Job reference

The simple employer’s reference contains information on the type and duration of the employment relationship, the position as well as the activities of the employee.

The qualified job reference additionally contains an evaluation of performance and social behavior.

The employer must issue at least a simple employer’s reference without being asked. However, as a rule, employees can and should always request the qualified job reference. If only the simple reference is enclosed in a later application, personnel managers may suspect that the evaluation was poor and should therefore be concealed.

A reference must contain both true as well as benevolent be formulated. This means that no statements may be made that make it more difficult for an employee to continue his or her career. Open criticism is therefore not permitted, but can be read between the lines.

The evaluation in the employer’s reference is based on the classical School grades. However, these are not listed, but are hidden behind certain Formulations and Keywords.

In addition, with the help of special phrases, often as Secret code denotes, further subliminal statements about the employee are made. This procedure is prohibited by law, but still occurs in practice. Often hidden behind supposedly positive sentences massive criticism.

write an employer’s reference themselves?

Many companies offer employees the possibility of to write a job reference yourself. The finished draft is then usually only signed by a superior or a member of the personnel department. For you as an employee, this procedure represents a valuable chance dar. You have a direct influence on your presentation and increase your chances of success in future job applications with a good reference.

The problem: For laypersons, the typical Testimonial language often very opaque. In the worst case one disqualifies oneself with a supposedly harmless formulation. In this article, you will therefore not only find extensive information about the formal and content-related Structure as well as to the Formulations in the reference, but also helpful Templates for download.

Structure and content of the reference

When preparing a reference, certain formalities must be strictly observed. As an employee, you are entitled to a faultless, individual and written issued Testimonial on clean paper. Delivery by e-mail or fax is excluded.

The qualified job reference usually takes 1-2 pages a. The simple job reference, on the other hand, is much shorter due to the lack of evaluations and comprises no more than one page. Signed the reference is signed by an authorized person. This can be either a supervisor or a member of the personnel department.

A qualified job reference consists of the following components:

Company letterhead or company sheet: If the job reference is not printed on company paper, the company’s letterhead must be inserted at the beginning. The company stamp is not sufficient at this point.

Heading: The job reference must have a heading that identifies it as such. Usually this simply reads "Job reference". Also possible are "service certificate" (in public service), "training certificate" or "internship certificate".

Introductory sentence: The introductory sentence of the reference should contain the employee’s name, date and place of birth, as well as information on the period of employment and the position held in the company. A possible formulation is: "Ms. Maria Mustermann, born on 01.09.1990 in Hamburg, was from 01.08.2018 to 31.12.Working in our company in 2019 as an employee in the XY area."

Brief description of the company: The company description should include the company name as well as the industry. Other information may include headquarters, company size, legal form, number of locations, and type of products or services provided.

Job Description: The job description should state the most important and regularly performed tasks (job description). These are arranged according to relevance and can be listed in bullet point form. It is important that they are clearly distinguishable for a personnel manager. In addition, the job description may include information about personnel and budget responsibilities.

evaluation of the services rendered: In this section, the following areas are evaluated separately: Willingness to work, ability to work, professional knowledge, method of working, success at work and, if applicable. the management performance.

Assessment of social behavior: In this section, your behavior towards other people is evaluated. A distinction is made between behavior towards superiors, colleagues and customers (in this order).

Final sentence: The closing sentence of an employer’s reference is composed of several (optional) parts: Reason for termination (only with your consent), thank you formula, regret formula, and future wishes. While the performance review must be complete, the employer is not required to express gratitude or regret for your departure. The specific wording of the concluding sentence affects the impact of the report card and can therefore be considered part of the evaluation.

Place, date and signature of supervisor: The place, date and, above all, the supervisor’s signature are what make the reference a valid document.

Notes, secret codes and inadmissible statements

Those formulated as continuous text Reviews At first glance, the words in the reference appear to be exclusively positive, but they are not always so. Certain phrases and key words such as "always" or "most fully" can be used in the job reference to describe the classic School Grades read off.

Even the smallest adjustments to a sentence can make a big difference here. The examples in this section are intended to clarify the gradation and give you the opportunity to recognize school grades in your job reference.

Hidden notes in the overall rating

Particularly important is Overall rating / Performance summary. It can be z.B. Be worded as follows:

Grade 1 (very good): "Ms. Muster performed the tasks assigned to her always to our fully Satisfaction completed."

Grade 2 (good): "Mr. Muster has performed the tasks assigned to him always to our full Satisfaction completed."

Grade 2 (good): "Ms. Muster has performed the tasks assigned to her to our FULL Satisfaction completed."

