or by e-mail at [e-mail address] anytime.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Read more: How to Write a Reference for a Professional Contact

Employment reference letter

Here's a template you can use when writing an employment reference letter:

To whom it may concern,

I'm writing to attest for the [candidate name]. For [number of years of employment], I was their employer at [company or organization]. Based on our work relationship, I'm confident that I can advise you on their competency for [role or opportunity].

[Candidate name] worked as a [job description] for [organization name]. I've noticed [brief list of achievements] in the [length of time you've known the candidate]. Specifically, [describe a specific achievement that showcases a required skill or knowledge for the role].

[Candidate name] consistently shows [qualifications and skills, qualities, or attributes relevant to the job for which they're applying] in addition to [achievement from the previous paragraph]. They are a [work ethic or characteristics of the person you're describing].

I'm thrilled to recommend [applicant's name] for the [position or opportunity name]. If additional information about [candidate name and work] at [company] is necessary, I'm pleased to provide it. If you require any additional information, you can contact me at [phone number] or by e-mail at [e-mail address] anytime.

Best wishes,
[Your name, company, and title]

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