Sometimes finding a new role really is a question of character…
Character references are great ways for employers to check whether a candidate is a good fit for their organisation, by giving them valuable information about their personality and ethics. But if you’re asked to provide one, what exactly should it include?
We’ve already covered how to get a reference, but here are a few things you need to know about writing a character reference for someone – plus a template to help you get started:
Character reference template
What is a character reference?
A character reference (or personal reference) is a brief assessment of a person provided by someone who knows them outside of work.
Instead of talking about your practical skills and abilities in the workplace (as an employer reference would), a character reference uses real-life examples to attest to your personality, behaviour and general ethics.
Who writes a character reference?
Character references can be provided by teachers, lecturers, group/club leaders, mentors, neighbours or family friends.
They should know the person well, be able to speak highly of them and have up-to-date knowledge of their personality and abilities.
Can a family member write a character reference?
A character reference shouldn’t be written by an immediate relative (such as a parent or sibling), or extended family member, as their opinions may be biased.
Close friends also shouldn’t be asked, for the same reason.
When would I need to give a character reference?
Character references are required in many situations, including:
- As part of a job application process (particularly if the applicant doesn’t have any work experience and/or the role requires a high level of trustworthiness)
- As part of a school, college, or university application process
- As part of an application for a certificate or professional membership
You could be asked to complete a character reference if anyone you’re close to is in the process of any of the above – and your views will help the employer or institution decide whether this person is a good fit.
What should I include in a character reference?
Firstly, if you’re asked to do a character reference, make sure you’re able to speak positively about the person in question.
Here are a few things you should include:
- Your relationship with the candidate
- How long you’ve known them
- Information and examples of their personality and work ethic
- Your contact details
How do I get a professional reference?
If you’re looking for information on obtaining a reference from one of your previous roles, try reading our in-depth guide on how to get a reference.
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