Being asked to write a reference for a peer should not be taken lightly. The reference may be needed for a school application, job or some other type of recognition; your input could be the deciding factor for an opportunity to be offered. When completing the reference, you want to highlight your peer's relevant skills and professional attributes. Even if you have known the individual for a number of years and have developed a friendship, avoid getting into personal scenarios when writing the reference. You should also include in the letter who you are and your connection to the person you are writing the reference for.
Begin with a proper salutation. When writing a reference letter, include a salutation if you know the name of the recipient. If you do not know the name of the recipient, you can use “To Whom It May Concern.”
Introduce yourself in the first few lines of your letter. The recipient does not need a short autobiography; just write a few sentences detailing your position and your relationship to the candidate.
Confirm any facts you know the candidate will be supplying in addition to your letter. For example, if the candidate completed volunteer hours or an internship with you, you can confirm that fact in your letter. One common piece of information that is included in a peer reference letter is job title and responsibilities.
Provide your view of the candidate’s qualifications and skills. It is appropriate to state that you enjoyed working with the candidate or that you would re-employ her. Highlight any exceptional qualities the candidate possesses, too..
Give concrete examples of times when the candidate impressed you. If the candidate consistently went above and beyond the call of duty or was extremely focused, include that. It is also appropriate to ask the candidate if there is anything in particular he would like highlighted in the reference letter.
Close the letter on a positive note. If you are open to receiving further correspondence about the candidate’s application or to having a follow-up conversation about your reference, include your contact information.
Close your letter. Be sure to close the letter appropriately. You can use “Yours sincerely,” if you are writing to a named recipient. You can use “Yours faithfully,” if you do not know the name of the recipient.
Avoid mentioning any weakness the candidate has. Proofread your letter to correct any spelling or grammatical errors.