How To Write an Accountant Reference Letter (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published March 25, 2022
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.
A reference letter is one way for an industry professional to support a candidate as they search for a new position or role. Within the accounting field, a reference letter can help an individual obtain a relevant new role by offering an in-depth explanation of their qualifications. Understanding how to write a successful letter of reference can prepare you to support other members of your field. In this article, we describe how to write an accountant reference letter and provide tips to help you prepare your own.
What is an accountant reference letter?
An accountant reference letter is a document that describes the professional or personal qualifications of an individual within the accounting field. Often written by a former colleague, employer or personal connection, a reference letter can demonstrate an individual's relevant skills and experiences. It can help an individual present themselves in a positive light for jobs, internships, graduate school applications or other opportunities.
While a reference letter is very similar to a letter of recommendation, the difference is that a reference letter is a more general statement of an individual's qualifications, while a letter of recommendation often applies to a specific position or role. In this way, a letter of reference may not mention specific details about a specific position for which they're applying. Instead, a candidate might use a reference letter for many job applications. Before you write a letter for an individual, you may want to ask which type they require to understand best writing practices.
Read more: Reference Letters vs. Recommendation Letters
Why is an accountant reference letter important?
An accountant reference letter is important because it can describe an accounting professional's qualifications in greater detail, thus demonstrating their competency. By using personal details and information about the individual, you can create a more vivid picture of their professional identity than with a resume alone. Additionally, detailing your role within the accounting industry can confirm a candidate's skills and experiences. For example, if you mentored an individual in an accounting position, your assessment of their ability to quickly learn new skills within the field may be highly valuable to an employer.
How to write an accountant reference letter
Here are eight steps you can take to write an effective reference letter:
1. Request information
Before you begin writing a reference letter for an accounting professional, consider asking them for details about the letter's purpose. You can ask them if the letter is for a specific role or opportunity, or if it's intended as a general reference. If it's for a specific role, you can ask when the application deadline is or which skills the person would like to highlight. For example, an accounting professional may be searching for a role that prioritizes collaborative work. In this case, you can focus on instances in which they demonstrated teamwork abilities.
When you request information, you may also ask for the candidate's resume to get a deeper understanding of their work outside your relationship. While you may not mention any positions or experiences outside of your knowledge, this can help you better understand the types of roles the candidate takes and what they would like to achieve. This can help you create a more detailed picture of their overall identity as an accountant.
2. Greet the recipient
Before beginning the letter, consider greeting the letter's recipient with an appropriate title to establish a professional and respectful tone. You can use the salutation "dear" followed by the recipient's title and name. The subject of the letter can provide you with this information, including the recipient's proper title. If the subject doesn't know the name of the recipient, consider using a standard greeting like "to whom it may concern."
3. Define your relationship to the subject
In the introduction, consider defining your relationship to the subject. If you were their manager in a previous accounting role, for example, you can describe their position, your role and the name of the company. This can help establish your credibility and provide immediate context for the content of the letter.
If you're acting as a personal reference, you can describe your relationship to the subject and provide a brief context for the nature of the relationship. If you're acting as a professional reference from a role outside of the accounting industry, consider briefly describing the industry and showing how it connects to accounting. For example, you can mention that a candidate volunteered at your organization before beginning their first accounting role.
4. Describe their relevant skills and personality traits
As you transition into the body paragraphs of the letter, consider describing the skills and personality traits you believe the candidate possesses based on previous encounters. Keep this section positive and mention the most relevant skills. In many cases, accountants can benefit from a professional profile that describes them as dependable, hard-working, detailed and analytical. You can also include any other traits and skills that help a candidate stand out. For example, you can describe the selfless nature of a candidate who volunteered to complete accounting work for a nonprofit organization.
