Consider the hiring manager’s situation. He has to hire someone that won’t disappoint, who will bring equal or added value to a company’s enterprise or to the enterprise of the department that he oversees. This is why hiring manager’s go to such great lengths at obtaining accurate information about you, information beyond your competencies. They want to know of your criminal record despite your ability as a programmer. They want to know of your personal habits despite your years of financial experience. So if you want to work for someone else, then you’ve got to hand too many aspects of your life over to them before you even sit down for an interview. So a Reference Letter benefits them. It puts them in the driver’s seat so to speak. The advantage is completely theirs. They don’t ask for just one letter; they ask for three. So you should know how to format them and what to include in the letter.
Contact Information and Greeting
If you are writing the letter to an individual or hiring committee, include their contact information at the top of the letter and in your greeting. If you are writing a general letter, you could write to “Whom it May Concern” or simply start your letter with the first paragraph.
The first paragraph of the reference letter explains your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and why you are qualified to write a reference letter to recommend employment or graduate school. Mention the relationship (personal or professional) you have with the person you are recommending.
Second Paragraph (and Third, and Fourth)
The middle paragraphs of the reference letter contains information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified, and what they can contribute. If necessary, use more than one paragraph to provide details. Be specific and share examples of why this person is a qualified candidate. If you can, relate specific instances where you observed the person successfully using skills required for the position.
In the closing paragraph, offer to provide more information and include your contact information (phone and email) so you are available to give a verbal recommendation, or answer further questions if necessary. You might also reiterate that you recommend this person “wholeheartedly” or “without reservation.”
Close your letter with a formal closing and your signature. Here’s how to end a letter with examples of business closings.