The Problem: Having to write letters of recommendation for
people with very dubious qualifications can cause serious legal troubles
in a time when laws have eroded the confidentiality of business letters.
In most states, job applicants have the right to read the letters of
recommendation and can even file suit against the writer if the contents
The Solution: Here is an arsenal of statements that can be
read two ways. You are able to state a negative opinion of the
ex-employee's poor work habits, while allowing the ex-employee to believe
that it is high praise. When the writer uses these, whether perceived
correctly or not by the ex-employee, the phrases are virtually
To describe a person who is extremely lazy: "In my
opinion," you say as sincerely as you can manage, "you will be
very fortunate to get this person to work for you." To describe a
person who is totally inept: "I most enthusiastically recommend this
candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."
To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along
with fellow workers: "I am pleased to say that this candidate is a
former colleague of mine."
To describe a candidate who is so unproductive that the
job would be better left unfilled: "I can assure you that no person
would be better for the job."
To describe a job applicant who is not worth further
consideration: "I would urge you to waste no time in making this
candidate an offer of employment."
To describe a person with lackluster credentials:
"All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this candidate or
recommend him too highly."