35+ Sample Personal Reference Letters

What Are Personal Reference Letters?

A personal reference letter is basically like a recommendation letter in which people who know applicants away from work can vouch for these candidates’ character. And this letter is used to strengthen one’s application for a school, job, housing, and other opportunities. Compared to professional reference letters, personal reference letters are more focused on the applicants’ soft skills and personal traits as a way of standing out rather than just talking about solid work performance.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92% of managers observe background checks on employees.

What Are the Types of Personal Reference Letters?

A personal reference letter is often associated with job applications as they are normally given to an employer along with the resume, application letter, or cover letter. However, the letter can also be used for other situations. And it will be easily distinguished when you learn of the personal reference letter’s basic types.

Employment Personal Reference Letter

The most notable type of a personal reference letter would be how it is linked to employment. Also referred to as a job reference letter, this type of letter is a powerful tool for applicants to have a higher chance of getting the spot they applied for. As mentioned by SHRM, 92% of managers do background checks, and checking the employment personal reference letter is one example. It is also through this letter that managers can prevent believing in fake resumes because other credible people who know the applicant are writing personal reference letters and never the applicant.

Admission Personal Reference Letter

When it comes to academic slots, an admission personal reference letter is at play. The most common example is when a student submits a reference letter along with an enrollment form to support one’s admission. In college admissions, for example, personal references speak a lot to show how qualified a student is according to previous academic records and fields. So if you are not that confident with your admission interviews and exams, you should include a personal reference letter to bolster your chances of getting in.

Community or Membership Personal Reference Letter

Besides employment or student recommendation, there are personal reference letters catered for community-based programs and memberships. Just like a character reference letter, the letter can help you get accepted for housing applications, immigration applications, volunteering admissions, and so much more. Writers of these letters aim to talk something positive about the candidate’s moral character and related qualifications.

What to Include in a Personal Reference Letter

Writing a personal reference letter comes off easy when you start familiarizing its common inclusions. Although the content of every personal reference letter varies from one example to another, there is a common denominator in such examples. And the basic inclusions of a personal reference letter are:

Heading: A personal reference letter opens with a heading, just as how you write a business letter. The heading includes the writer’s contact details, the date, and the recipient’s contact information as well. You can include branding as well such as company logos and signature colors. Emails need not include this part but you will need the subject line in writing an email.Subject Line: The subject line introduces what the letter is mainly about. And your subject line or introductory statement should at least include the name of the candidate you are talking about and the position the candidate applied for. At least this part reminds you right away of who is being talked about and what it is wholly for.Salutation: Just like how you write any informal or formal letter, you have to address to whom it may concern. The salutation is generally the first paragraph in a letter and you should state the recipient’s correct name to prevent confusion.Paragraph One: Your personal reference letter’s first paragraph is where you talk about how you know the candidate you are talking about. Also, don’t forget to state how long you know the person and why you are even qualified to write this formal letter. Clearly, you are someone credible to be asked to write the letter whether you are a friend, coworker, character witness, or in any position. In that sense, paragraph one is mainly an introduction until you can expound further details in the next paragraph.Paragraphs Two and Three: Be more detailed in the second and third paragraphs of your personal reference letter. An example is to enumerate why you think the person you are recommending is qualified. State what such candidates contribute that can interest the recipient of the letter. You can mention their achievements and your experiences with them that made you say they are worth hiring. A tip is to mention information that is relevant to the position the candidate is applying for. Consider this part like a testimonial letter where you say positive things about the candidate but are actually true.Conclusion with Summary: After stating what needs to be said, create an executive summary of the major highlights you said about the candidate. Most importantly, make a final statement that you highly recommend that person without any reservation. The conclusion also includes your contact information in case the recipient has more questions from you after reading the personal reference letter.Complimentary Close and Signature: Be sure to end the letter with a complimentary closing statement such as “Sincerely yours” and a signature. You may go for the handwritten or digital signature. What matters the most is that you have inputted both your name in print with a signature above to confirm that you wrote and attest to the details inside the personal reference letter.

How to Craft a Riveting Personal Reference Letter

Unlike business reference letters where a group or company is being represented, a personal reference letter talks about one person only. That means the observations, feedback, and experiences written by whoever was asked to make the letter will all be about one specific candidate. And now that you know what a personal reference letter is, its types, and its inclusions, you are ready to master the steps on how to make a personal reference letter.

Step 1: Optimize a Personal Reference Letter Template

First things first, check out the 23+ sample personal reference letter templates found on top of this article. Those are your options to edit and download a template rather than writing letters out of scratch. Templates save your time and effort in making a personal reference letter because you are guided on how such letters are made. Various samples are even up for grabs such as a character reference letter for student, a personal reference letter sample for a friend, and more detailed letter examples. Choose a template now!

Step 2: Present the Personal Reference Letter’s Inclusions

Recall the basic personal reference letter inclusions from the heading down to the complimentary close and signature. That is your standard business letter format for personal reference letters. Just be sure to be organized in inserting one inclusion to another in your document wherein the flow is still readable and easy to follow. Proper placement and allocation of the letter’s inclusions will make your letter more effective. Most importantly, maintain a formal tone since it is a professional letter of recommendation.

Step 3: Be Goal-Oriented from Start to Finish

Stick to the goals and objectives such as writing about your main points succinctly right from the introduction down to the explanation under the second and third paragraphs. That means your statement of purpose, the official statement of referral, the name of the one being recommended, and your relationship with the applicant are crystal clear in the document. Although flowery words are good to hear, they won’t make your letter any better because, most likely, managers are busy and would rather read a short but concise letter.

Step 4: Focus on the Candidate’s Good Traits and Details

You may get flattered that a candidate has chosen you to write a personal reference letter but you have to remember that the document’s intent is not about you. Gravitate towards the applicant’s traits, characteristics, background, attitude, skills, and other relevant details. Also, note the positive stuff about the candidate because negative aspects will only lessen the chances of the candidate getting hired. A tip is to review the application’s qualifications and requirements to know what set of details are relevant to tackle on the document.

Step 5: Honesty Is a Must

Swear on your part that you are being honest the whole time in writing the personal reference letter. Remember that you are not only affecting your candidate’s reputation but also your own. When employers find out you lied about your statements, they won’t see you as a credible person anymore and it will be bad for your branding. Or worse, there could be charges given against you for applications dealing with serious matters. Hence, be genuine with your work and you won’t create any drama.

Step 6: Insert Supporting Details

Last but not least, incorporate supporting documents or files to the letter if necessary. Maybe some of your statements sound too good to be true and you can help employers do the fact-checking process by showing them proof through supporting documents such as award certificates, achievement forms, and other files. However, only insert supporting files that prove the validity of your statements and not just random documents.


What are the other names of a personal reference letter?

A personal reference letter can also be referred to as a personal letter of recommendation, character reference letter, or character recommendation letter.

Who can write personal reference letters?

Credible people who know the candidate really well can write personal reference letters, including previous teachers, managers, clients, coworkers, guidance counselors, friends, or family friends.

When should you write a personal reference letter?

Expect to write a personal reference letter when a candidate asks you to make one and when you know a candidate lacks work experience but actually has the potential for the role of being a student, worker, etc. Most importantly, these candidates have the soft skills that make them qualify for a position.

Did someone ask you to write a personal reference letter for them? Take it as something to be thankful for. But at the same time, make sure you only write it for someone you know personally or someone whom you are confident is actually qualified for the role the candidate wants. And most importantly, develop a professionally made personal reference letter using free sample templates for your reference here at Sample.net. Download now!