Reference Letter: Sample, How to Write & UK Template

The right job just came along, and you’re in with a real chance. Applications close soon and the quicker you get yours in, the better. You’ve scrambled to get your CV up to task, you might even have got a cover letter together. Only thing is, they need a reference letter. Maybe more than one.

 

You’ve got someone lined up, but who knows how to write a reference letter these days? Maybe you’re that someone, maybe you’re the one who’s been asked to write a reference letter for a friend or an employee. Either way, you’re here, so you must be looking for a leg up, even if it’s not for you.

 

In this article, you’ll find a reference letter sample that you, your employer, or your friend can use as a ready-made template. Pair that with a step-by-step guide and UK-specific advice and you’ve got an interview-winning reference letter.

 

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Reference letter sample

 

Andrew Baker

Production Manager

ABC Company

36 Bury Rd

Manchester

M19 0AR

078 0196 7993

andrew.baker@lcmail.co.uk

 

17th February 2022

 

Michael Hanson

Human Resources Manager

ACME Inc.

21 Southend Avenue

London

E9 5BP

 

Dear Michael,

 

I was delighted to hear that Adam West is applying for the role of Production Manager at ACME Inc.

 

I have had the great pleasure of working with Adam for over two years. It was a sad day for us when he let us know of his impending relocation to London. He is my best production coordinator and I have often lamented the lack of advancement opportunities available to him at ABC Company. He has successfully performed many of the duties of a production manager and performed them exceptionally well.

 

Adam’s impeccable project management and lean manufacturing skills have allowed him to really go above and beyond his production coordinator role. Here are some of his more notable achievements:

 

  • Adam assisted me in implementing a Kanban inventory system, reducing late shipments due to stockouts by 12%.
  • He decreased our part inventories by 11% on average and decreased equipment SUs by 200 hours a year, saving $8,000+ per year.
  • He also took the initiative and acted to reduce our scrap to budget by $9,600.

 

Adam’s passion for production management and attention to detail have made him invaluable to my team. I have no doubt that these qualities will allow him to excel at ACME Inc. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to hire such a professional and capable production manager.

 

I would love to discuss Adam’s suitability in more detail. Can we schedule a call?

 

Yours Sincerely,



Andrew Baker

 

Now that you have something to aim for, it’s time for a step-by-step guide to writing a reference letter at least as good as the one above:

 

1. Start your reference letter with a properly set-out header and appropriate salutation

 

A reference letter is a formal business document, so it needs to follow the standard business letter format. This means you’ll need a properly set-out header and an appropriate salutation. Pay particular attention to alignment in the header. 

 

Align to the right your name, postal address, email, and phone number. Leave a line and add the date of writing, always in the fully spelled-out form (e.g. ‘4th February 2022’). Leave another line. Now align to the left the hiring manager’s or recruiter’s name, their job title, the company name, and the company’s postal address.

 

Now for the letter salutation. It’s tempting to go with ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Dear Sir / Madame’. There are two major problems with this approach: these salutations are outdated and completely impersonal. You’ll want to avoid both of these if you want this reference letter to be effective.

 

Instead, go with ‘Dear + Mr/Ms + Surname’ or ‘Dear + First Name’. If you’re on equal footing with or higher up in the corporate hierarchy than your reader, it’s best to go with the more collegial ‘Dear Jane’. Otherwise, or if you have any doubts, go with the more formal ‘Dear Ms Smith’. 

 

Don’t know their name? Ask the applicant for a name if they haven’t given you one. They can check the job advert, the company’s website, Microsoft’s LinkedIn, and their favourite search engines. If all else fails, they should call up the company and ask. Worst case, ask them for the hiring manager’s job title and use ‘Dear + Job Title’.

 

Reference letter samples: header and salutation

 

Andrew Baker

Production Manager

ABC Company

36 Bury Rd

Manchester

M19 0AR

078 0196 7993

andrew.baker@lcmail.co.uk

 

17th February 2022

 

Michael Hanson

Human Resources Manager

ACME Inc.

21 Southend Avenue

London

E9 5BP

 

Dear Michael,

 

2. State the name of the applicant and the position for which they’re applying

 

When you open a letter, your first question is naturally ‘what’s this?’. So make sure the very first words of your reference letter answer that question, quickly and clearly. But, don’t just flatly state your purpose for writing. Instead, keep it positive and enthusiastic: start ‘selling’ the applicant in earnest.

 

Be sure to mention the applicant’s full name, the job for which they’re applying, and the full name of the company to which they’re applying.

