The end of a reference letter is perhaps the easiest part of the letter to write since you’re summing up the information that appeared in the body of the letter. Nevertheless, it’s important to get the language right if you are to make a good final impression on the reader. Every paragraph must shine in order to persuade the recipient that the person you’re recommending is worth hiring.
Focus on the Body of the Letter
The main part of your letter should describe the stellar skills and personality traits that make the person you’re recommending a good fit for the job. Many employers are looking for specific characteristics that fit the position, so ask yourself what the recipient needs to know. Is the employee a creative problem solver? Does he have a flair for organization or excellent teamwork skills? Is he mature beyond his years? Include all the reasons why this person is a qualified candidate, relating specific examples in which the person successfully used the skills required for the position.
Include a Closing Statement
Transition to the penultimate paragraph of your letter with a phrase such as "In summary," "In Closing," "Accordingly," or "Without a doubt." Then, write one or two sentences that make a clear statement of recommendation. The wording should flow logically from the points you made in the body of the letter; essentially, you’re summarizing what has come before. Here’s an example: "Without a doubt, I recommend [name] for [position]. As a hard-working employee and a great team player, I am confident that she will be a valuable addition to your organization."
Invite the Recipient to Contact You
Use the final paragraph to provide your contact details and invite the recipient to contact you if there are further questions. For example, you might write: "Please feel free to contact me at [telephone number] should you wish to discuss the matter further. I’d be happy to expand on my recommendation." By inviting such follow-up, you reassure the reader that you are willing to stand behind your recommendation. Write "sincerely," "cordially" or similar to conclude the letter, then sign and write your name.
Be Fair, Accurate and Appropriate
Reference letters are overwhelmingly positive, but they do not have to be. Qualify your recommendation if your experience of working with the employee has not been entirely positive. The reference you give should be fair, accurate and appropriate. Don’t mention anything that you do not know to be true. The recipient may challenge you on the things you have said, and you’ll have to justify yourself. Remember, your credibility is on the line.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a business writer. Her articles have appeared on numerous business sites including Typefinder, Women in Business, Startwire and Indeed.com.