How to Write A Referral Letter (With Sample And Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022 | Published 1 November 2021

Updated 7 October 2022

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Over the course of your professional career, friends and colleagues may reach out to you to write a referral letter as a testament to their work, skills and abilities. This letter may have a professional, academic or personal outlook. It requires you to draft a well-written letter of recommendation to support the employer's decision. In this article, we explain how to write a referral letter, learn the key elements to include and review an example.

Related: How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation (With Examples)

How To Write A Referral Letter

By learning how to write a referral letter, you can support your friends and colleagues in their career growth. A referral letter, also called a letter of recommendation, is a positive endorsement of a person's skills and abilities related to the role they are applying for. If you are in the position to draft a referral letter, here are some guidelines to get started:

1. Start with a salutation

Start your letter with a greeting, such as Dear Sir/Madam last name or Dear Hiring Director. If you are writing a general letter, you may write To whom it may concern. Salutations help to define a tone that is considered appropriate by the recipient, depending on how familiar you are with them and whether it is a printed letter or an email.

2. Explain your relationship with the candidate

Use the first paragraph of your referral letter to explain your connection to the candidate, including how you know them and how long you have been in contact. Establish your role and explain why you are qualified to write the letter of recommendation. For example, if you are a manager who supervised the referee for five years, include that information.

3. Include information on the person you're writing about

The subsequent paragraphs of the referral letter contain information about the person you are writing on, their qualification, skills and positive qualities they offer. It is preferable to include precise details that correspond to the role for which they are applying. For example, if the person is applying for a job in graphic design, focus on their design style and interpersonal skills with specific anecdotes.

4. Reiterate your referral

In the closing paragraph, you can propose additional information. It is worth summarising to reinforce that you strongly recommend the person. State your availability to discuss further if the employer needs more information about the referee.

5. Finish with a signature

Close the letter politely with a sign-off. This includes your signature, followed by your name and title. You may provide your contact information too if you want to allow the employer to call or otherwise message you for more information.

What To Include In A Referral Letter

A referral letter must include thoughtful and factual information about an individual's accomplishments and qualifications. Here are some key elements to review:

Your relation to the referee

It is important to mention how you relate to the candidate. Whether you know them from work or have collaborated with them on a project, the referral letter requires you to be specific and factual. Remember to keep it as professional as any other business letter.

Their work and specific skills

Indicate your understanding of the role and abilities within that line of work. It is helpful to include tangible anecdotes and achievements that illustrate your support. If they have shown exceptional leadership skills or extraordinary competence in a project, mention it.

How they differ from other candidates

Instead of generalities, you can state how the person you are referring is different from other candidates. Be sincere in expressing your views that align the referee's skills with the position for which they are applying. Potential employers have a higher likelihood of seeing due praise as sincere and unbiased.

Types Of Referral Letters

There are three types of referral letters. Here is an overview of each:

Professional referral letter

Typically, job candidates reach out to their supervisors, clients, professors or colleagues who are aware of their accomplishments in a work environment to write career references. Professional referral letters include a description of the referee's job responsibilities, job performance, qualifications, employment history and accomplishments. Most employers ask job candidates for career references, which act as a major advantage in getting hired. Such letters coming from supervisors or previous employers are of high importance, as these are the individuals who usually have more knowledge about the candidate's work experience.

Related: Personal Vs. Professional References: What's The Difference?

Character referral letter

A character referral letter explains how the author knows the referee personally. Usually, a personal association, friend, educator or mentor writes such letters. This type of letter discusses the personal traits of the referee and is ideal for entry-level jobs because the focus is usually more on the attributes of a person rather than their work history. The author must avoid being biased while writing a character referral letter.

Related: Character Reference Letter Sample And Tips

Academic referral letter

An academic reference letter is important for many students and young professionals because it discusses their educational background and academic and extracurricular achievements. A professor, teacher, coach or advisor writes this letter. Other recommenders may include employers or community leaders.

Related: How to Write An Academic Recommendation Letter: Examples And Tips

Tips To Write An Effective Referral Letter

Here are some tips to help you write an effective referral letter:

Request information

Before writing the referral letter, make sure you have all the necessary information and records of the referee's achievements. It is also important to be sensitive to the deadline for submitting the letter. Some information to ask from the referee includes:

  • The referee's resume

  • List of their academic and professional achievements

  • List of their extracurricular and volunteer achievements, if any

  • The deadline by which you must submit the letter

Go through the job posting

Go through the job listing to get a sense of the qualities the employer might be seeking. Target the recommendation by highlighting the referee's traits and skills that match the responsibilities of the position. Focus on the circumstances or challenges in which they showed these qualities. For example, if the recommendation is for a marketing executive, you can write something specific like: A natural in the marketing team, Aman's presentation skills and ideas helped us with better visibility and 5x higher engagement rates in our #yournamematters social media campaign.

Use business letter format

Use a business letter format if you are sending the letter by email. This includes the name of the employer, your name, contact information, subject line and purpose of the letter. Choose professional fonts such as Garamond, Arial or Roboto with proper font size and formatting. It is also important to pay attention to the spacing to make sure the letter is scannable so that the reader can differentiate the paragraphs.

Related: Business Letter Format And Example

Template For Referral Letter

Here is a template to help you write a referral letter:

Dear [recipient name],

It is with great pleasure that I recommend [referee name] to work as a [insert job title] with [potential company title].

I am [reference name] and I have worked at [insert name of your company] as [your title] for [duration of time]. I have collaborated with [referee name] at [insert company name] for [duration of time]. I found [insert pronoun] to be a great [attribute or soft skill of the candidate which resulted in [accomplishment of the candidate].

In addition to that, [referee name] has exceptional [another characteristic of the referee], which helped [description of how candidate helped the company]. [Referee name] has proven on a number of occasions where we could trust [insert pronoun] to complete a project on time and within budget.

With that said, I am confident in my recommendation for [referee's name] to join your team at [company title]. Do feel free to contact me at 111-222-3333 if you want to discuss [referee name]'s qualifications and experience further. I would be happy to expand on my recommendation.


[Your name and title]

Example Of A Referral Letter

Rohan Sharma

Akash Singh
Director of Human Resources
Shine Marketing & PR
123 Business Street

Dear Akash,

It is my pleasure to offer my unreserved recommendation for Riya Singh for the position of marketing assistant at Shine Marketing & PR.

Riya has worked under my supervision at MK Marketing for a period of three years, ending in November 2019. During this period, I had the pleasure of seeing her progress from a marketing trainee into a professional development marketing specialist. She is a hard-working professional who understands the project requirements and is effective in seeing these aims through and meeting tight deadlines.

I was particularly impressed by her ability to assist in supporting the outreach and growth of the marketing team, as well as expanding the brand visibility with new partnerships.

She was also adept at identifying media outlets and achieving press coverage for our new product offering. I recommend Riya for the role of a marketing assistant that can draw upon her skills and her proven business acumen in marketing.

Call me if you have any questions about Riya's abilities or work experience. I am happy to further discuss why I think she makes a good fit for this company.


Rohan, Director of Digital Marketing


  • What Is a Reference Letter? (With Tips and Example)

  • What Are References? (Types, Benefits And Examples)

  • How To Develop An Employee Referral Program (With Tips)

  • How To Put References on a Resume (With Template & Examples)

  • How To Include A Referral In Your Cover Letter In 5 Steps

  • How To Ask For A Referral For A Job (With Examples And Tips)

Explore more articles