 

Example letter of reference opening paragraph

 

I was delighted to hear that Adam West is applying for the role of Production Manager at ACME Inc.

 

3. Describe how you know the applicant in your letter of reference

 

You’ve answered the ‘what am I reading?’ question, now it’s time for ‘who is this referee?’ and ‘are they in a position to know something relevant about the applicant?’. So let the hiring manager know how you know the applicant. A reference letter from an employer is different from one written by a friend.

 

At the same time, add a fact that speaks to how highly you think of the applicant. Combine this positive opinion with some facts that show how you’re in a position to have formed such an opinion. Mention how long you’ve known the applicant. Be positive, but keep it realistic. Don’t add anything you can’t defend.

 

Reference letter sample second paragraph

 

I have had the great pleasure of working with Adam for over two years. It was a sad day for us when he let us know of his impending relocation to London. He is my best production coordinator and I have often lamented the lack of advancement opportunities available to him at ABC Company. He has successfully performed many of the duties of a production manager and performed them exceptionally well.

 

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4. Use the main part of the reference letter to show how the applicant meets the requirements of the job

 

This part is the driving force behind your reference letter. It’s where you can provide key facts about the applicant that just happen to match the job requirements. If you’re busy—and you probably are—ask the applicant to provide you with two or three achievements that match key requirements.

 

An achievement is a quantified description of how the applicant has helped you in the past. In a professional reference letter, this means the value they brought to your company by performing their duties. The PAR formula can be used to structure each achievement. The more concrete numbers, the better.

 

You can break this part down into up to three short paragraphs and/or use bullet points. The idea is to avoid a huge chunk of text that discourages the reader from pushing through. Use the layout to make each achievement clear, quick, and easy to read. Not only to read, but also to return to later.

 

Mention the applicant’s relevant skills. If you can, add a fact that points to the applicant’s passion for the work and enthusiasm for the company to which they’re applying. Ask the applicant why they’ve chosen this particular company—they might be able to offer something up here.

 

Reference letter example main body paragraph

 

Adam’s impeccable project management and lean manufacturing skills have allowed him to really go above and beyond his production coordinator role. Here are some of his more notable achievements:

 

  • Adam assisted me in implementing a Kanban inventory system, reducing late shipments due to stockouts by 12%.
  • He decreased our part inventories by 11% on average and decreased equipment SUs by 200 hours a year, saving $8,000+ per year.
  • He also took the initiative and acted to reduce our scrap to budget by $9,600.

 

Adam’s passion for production management and attention to detail have made him invaluable to my team. I have no doubt that these qualities will allow him to excel at ACME Inc. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to hire a professional and capable production manager.

 

5. Close your reference letter with an accommodating CTA and sign off properly

 

Show your commitment to seeing this reference through. End your reference letter with a call to action (CTA) in which you invite the hiring manager to get in touch. Sign off properly: use ‘Yours Sincerely’ if you addressed your reference letter to a named person and ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you used a job title.

 

Reference letter template: ending

 

I would love to discuss Adam’s suitability in more detail. Can we schedule a call?

 

Yours Sincerely,



Andrew Baker

 

6. Keep these things in mind before sending your reference letter

 

A reference letter that looks anything less than professional can do more harm than good. Keep to the standard business letter format. Proofread your reference letter at least twice. Never go over a one, single-sided A4 page: this is the perfect length for a reference letter for a job.

 

Use Standard Margins and Leave Plenty of White Space

 

Leave the margins of your employment reference letter at the default 2.5 cm / one inch on all four sides. Set the line spacing to 1.15, dropping it back to 1.00 if you’re running out of space. Double the spacing between paragraphs. The more white space in your reference letter, the easier it’ll be to read.

 

Choose a Professional-Looking Font

 

Go with an understated, easy-to-read CV font. Something like Noto, Garamond or Liberation. Even Arial or Calibri will do. Leave the font size at 11–12 points. Don’t make the font smaller if you’re running out of space. Instead, cut content from the reference letter until it fits on that single A4 page.

 

Save the Finished Letter in PDF

 

Save or export your reference letter in PDF. This will help to preserve the layout and formatting. PDF is also much more likely to display properly on a wide range of devices, as opposed to *.docx files.

 

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Do you feel you know how to write a reference letter now? Was our sample reference letter helpful? Got any unanswered questions for us or advice to share with your fellow readers? Leave your comments and feedback down below. We’ll be sure to get right back to you.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team

LiveCareer Editorial Team

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Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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