November 14, 2015

Is there a secret code for letters of recommendation?

Orgtheory - On this blog I’ve been told to avoid certain things in letters of recommendation. For example, “hard working” has a bizarre secret reading of “untalented.” Someone once told me that “please call me,” a boiler plate sentence, actually means “this person is psychotic but I can only tell you over the phone.” Allegedly, saying that one is good at teaching, has good people skills, or is caring also broadcasts “loser.” At the end of the day, is there anything I can write short of “this person is a genius” that won’t be wildly misread as a secret code for dork? My goal is to write well considered, high information letters for non-geniuses who clearly deserve jobs and admission to graduate school. So, please, tell me the secret code! I’m tenured and I still don’t know it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Letters of Recommendation don't exist any more, at least not in business. Maybe in academe still. Furthermore, most corporations would frown on executives writing any letters referencing the traits or behavior of an employee, good or bad; the potential for lawsuits is too great, at least the perception is such. So essentially this article is somewhat misleading. That said, there certainly is a code for "recommendations" conveyed orally. But this is not big news, it's existed for generations. Rather like those regarding women. Such as, "she has a pretty face" which really means she's a fatty.