Related: 6 Essential Accounting Skills
5. Use examples
If possible, consider describing specific examples of a candidate's qualifications. For example, they may have completed an influential project, enhanced work quality or improved work conditions within the company. You can connect these examples back to the candidate's skills or specifics about the role or field. For example, you can use an example of a candidate leading an accounting project to promote their time management skills in the hopes of pursuing a managerial role.
6. Create a meaningful conclusion
At the end of your letter, consider concluding with a clear statement of the candidate's qualifications. This can connect directly back to the purpose of the letter. For example, you can conclude with a line like this:
For these reasons, I recommend this candidate for a leadership position within your organization.
This can end the letter positively and clearly state your evaluation of the candidate's qualification.
7. Sign the letter
At the end of your letter, consider signing using a professional farewell like "sincerely." You can also include a statement about your availability for additional questions. Then you can include your name and contact information, such as your email address or phone number. This can help a hiring manager or other recipient contact you with any additional questions or requests. It can also make your letter appear polished and professional, which can create a positive impression.
8. Proofread and send your letter
Before you send your letter, consider proofreading it. You can read it out loud or use grammar editing software to identify and address errors. This can help present your argument in a positive and professional manner. Once you're satisfied with the content, formatting and grammar of the letter, you can sign it and send it to the candidate's desired location.
Accountant reference letter template
Here's a reference letter template to help you prepare a successful letter:
I have known [candidate] for [number] years. They were [position] at my [organization]. Their role within the organization involved [specifics about the role]. I believe that this would make them an ideal candidate for [type of accounting role].
[Candidate] is [relevant personality traits]. They're also skilled in [relevant skills]. In my experience, [candidate] has demonstrated these skills by [examples of specific projects, accomplishments or qualifications].
I know that [candidate] can be a valuable addition to your [company, organization or field].
Please contact me with any additional questions.
[Your phone number]
[Your email address]/p>
Accountant reference letter example
Here's an example reference letter for an accounting candidate who requires a general statement of their competency as they search for a role after graduating:
Dear Ms. Johnson,
John Mans was a student in my introductory and upper-level accounting courses at Don Hampten University. He also served as my teaching assistant for several semesters. I believe that his accounting skills, problem-solving abilities and dedication can make him a valuable candidate within the accounting field.
John is a driven, intelligent student with positive study habits and an ability to motivate those around him. He earned an "A" in all of my classes and consistently submitted high-quality papers and projects. As a teaching assistant, he was diligent, focused and positive in all interactions. He developed a scoring rubric that helped reduce grading time and increased the accuracy of commentary. I still use this rubric in my classes.
Based on my experiences, John would be a positive addition to any organization and is likely to succeed in any role he chooses to pursue.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out.
Dr. Sarah Franklin
Tips for writing an accountant reference letter
Here are some tips you can use to write your reference letter:
If possible, consider using specifics to create a compelling narrative about a candidate's qualifications. One benefit of a reference letter is that it can provide more context than a resume or cover letter. You can use that opportunity to discuss specific projects, ideas or concepts that a candidate might not include on their resume. For example, you can describe a candidate's ability to overcome adversity or quickly learn new skills in a challenging position.
Keep the letter concise
Consider keeping a reference letter to a few brief paragraphs. This can make it more manageable for hiring managers to read, since they may receive many applications. Some ways to minimize the length of a letter without limiting important content include using a template to make sure you only include relevant information. You can also reread the letter after writing it and revising it to reduce the length.
While it's helpful to be positive in a reference letter and discuss a candidate's most impressive qualifications, it's also important to remain honest about their abilities. This can help the recipient clearly understand the candidate's qualifications and also demonstrate that you're a reliable reference. Some ways to show honesty within an accountant reference letter include using specific examples or data to support the claims you make.
Include personal details
Since a reference letter can demonstrate a candidate's qualification by connecting them to an industry professional who understands their qualifications, you can use personal details to create a complete profile of the candidate. You can include your opinion of the candidate or details about how they affected you or the organization. For example, you might write that a candidate was your favorite student or that they created a meaningful impact on the company's culture.
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