Referral Letter


The term referral letter is used to describe a document sent to an employer that outlines the observed skills and work experience of a candidate.  Referral letters are written by anyone that has worked alongside the job candidate in the past, including coworkers, supervisors, as well as teachers.


Referral letters are written on behalf of individuals actively seeking a job.  The best letters are written by people that have directly observed the job seeker in the work or academic environment.  The objective of the referral letter is to compel the hiring manager to take a closer look at the job seeker's resume.

The person providing the referral needs to be an enthusiastic participant.  It's essential they have a positive attitude towards the job applicant's past performance, which allows them to provide a powerful and fact-filled endorsement. It's important the letter be written in a personal, relevant, factual, and concise manner.

The following outlines the important structural elements of a referral letter:

  • First Paragraph:  includes a strong recommendation statement and explains how the writer has come to know the job seeker.
  • Middle Paragraph(s):  includes specific examples of the behaviors, knowledge, and results the writer observed when working with the job seeker.  Including facts, such as quantifiable results, adds to the perceived strength of these observations.
  • Closing Paragraph:  the referral letter should finish the same way it started.  This means the writer will need to repeat their sincere endorsement of the job seeker.  They can also offer to answer any questions the reader might have about the applicant.

Related Terms

resume format, cover letter, job hunter, recruiter, character reference, references