How To Write a Reference Letter for a Friend (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 18, 2020

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Are you feeling excited because your good friend is finally going after that job they really want? You think, “finally! This is exactly what they need.” You want to do whatever you can to help them out, and it just so happens that they’ve asked you to write a reference letter for them. The problem is, you aren’t exactly sure where to start.

You might be wondering if a reference letter is different from a letter of recommendation, and more importantly, what you should include in your writing. What is an ideal length, and what will the employer be looking for?

Writing a reference letter is all about selling your friend’s personality, experience and accomplishments. Of course, keep in mind that they will be submitting their own resume too, so you should focus more on what makes them an ideal worker, rather than experience they’ve already mentioned in their own documents.

A good reference letter should leave a positive impression on the employer, and allow them to understand what makes your friend special. If you do that, the letter will be a great help to your friend, and bring them one step closer to getting that shiny new position.

Fortunately, this article will give you an overview on how to write a glowing reference letter for your friend.

The Basics: How you Should Format your Letter

First and foremost, you should know how to format your reference letter. As with other job related letters, such as a cover letter, you will include a heading.

You should include your name and address, as well as the company’s name and address.

Ideally, you should know the name of the potential employer, however, it is very common not to. If you don’t know the potential employer’s name, simply address the letter “To Whom it May Concern”.

However, If you do know their name, make sure to use an appropriate title. You shouldn’t assume women are married, so it’s good to favor Ms. over Mrs. In addition, if you know they have a doctorate or phD, you should use the title Dr.

Here are examples of headings:

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
  1. Robert Sperling
    888 Lyne St.
    Hillsburg, KY, 01230

    September 16th, 2020

    Sarah Parker
    History Museum
    742 Dru Rd.
    Hillsburg, KY, 01230

    Dear Ms. Parker,

  2. Jerry Fitz
    93 Herring Rd.
    Roland, CA, 59421

    September 16th, 2020

    Best Restaurant
    58 Clarendon Rd.
    Roland, CA, 59421

    To Whom it May Concern,

Perfect! Now that you know how to address your letter, it’s also important to understand what employers are looking for in your 3-4 paragraphs. Keep in mind that most employers prefer a short reference letter. Therefore, your letter shouldn’t exceed a page, and ideally, should be around half a page. That being said, you should focus on writing only what you believe will have the most impact on getting your friend hired.

Keeping to 3 or 4 paragraphs is ideal, because each paragraph will serve its purpose without making the letter too lengthy. Your first paragraph serves as an introduction, your second serves as the body, and the third is your conclusion and contact information.

Finally, once you are finished you can end the letter with “Sincerely”, followed by your name.

What to Include in your Letter

Now that you understand formatting, it’s time to discuss the content of your letter. Remember that while templates can assist in writing a reference letter, it’s still important that a majority of your letter is in your own words. Do your best to make it feel personal, so the employer truly believes that you can speak for your friend.

As mentioned previously, your first paragraph is your introduction. Therefore, you should state your relationship to your friend, and why that relationship is valid in the context of the letter.

You may want to include how long you’ve known your friend, especially if it’s a long period of time, so the employer will believe that you know them on a personal level.

Here is an example of an introductory paragraph:

I’m pleased to recommend Heather Ingrid for the Government position at Town Hall. I have known Heather for over a decade now, and know that she is a passionate, caring person who’s organized several community events throughout her life. With that in mind, I know she is highly qualified for a position at Town Hall.

As you can see, the first paragraph should focus on stating what the letter is for, and what your relation is to your friend.

Next, your body paragraph should focus on your friend’s strengths and accomplishments. What are some positive things about their personality or work ethic? Do they have defining credentials such as a previous job, internship, community service or college experience? These are all things to include in your body paragraph.

Generally speaking, a reference letter will focus more on complimentary fluff, rather than your friend’s credentials. After all, you’re trying to sell their personality, work ethic, etc. Some examples of complimentary words are: hardworking, diligent, passionate, motivated, leader, cooperative, patient, and intelligent.

With that in mind, here is an example of a body paragraph:

This year Willow graduated with her Graphic Design degree from Arts University, and as her friend I know it was a tireless effort for her. When in class she worked diligently on her pieces, and often finished before the rest of us. Yet, she never sacrificed the quality of her work, as she carefully executed every detail. Willow has a truly creative mind, and would produce amazing artwork for your company.”

Finally, your last paragraph is rather simple, as it should reiterate that you are happy to recommend said person for the job, and contain your contact information.

Here is an example:

Without hesitation, I am happy to recommend James for this position, as I know he would be an amazing asset to your team. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at jfitz@mail.com or (222) 222-2222.

Sincerely,

Jerry Fitz

Reference Letter For A Friend Example 1

Now that you’ve seen all the pieces of a reference letter, it’s time to assemble them to get a full picture. Therefore, here are a few sample reference letters for you to use:

Alice Newberry
20 Williams St.
Cheshire, CO, 77777

September 8th, 2020

JP Bank
38 Newgrange Rd.
Cheshire, CO, 77777

To Whom it May Concern,

I’m pleased to recommend Josh Parker for the Teller position at JP Bank. I have known Josh for over half a decade now, and this summer I had the privilege of working with Josh in our BD Bank Graduate Program, where I watched him excel at his work. With that in mind, I know he is highly qualified for a position at your bank.

In college Josh often tutored me in many of our classes, as the way he communicates makes difficult topics easy to understand. He’s intelligent and hardworking, so it’s not surprising that he graduated at the top of his class. In addition to that, he has prior experience working in customer service at Finance Co., and took part in an accounting internship at Morgan Accounting.

Without hesitation, I am happy to recommend Josh for this position, as I know he would be an incredible asset to your company. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at anewberry@mail.com or (111) 111-1111.

Sincerely,

Alice Newberry

Reference Letter For A Friend Example 2

Molly Smith
433 Snape Rd.
Froon, NH, 01230

September 8th, 2020

Rune National Park
833 Rune Rd.
Marigold, TX, 10987

To Whom it May Concern,

I’m writing to recommend Arthur Grant for the Park Ranger position at Rune National Park. I have known Arthur for nearly a decade now, and can easily say that he is highly qualified for a position at your park. In high school he did environmental work for our local school districts, and in college he created an experimental program that aimed to get more kids involved with our National Parks.

As a child in our hometown near the White Mountains, Arthur always talked about how much he wanted to visit Rune National Park. He’s poured his heart and soul into his education, and he has such a passion for your park in particular. On top of that, he’s a hardworking and intelligent young man, who has a bright attitude and eagerness I’ve seldom seen elsewhere.

Without hesitation, I am happy to recommend Arthur for this position, as I know he would be an amazing asset to your team. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at msmith@mail.com or (555) 555-5555.

Sincerely,

Molly Smith

Remember, keep your letter brief and focus on personalizing it to fit your friend’s needs. Make sure you make it clear to the potential employer that you really know your friend, and try your best to make them seem like a memorable, positive person for the employer to look forward to working with.

Keeping all these tips and formatting rules in mind, you’re ready to get started on a glowing reference letter for your friend!

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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