Hopefully I'm not asking too late on a Friday evening!
I've been asked to provide a character reference for someone who is moving to Australia. I'm happy to do so, and happy to back up what I'll be saying if I'm contacted by potential employers. I've been looking online for samples or templates I can use, however all of them seem to be aimed at writing references for as specific job or purpose. This girl will need the character reference for employment/accomodation/emigration purposes etc, a kind of catch all.
I was going to go along the lines of:
Dear Sirs/To whom it may concern,
I have known Mary for more than 10 years, as a neighbour and close family friend. During that time, I have seen Mary graduate from school, attend college, achieve her qualifications and return to work in her hometown. I have found Mary to be a bright, enthusiastic and obliging person, known for her work ethic and reliability. I would have no hesitation in recommending Mary for any position or situation while she is in Australia and wish her the very best of luck.
If you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate in contacting me.
Would appreciate any advice or thoughts =)
Request information about the person who asked you to write a character reference. You may know a lot about his activities outside of work, including any organizations he is a part of or hobbies he participates in, but make sure to have a copy of his resume as well. Knowing all of this will give you a well-rounded picture and may give you insight into talents and skills you didn't know he had.
Request information about the job. Knowing the roles and responsibilities of a position will allow you to elaborate on how your candidate's traits will help fit with prospective employers' needs.
Address your letter as personally as possible. While there's nothing wrong with starting a letter with "To Whom it May Concern," a personalized greeting makes a more powerful impression, as does the appearance of your letter. Make sure it's typed and proofread.
Identify your relationship with the person you are recommending. Specify how long you have known her and in what capacity, as well as how that relationship qualifies you to write a character reference on her behalf. Explain what you think qualifies her for this particular position and why you are willing to recommend her, backing up your words with specific examples.
Be detailed in your description of the job candidate's positive attributes, choosing your words carefully. Speaking of the applicant in too many glowing terms may make a potential employer wary of the legitimacy of your recommendation, while using weak adjectives like "nice," "good" and "satisfactory" don't convey a sense of confidence in your candidate.
Highlight a variety of traits deemed important to employers. These include, but are not limited to, the candidate's ability to communicate, his self-confidence, interpersonal skills, flexibility and leadership.
Close the letter by offering to provide further information if necessary and providing a way to get in touch with you.