Grade 3 (satisfactory): "Mr. Muster has completed the tasks assigned to him to our satisfaction full satisfaction done."

Grade 3 (satisfactory): "Ms. Muster has performed the tasks assigned to her always completed to our satisfaction."

Grade 4 (sufficient): "Mr. Muster has completed the tasks assigned to him to our satisfaction."

Grade 5 (unsatisfactory): "Ms. Muster fulfilled her tasks in general to our satisfaction."

Grade 6 (insufficient): "Mr. Muster endeavored himself to meet our requirements."

Evaluations in the final sentence

When stating the Reason for termination in the concluding sentence, a distinction can be made between different reasons:

termination of the employee ("at her own request")

Termination of the employer ("operational")

Agreement reached by both parties ("by mutual consent")

expiry of a fixed-term contract ("after expiry of the agreed period")

Termination without notice ("Mr./Mrs. Muster resigned on TT.MM.JJJJ from our company.")

A reason for leaving may only with the consent of the employee should be stated.

When formulating the farewell formula, consisting of Thank you formula, Regret formula and future wishes on the other hand, the employer has a free hand. The more detailed a concluding sentence is formulated, the more positive it is for the overall effect of your reference.

Examples of different grades in the farewell formula:

Grade 1 (very good): "We regret their decision to leave the company, extraordinary. For her professional and personal future we wish Ms. Muster further good luck and all the best."

Grade 2 (good): " He is leaving the company at his own request, which we very much regret. We wish him professionally furthermore much success and personally all the best."

Grade 3 (satisfactory): "Ms. Muster is leaving at her own request. We wish our employee continue much success and all the best in her private life."

Grade 4 (sufficient): "Mr. Muster is leaving the company at his own request. We wish him success and all the best for his future career and personal development."

Grade 5 (deficient): "With Mrs. Muster we lose a willed Employee. We wish her success and all the best."

Further Sample formulations for the grading of the individual areas (work motivation, work ability etc.) you will find in our free PDF document and in our specialist article "Job reference formulations.

Secret codes in the employer’s reference

With the help of certain formulations, which often seem harmless at first glance, the following can be included in the reference hidden statements are made about an employee. These so-called secret codes are well known among many recruiters, but are often not obvious to laypersons.

Although § 109 GewO explicitly prohibits the use of secret codes, they are still used in practice. However, not every problematic formulation has a bad intention. If the author of a reference is not familiar with the reference language, mistakes can easily be made and unintentionally negative statements can be included.

As an employee, it is advisable to know or be familiar with these codes have your reference checked by experts, to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Below you will find a Selection of popular reference codes. These relate to an employee’s work performance and behavior toward co-workers and supervisors.

Examples of secret codes in the job reference:

" He gets along well with his superiors." ⇒ He is a follower and shows no initiative of his own.

"For the concerns of the employees he always showed empathy." ⇒ he has flirted with the other employees resp. Had sexual contacts with other employees.

" He has expertise and a healthy self-confidence." ⇒ He covered up his lack of expertise with arrogance.

"He set about the tasks assigned to him with great zeal." ⇒ He was diligent, but did not succeed in his tasks.

" He completed all tasks dutifully and properly." ⇒ He was too bureaucratic and did not show initiative.

"He understood how to delegate the tasks assigned to him with success." ⇒ He shirked his work and handed over tasks to his colleagues.

"In his dealings with co-workers and superiors, he displayed a refreshing openness." ⇒ He was too cheeky to his superiors (and colleagues).

"He was interested in the subject matter/showed great interest in his tasks." ⇒ He was interested but did not succeed.

" He was very sociable and thus contributed to the improvement of the working atmosphere." ⇒ He had an alcohol problem.

Further hidden assessments in the work reference

In addition to grades and secret codes, a job reference can further hidden clues Include on performance and behavior of an employee.

Since only benevolent formulations are permissible in the job reference, criticism often manifests itself in the fact that negatively evaluated areas are are omitted. Missing z.B. mentioning expected competencies or soft skills, this suggests deficiencies. This type of evaluation is also known as "eloquent silence" denotes.

A negative impression is also created when certain tasks are mentioned in the job description, but the corresponding evaluations are missing.

Likewise you should become suspicious, if in your work certificate Self-evident facts such as punctuality or honesty are emphasized or even placed at the beginning. This indicates that important core competencies are missing.

In other places, it also depends on the correct sequence an: When evaluating your social behavior, behavior toward superiors is mentioned first, then behavior toward co-workers, and lastly, interaction with customers. If the behavior towards superiors is not in the first place, personnel managers will assume that this was not impeccable.

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