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Careers advice > Personal reference – sample personal and character reference

Personal reference – sample personal and character reference

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When you’re asked to give a new employer your reference details then you will usually have to give them one or two work references and a personal reference, or character reference as it’s otherwise known.

This can be anyone except for a direct family member who can vouch for you as a person… We explain.




Who should I ask?

Personal references are very different from work references. They are usually more detailed and talk about you as a person, explaining that you are a good character.

That’s not to say that you're the best person to party like an animal with at the weekend! Choose your referee carefully as your personal reference needs to be professional. It’s best to ask an old colleague or someone you went to school with who knows your work and can talk honestly about how competent you are. It’s always a good idea to ask them before you give their details to your new boss so they’re prepared!


What should they write?

You don’t want to bore your new boss with a massive reference talking about how AMAZING you are as it won’t sound believable and could be off-putting. Instead, they need to include a few lines about what you’re like to work with, using examples if possible.

We’ve done the hard work for you! Send this to your personal reference as a guide...

Character reference template


What if they give me a bad reference?

As with a work reference, if your personal reference gives you a bad write-up and they can’t justify why they wrote what they wrote then you may have a case for legal action if it then loses you the job.

It should be said that this is HIGHLY UNLIKELY as you can pretty-much choose who you want to give you a reference!

Bad reference FAQ


Related articles:

Reference templates...

What to write?

Want to make sure your personal reference is well written and professional?

Send your referee our easy-to-follow reference template!

Character reference template

Bad reference = job offer withdrawn?

Change mind

Can a bad reference mean your new employer can change their mind?

We take a look at job offers and where you stand!

Job offers - what they mean

Is your reference illegal?

Career change

Have you lost a job because of a bad reference and believe it was due to discrimination?

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Ageism discrimination guide

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