How to write a Reference Letter
Here are some easy guidelines (in no specific order):
Explain how you know the applicant and how long you have known him/her.
In what respect is this person exceptional to others you have known with a similar background? List the applicant’s exceptional qualities and skills, especially those that are related to the applicant’s field of interest or job search. Give specific examples to back up what you have written.
Refer to the requester’s competency in a specific field and/or prior experience, organizational and communication skills, academic or other achievements, interaction with others, sound judgment, reliability, analytical ability, etc.
Omit weaknesses. If you can’t write a positive letter of reference, you should diplomatically decline when you are first approached.
State your own qualifications. Why should the reader be impressed with your reference letter?
Emphasize key points that you want the reader to take note of on the resume or application. Be sure to elaborate meaningfully; don’t simply restate what he/she has already written.
Unless it is absolutely relevant, do not refer (either in a direct or implied reference) to the applicant’s race, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, or marital status.
Don’t be too brief, but be succinct and make every word count. Generally speaking, a letter of reference for employment should be one page; a letter of reference for school admission should be one to two pages.
List your own contact information if you are willing to receive follow-up correspondence or answer questions.
Make the ending strong without overdoing it. Undo praise can be viewed as biased or insincere.
Proofread! The letter of reference represents both you and the applicant.