References ♦ from $40

References   (similar to Testimonials)

A definition of a reference is someone who can vouch for your character (and work experience if relevant).  A good reference is someone who knows you and who is willing to describe and, ideally, praise you when you are applying for a job.

Some North American employers may prefer North American references.  Think carefully about who can act as your reference, and ask them if it is okay to give their names.  This person could be a previous employer, colleague or friend. 

Make the Most of your References

Many people in your network might be pleased to speak to potential employers on your behalf, but you need to be careful about whom to select. Your reference holds the power to make or break an opportunity for you.  One questionable reference can eliminate you from the running.

Here are some strategies to keep in mind for gathering – and keeping – your references.

Approach only those you believe will be the most articulate, and supportive of your skills and accomplishments. Consider superiors, clients, team members, colleagues, etc.,…  Select high-quality business references. 

Don’t be afraid to expand your support group of respected professionals to include those who you believe can write a letter extolling your virtues. Reference letters can be included in your presentation portfolio when you meet with employers.

When you treat your references well, they are your best representatives.  When you want to ask someone to speak or write on your behalf, consider what you have done to nurture the relationship. To be effective, you can’t just ask for references on the spur of the moment. It takes time to cultivate a deep, mutually respectful relationship between professionals.

Don’t assume that your previous employer will provide a positive, in-depth reference on your behalf. In the past, employers may have automatically provided recruiters with subjective responses to a list of questions. These days, many companies are sensitive to human rights issues. To avoid any ethical or legal concerns, they typically will only provide your basic record of employment – dates and job titles. So, it is crucial that you maintain strong connections with colleagues from your past in order to provide their names to recruiters.

Type the names, addresses, and phone numbers of  three references on a separate piece of paper.  Only give your references to a potential employer when asked.

Keep your reference list up to date. If you can, give your references an idea of the type of job you are applying for and, whenever possible, let them know when an employer will be calling them.

Choose a variety of people to include as your references. You don’t want all supervisors or all co-workers. Mix it up the best you can.

Don’t provide references too early in the process.  I would not want my references (personal or professional) bothered by numerous phone calls/e-mails by prospective employers unnecessarily.  Protect their privacy above all. 


Character Reference – a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person’s qualifications and dependability; “requests for character references are all too often answered evasively”

reference, character

good word, recommendation, testimonial – something that recommends (or expresses commendation of) a person or thing as worthy or desirable


·  Reference Letter  

A reference letter or letter of reference is a letter in which the writer makes a general assessment of the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of a person … 

·  Recommendation Letter  

A letter of recommendation is a letter in which the writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended … 

·  Employment Reference Letter  

An employment reference letter (German: Arbeitszeugnis) is a letter from an employer



How to Write a Letter of Recommendation 

If you’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation, take the time to do it well. You have been asked for your opinion because it counts.

A letter of recommendation need not be too lengthy or wordy — a couple of concise paragraphs should already be enough to give a general idea of the credentials of the person you are recommending.

The following article provides tips on how to craft a well-written letter of recommendation. It counts.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

  Be part of making a good impression.



  1. 1

    Determine what the recommendation is for. Is it for a job, a volunteer position, a background check, personal reference, or an academic post? Write your letter so that it is focused on this purpose. For instance, if the letter is for a job, it should focus on the professional qualifications and conduct of the candidate.

  • 2

    List the qualities needed for the position. Get a copy of the job description, if you can. Otherwise, talk to the person you will recommend (and, if you know him/her, the recipient of the letter) and learn what you can about the requirements of the position. You do not have to know it in as much detail as you would if you were the candidate, but try to have some idea what it is about.

  • 3

    Know who you are recommending. If it’s somebody you don’t know as well as you would like, or haven’t seen in a while, ask for a resume or C.V. to be better informed. Spend some time talking to the person, too.

    • If it is somebody you don’t know at all, you should probably simply state that and decline to recommend him or her.
    • As you write the letter, do not simply parrot the resume. Instead, use it as a reference to support and expand upon your own impressions of the candidate and, if applicable, to remind yourself of the candidate’s accomplishments when you worked together.
  • 4

    If you can, find out to whom the letter should be addressed. Ask how to spell the name, if you need to.

  • 5

    Open the letter with a formal business greeting:

    • Dear Ms. Smith:
    • Dear Sir or Madam: (if you don’t know the recipient’s name)
  • 6

    State that you recommend the candidate:

    • It is my pleasure to recommend Jane Murphy as a candidate for Senior Cartographer.
  • 7

    State briefly how you know the person you are recommending and, if appropriate, explain your own qualifications to recommend the person. Put your title and company in the return address or under your signature. This portion might read as follows:

    • Dr. Murphy worked under my supervision for three years at Acme Industries. During that time, I managed the Department of Cartography, so I am quite familiar with her work there.
  • 8

    Describe which necessary qualifications the person has and how they’re important for the position. Be specific.

    • Dr. Murphy’s thorough knowledge of databases saved our company time and money, is far stronger than I have enjoyed working with Jane.
  • 9

    Include personal qualities and impressions of the person, if you can do so confidently. Again, be specific.

    • Dr. Murphy’s dedication to her work set a great example for the whole team, and her encouragement and mentoring of her younger colleagues will continue to benefit Acme for some time to come.
  • 10

    Close the letter by reiterating that you recommend the candidate and, if appropriate, invite the recipient to contact you.

    • For all of these reasons, I think Dr. Murphy will make a fine addition to your team. Should you have any questions, I invite you to call me at the number above.
  • 11

    Use a business closing and sign your name.

    • Sincerely,
    • Best regards,


Type the letter. It is more formal and businesslike, and your recipient won’t have to decode your handwriting.

  • The first time you name the candidate who is the subject of the letter, use his or her full name. After that, use either the first name or a title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and the last name, depending on how formal you want to be. Whichever you choose, be consistent.
  • Keep the tone and the content factual, businesslike, and specific throughout.
  • Be complimentary and positive, but be honest.
  • Avoid putting negative information in the letter. If you feel very strongly that you must mention a shortcoming of the candidate, be very specific and state clearly why you recommend the candidate anyway:
    • Mr. Forbes must occasionally miss work to care for his elderly mother, but he consistently makes up for this missed time, and I am confident that he will prove a dedicated employee, nonetheless.
  • If you are put in the position of writing your own letter of recommendation, perhaps for somebody else to sign, be honest and specific. Try to write as you would write about a candidate with your qualifications. Get help from a friend or colleague seeing yourself as others see you. Ask your friend to tell you how your letter comes across.
  • If you ask a candidate to write his/her own letter of recommendation, recognize that many people find it difficult to write about themselves in this way. Read the letter and make sure that you agree with what they have written before you sign it.
  • Don’t shy away from adding something a little negative in a letter of recommendation. This often shows that you are trying to be completely honest. However try and put the negatives in a positive ways, for example She has put a lot effort in her organisation skills, and while working here they have improved immensely”.


  • A letter of recommendation should focus on the key knowledge, skills, and abilities of an individual. Don’t spend your time inflating your letter of recommendation with excessive positive tones, as this is generally overlooked by recruiters.
  • Decide carefully whether to give a copy of the letter to the candidate, particularly if you express reservations. A recommendation may hold more sway if the recipient knows that the views in it are candid, and not written for the gratification or flattery of the candidate. 



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