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Personal Letters of Recommendation

Information, tips & examples of personal character reference letters for all occasions

Character reference letters is really a catch-all term for letters of recommendation that are not related to the most common applications: job searches and school admission.

There are a vast number of different types of character reference letters, these include:

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  • Child Custody
  • Apartment / Rental / Coop
  • Loan Approval
  • Award Nomination
  • Join Club / Organization
  • Join Sorority / Fraternity
  • Recognize or Document Contribution / Volunteerism
  • Enlist in Armed Services
While different examples of miscellaneous character reference letters abound, resources for writing personal character reference letters do not. Most of the information you will find on writing reference letters - particularly the information you will find on the web - pertains specifically to job searches and school admission, the most common types.

While some sources may provide a few generic tips that are helpful, most deal with the particulars of employment strategies, teacher / student relationships, and the like. The following list of letter-writing tips summarizes most of what you will find, once you boil it all down:

Credential Yourself
Your personal character reference letters must establish three things before it will carry any weight:

  • You are in a position to know the candidate well.
    Explain the nature and duration of your relationship with the candidate.
  • You are qualified to make an accurate assessment.
    The qualifications that are most relevant change from one situation to the next. For example, if you are recommending someone as the parent of an adoptive child, then you should make it clear that you understand what it takes to raise a child. In this case, your own experience as a parent is very relevant; it qualifies you as an expert. If, however, you are writing personal character reference letters that the candidate will use to try to make parole, then your parenting skills are of little relevance.
  • You are the kind of person whose opinion can be trusted and respected.
    You don't have to be a captain of industry to provide an opinion that people can respect. However, impressive education credentials and a high social standing do count - so if there is something about you that is particularly imposing, then you should mention it.
Be Specific
General recommendations and overall evaluations carry little weight. The reader wants to know what it is specifically that makes the candidate worth recommending. Mention two to four key traits.

Be Customer Focused
Always concentrate on the things that will be of the most interest to the reader first and foremost. Your candidate may have a wonderful sense of humor, but if the reader isn't looking for that, then write about something else.

Provide Evidence Don't just say your candidate is intelligent; give proof. What did he do that demonstrated intelligence to you? Is your candidate honest? Give an example in his personal character reference letters of when that honesty was tested and came shining through.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Writing a Powerful Letter of Recommendation

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