Sample Personal Employment Reference Letters

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When you are applying for jobs, most employers will request references at some point during the hiring process. When you are deciding who to use as a reference, your choices will fall into two categories:

Why Have Personal References

While it’s a good idea to have references from people who have worked with you - supervisors, colleagues, and staff - it can be helpful to have some personal references as well.

This is particularly true for recent grads, who may not have a lot of paid work experience in their field, but who probably have professors or casual employers who can speak to their qualifications as an employee.

More experienced workers changing careers may also want to include a personal reference who can recommend them based on familiarity with a different set of skills.

Who and When to Ask 

It’s a good idea to think about your references at the start of your job search. You should ask ahead of time if they would be willing to be a reference during your upcoming search. Give yourself and the person plenty of time, so that if they don’t feel comfortable or have the time to endorse your candidacy, you can ask someone else.

People who you have known through casual employment, such as babysitting, lawn care, pet sitting and odd jobs can make excellent personal employment references. Teachers, professors, advisors, and mentors are often willing to provide references, and can speak knowledgeably about your skills.

Internship supervisors are also excellent reference choices.

Here's advice on the best people to ask for a reference.

When to Share Your References With Employers

Unless specifically mentioned in the job posting, wait until you are asked to provide references to your potential employer. Make absolutely sure that you have their explicit permission before giving someone’s name as a reference.

It’s a good idea to let your references know when you begin a job search, and let them know something about the types of positions you are interested in as well, so that their letter will include information that will enhance your candidacy.

Sample Personal Employment Reference Letters

Example #1

To Whom it May Concern,

As a nanny to my eight-year-old twins for the past three years, Heather Pleat has proven herself to be a remarkably responsible, confident young woman.

I am amazed at the ease with which Heather can fulfill a variety of tasks. She has worked for me not only as a nanny, but also a tutor to my children and a housekeeper. She even finds time to volunteer at a local daycare for single mothers. Not once have I seen Heather become overwhelmed by a given task or assignment.

I am confident that Heather’s intelligence and maturity will be great assets in any organization. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.


Janet Monroe
(555) 555-5555

Example #2

Dear Hiring Manager,

I have been acquainted with Dillon Smith for the past four years in my capacity as faculty advisor to the Spanish Club at Anytown High School. Dillon has shown himself to be a leader, serving as club president as a senior, and as treasurer during his junior year.

During the time that I have known Dillon, I have witnessed his ability to lead the group in many fundraising events and field experiences. His organizational skills made it possible for the group to finance a trip to Mexico during winter break, where the students were able to experience first hand the excitement of delving into another culture.

I believe that this young man has the skills and maturity to excel in your organization. If I can answer any further questions, please contact me.


Colin Jones

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