How to Write a
Character Reference Letter

A character reference letter is a personal recommendation that highlights the positive attributes of an individual.

It is often used in the absence of an employment reference for candidates with little or no work experience.

A personal reference letter can be used under a number of different job search circumstances. Select the sample character reference letter that best suits your particular situation. Adapt it for your own use.

When to use character reference letters

Character references are valuable in the following situations.

  • for job candidates seeking their first jobs
  • for job candidates with little formal work experience
  • for job candidates who have not worked for a long period of time
  • when previous employment references are unobtainable for any reason

What is a character reference letter?

It is a reference letter from a person who knows the candidate in a personal capacity rather than a previous employer. A personal character reference can be used as a recommendation for employment and should highlight the positive qualities of the individual.

This type of recommendation letter is more personal and less formal than a letter of recommendation from a former employer.

Who can write character reference letters?

The person who writes the reference letter should have sufficient knowledge of the individual for the character reference to be both credible and reliable.

Many people can be called on to write character references including business acquaintances, customers, church members, teachers, professors and neighbors. If you have volunteered for an organization ask one of the organizational leaders.

Sports coaches or instructors of activities you have participated in are another option. People you have conducted informal work for such as baby sitting, dog walking and lawn mowing can provide a plausible work-related recommendation.

Close relatives and friends are not usually considered the right people to provide a personal character recommendation.

What should be included in a personal character reference letter?

The introduction should clearly indicate how the writer knows you and why he or she is eligible to write a personal reference for you.

The letter should highlight your qualifications, the skills and behaviors the writer has first hand knowledge or experience of and why they would recommend you to a potential employer.

Positive attributes that are a recommendation for most jobs include: 

reliable, honest, organized, persevering, responsible, good communicator, hardworking, diligent, motivated, adaptable, helpful, conscientious, disciplined, enthusiastic, flexible, responsible, determined, loyal and energetic.

The character job reference letter should provide a potential employer with an overall picture of who you are and what you can contribute. Use this list of strengths to help you with this.

If the character reference is for a specific job opportunity it is recommended that the writer matches the highlighted skills and abilities to the job requirements.

Provide a copy of the job posting or use one of these sample job descriptions so the writer can accurately customize the personal character reference. This job skills list is another useful resource.

The writer should offer to provide further details if requested and provide a contact number or email.

A character reference should be recent, relevant, concise and
straightforward. The format and quality of the letter reflects directly on the person being recommended so make sure the letter is professionally presented and does not contain spelling or grammatical errors.

Character reference letter examples

Sample Character Reference Letter to adapt for your own use.


Character Job Reference Letter


Sample Character Reference Letters

How do you write a personal reference for someone?

You can use these excellent sample reference letters.

Personal Character Reference

Sample Character Job Reference

Sample Reference Letter

Use this Employment Reference Letter Template to format the job reference.

Character references for a friend and a student

Easy-to-adapt character reference letters.

Character reference for a friend

Character reference for a student

Adjectives for your character reference letter

Top 10 adjectives for a letter of recommendation plus examples of how to use them in your letter.

Core competencies and strengths

The list of 12 Core Competencies required for success across most career fields will help with writing a relevant character reference.

List of Strengths

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