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Should I write a letter of recommendation for an ex-employee or not?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by in stitches, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    yes. do tell.
    +1

    Some opinions mean more than others ... and inquiring minds want to know.
     
  2. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    why?

    For me, it boils down to two reasons:

    1) My Veep of HR and corporate attorney have always been against it. When I pay experts for their opinion I tend to listen to it.

    2) I'm putting my good name on the line for someone that no longer works for me. Where's the upside?

    This isn't to say I haven't written letters for protegee/intern type people but you get to know them well and the whole concept is they use you to go on to better things. These are people you hopefully want to know in the future.
     
  3. tj100

    tj100 Senior member

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    For me, it boils down to two reasons: 1) My Veep of HR and corporate attorney have always been against it. When I pay experts for their opinion I tend to listen to it. 2) I'm putting my good name on the line for someone that no longer works for me. Where's the upside? This isn't to say I haven't written letters for protegee/intern type people but you get to know them well and the whole concept is they use you to go on to better things. These are people you hopefully want to know in the future.
    So, I agree that I would never write one of those 'blanket' recommendation letters that you sometimes see (or that candidates sometimes submit alongside their resume). A recommendation is more powerful if you actually know what the job applied for is, so you can emphasize particular skills/traits in the candidate. At the same time, if I were asked to put a recommendation for a particular job in writing (i.e. in an email) I wouldn't hesitate to do it. To specifically address the points above (which are actually tied together): (1) HR and legal exist to minimize risk at all cost. To them, writing the letter just introduces risk and has no upside whatsoever. In reality there is upside to writing, not least being that it is the polite and appropriate thing to do - particularly for an employee who went the distance for you. (2) I don't know what your situation is, but I think it's a bit shortsighted to think there's 'no' upside. I worked for a CEO a few years ago who has served as a reference for me in the past, and in his most recent job change, the hiring company wanted to do 360 references. He asked me to provide a reference, which I gladly did. Another former boss asked me to support his membership application at my country club. References are reciprocal, and while you may believe that you'll never 'need' these people again, you might be surprised. At a certain point, part of being a good boss is being willing to put your own ass on the line for your subordinates (and former subordinates). If you're unwilling to go on the record because you're afraid of being sued, what kind of backbone is that? The balls of some people to ask for good references are pretty surprising. I had one guy who we fired for fraud supply my name (without asking) to a potential employer - which was a bank, of all things. Another where we let a guy go and he sued for age discrimination (and lost) - and then asked for a glowing reference.
     
  4. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Given the behavior of the former employee, I'd decline to write a letter or serve as a referent.
     
  5. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Given the behavior of the former employee, I'd decline to write a letter or serve as a referent.
    That alone is reason. But if that's not enough, Piob's #1 is very compelling.
     
  6. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Senior member

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    it's a 2/3 lose situation...

    if you tell the company the applicant is good and it turns out he's hired and is good, well then no problem. BUT
    if you say he's good and he turns out bad, he looks bad and so do you.
    if you say he's bad, he looks bad, and you may/not look bad too (although it doesn't matter)


    ie, there's way more downside risk to give a reference.

    and, while it's a generalization, people who are good at their jobs generally keep them or move up. So anyone who's jobhunting probably left when things weren't looking good for them.
     
  7. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    For me, it boils down to two reasons:

    1) My Veep of HR and corporate attorney have always been against it. When I pay experts for their opinion I tend to listen to it.

    2) I'm putting my good name on the line for someone that no longer works for me. Where's the upside?

    This isn't to say I haven't written letters for protegee/intern type people but you get to know them well and the whole concept is they use you to go on to better things. These are people you hopefully want to know in the future.


    If the person was a good worker and you know that he / she / conne* will continue to work well in the future, your upside is that you helped someone who helped you.



    *I wanted to be PC, so I put all 3 sexes: male, female and lack thereof.
     
  8. Lord-Barrington

    Lord-Barrington Senior member

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    For me, it boils down to two reasons: 1) My Veep of HR and corporate attorney have always been against it. When I pay experts for their opinion I tend to listen to it. 2) I'm putting my good name on the line for someone that no longer works for me. Where's the upside? This isn't to say I haven't written letters for protegee/intern type people but you get to know them well and the whole concept is they use you to go on to better things. These are people you hopefully want to know in the future.
    This seems like a cynical way to go through life. If I put in good time and good work with an employer and quit, on good terms and for good reason, I sure as hell expect them to vouch for me if needed much as I would vouch for them if the opportunity arose. This is how the business world functions, on a network of trust between businesses and businesspeople, not on a bunch of people dropping others the minute they are of no immediate and clear use to them. I realize you weren't categorically saying that you'd never vouch for an ex-employee, but to say that you wouldn't "put your good name on the line" for someone who doesn't work for you anymore seems incredibly shortsighted unless you work in an industry where your network means nothing.
     
  9. CouttsClient

    CouttsClient Senior member

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    This seems like a cynical way to go through life.

    If I put in good time and good work with an employer and quit, on good terms and for good reason, I sure as hell expect them to vouch for me if needed much as I would vouch for them if the opportunity arose. This is how the business world functions, on a network of trust between businesses and businesspeople, not on a bunch of people dropping others the minute they are of no immediate and clear use to them.

    I realize you weren't categorically saying that you'd never vouch for an ex-employee, but to say that you wouldn't "put your good name on the line" for someone who doesn't work for you anymore seems incredibly shortsighted unless you work in an industry where your network means nothing.


    1. Don't expect anything.

    2. One might consider that this is exactly what the ex-employee is doing

    I no longer write these letters but if someone calls me I will speak kindly. I will not put it in writing.
     
  10. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    Point him to HR for it or say company policy forbids it.

    Here is the story. An employee recently quit. He was probably going to be fired anyway and he knew that, so Friday afternoon two weeks ago he just walked out the door without any notice (he is a diva as you will see). He now wants a letter of recommendation.

    This is why I am on the fence about what to do. On the one hand he was a very good salesman, great with customers and was for the most part an alright guy. He would stay late whenever needed without any problem. As a person I liked him a lot.

    The flip side is he was a real diva, got into loud fights with other employees (sometimes in front of customers) and complained about certain tasks that he didn't want to do. I'm not talking about taking out the trash or cleaning toilets, I'm talking about writing his sales invoices correctly, an so on. Without a doubt the highest maintenance employee I have ever had. He was also often late. His trustworthiness is also suspect.

    I know these things will unlikely change, and to leave them out of the letter is a disservice to any future employer. To put them in and the letter is worthless. What say you SF?
     
  11. HotlantaHoward

    HotlantaHoward Senior member

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    For me, it boils down to two reasons:

    1) My Veep of HR and corporate attorney have always been against it. When I pay experts for their opinion I tend to listen to it.

    2) I'm putting my good name on the line for someone that no longer works for me. Where's the upside?

    This isn't to say I haven't written letters for protegee/intern type people but you get to know them well and the whole concept is they use you to go on to better things. These are people you hopefully want to know in the future.


    Lol, what a dick.
     

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