How To Write a Recommendation Letter for a Friend

By Indeed Editorial Team

August 4, 2021

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach.

Employers may request applicants to submit letters of recommendation to better assess their character, skills and potential as a new employee in their company. One type of recommendation is a character reference, or, a document that attests to a candidate’s personal qualities and strength in character.

A variety of acquaintances, including personal friends, can provide this type of reference. If a friend asks you for a personal reference, consider writing a letter that clearly outlines their work ethic, positive character traits and attitude to make your recommendation as effective as possible. In this article, we discuss how to write a recommendation letter for a friend and provide an example to help you begin.

Character Reference Letter Format

Image description

Character Reference Letter Format

  1. The relationship of the reference to the candidate

  2. How long the reference has known the candidate

  3. Positive personal qualities, including specific examples

  4. A statement of recommendation

  5. The reference's contact information

What is a letter of recommendation for a friend?

A letter of recommendation for a friend, also called a personal reference or a character reference, summarizes your personal experience with the characteristics and skills that qualify them for the position. Personal reference letters are common additions to applications for candidates who are seeking their first jobs. 

You might provide a character reference if you have one or more of these relationships with the candidate:

  • Long-time neighbor

  • Close family friend

  • Fellow volunteer

  • Fellow member of a club or organization

  • Current or former classmate or peer

  • Client or business contact

  • Coach or mentor

Related: *Character Reference Letter Sample and Tips

How to write a reference letter for a friend

An effective character reference can influence the hiring decision in your friend’s favor. Here are seven steps to consider when writing a personal recommendation for a friend:

1. Accept if you can provide a quality reference

Before accepting a friend’s request to write them a letter, consider your relationship and the quality of recommendation you can provide. Advisors, mentors and friends with knowledge of the candidate’s professional accomplishments and personal characteristics tend to provide the strongest character references.

It is important to understand whether your friend is seeking a character reference or a professional recommendation. If they need a professional recommendation, it is best to politely suggest they find someone who can attest to their professional skills, accomplishments and work ethic (such as a colleague or former supervisor). If they are truly in need of a character reference, it is perfectly acceptable to provide one for them if you feel you can write a genuine and enthusiastic letter with specific reasons your friend is the best candidate for the job.

2. Request details about the job opening

Ask to see the job listing, and discuss the position’s responsibilities as well as what technical skills and personal attributes are essential for the job. Discover whether the role requires independent initiative or relies on teamwork to complete tasks. This element can help you describe your friend’s abilities to work independently or as a teammate. You can also conduct your own research of the company to learn more about their mission and history to better understand how your friend can contribute to the company’s culture.

3. Ask your friend about goals and objectives

Before writing your personal recommendation, talk with your friend about their career path and professional goals. Inquire about your friend’s professional plans over the next 5 or 10 years, and ask what they would like to accomplish over the course of their career. Find out how this new position would help your friend achieve those objectives. For example, ask whether there is a strong potential for internal advancement and if they’re interested in growing with this company. Use this knowledge of your friend’s career goals and your personal insight into their qualifications to frame your recommendation letter.

Read more: Interview Question: “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”

4. Discuss the background of your relationship

At the beginning of your recommendation letter, make your relationship with the candidate clear. Briefly mention how long you’ve known each other, how you met and the settings in which your relationship developed. This information can help the hiring team better understand your personal qualifications to speak on your friend’s behalf. 

Your reference can provide an employer with a specific perspective of your friend’s capabilities and personality. For example, having met as coworkers can showcase your friend’s abilities to bond with teammates. Being long-time family friends can indicate that you’ve seen how your friend has grown and continues to grow as a person.

5. Mention examples of skills and qualifications

In the body of your letter, discuss the skills and attributes mentioned in your friend’s resume using personal anecdotes that clearly demonstrate those qualifications. Describe the situation by mentioning the event or setting, and identify the role your friend served. You can then highlight the skills and qualities your friend put into action by outlining the goal and what steps your friend took to achieve it. Be sure to include the results of these actions that showcase their success or development. 

This example can complement the workplace scenarios your friend details in their resume, cover letter and interview answers.

6. Focus on improvement and progress

Structure your reference letter around your friend’s progress to convey constant improvement. You can frame this discussion by mentioning the level where your friend started when you first met. Then, explain the various steps your friend took to improve skills and gain experience over the course of your relationship. For example, you can discuss the degrees and certifications your friend earned or the volunteer positions they accepted to bolster their personal development.

7. Include your contact information

After the body of your letter, conclude your recommendation by stating your availability to discuss your friend’s qualifications further. You can provide the best phone number where you can be reached in addition to your email address. This step gives the recipient an opportunity to ask you questions about the candidate.

Tips for writing an effective letter of recommendation

As you write your character reference, you should also consider the following points to ensure your recommendation is as effective as possible:

Recommendation Letter Format

Image description

Recommendation Letter Format

  1. Introduction and statement of recommendation

  2. List of specific reasons you are recommending them to the position

  3. Personal story with evidence of their qualities (soft and hard skills)

  4. Closing statement with contact information

  5. Signature

Address the letter appropriately

Before you write your recommendation, ask your friend to who the letter should be addressed. If they don’t have a specific name, consider addressing it to the company’s hiring department, or use “To Whom It May Concern.” In addition to personalizing your letter, a proper address ensures your message reaches the correct person.

Keep it brief

A quality letter of recommendation typically only has two or three short paragraphs. Aim for simple, concise sentences to ensure the recipient can easily and quickly read your message.

Follow submission requirements

Ask your friend how the letter should be submitted. You may be asked to email or mail the letter directly to the hiring team. In some cases, you may have to place the letter in a sealed envelope for your friend to submit the letter in person.

Read more: How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Examples)

Example character reference letter for a friend

An example letter can demonstrate how to best structure your personal reference. Use this sample personal recommendation letter to get started:

Hannah Lee
1573 Strauss Blvd. | New York, NY 11101 | hannah.lee@email.com

July 1, 2019

Pat Smith
ABC, Inc.
5437 Seventh Ave.
New York, NY 11101

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing in reference to Armando Harmon. We have been neighbors for the past three years, and I have always known him to be an ambitious and highly motivated person. I believe that his self-starting tendencies and strong vision make him an ideal candidate for the Account Coordinator position at ABC, Inc.

When I met Armando, he had just graduated from New York University and was planning to pursue a Master of Business Administration. We initially connected at a community event, and I could immediately see that he is a driven individual with substantial potential. Over the years, we have volunteered for several neighborhood initiatives, which gave me the opportunity to see his leadership and teamwork skills firsthand. He recently led a community fundraiser, which involved coordinating a project plan, managing a team of 10 people and generating record-breaking contributions.

In the past three years, Armando has also obtained his MBA, completed a professional certification and earned a year of work experience at Lawson Financial. During his time at Lawson, he has progressed from an intern to a junior associate role. His business acumen, strong self-motivation and leadership capabilities make him highly qualified for the Account Coordinator role at ABC, Inc. Given his experience, qualifications and constant improvement, I believe he will be a top performer at your company.

Please let me know if you have any further questions about Armando’s qualifications as I would be glad to provide more insight. I can be reached by phone at 432-216-9946 or email at hannah.lee@email.com.

Best regards,
Hannah Lee

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