Write a Weak Recommendation For a Job Candidate | Letter-Writing Guide


This letter is written when you can neither honestly recommend a job candidate nor easily refuse to write a recommendation. Carefully control the wording and tone so that the reader will get the message while the writer is protected from the threat of litigation. If at all possible, it would be better to refuse to write a letter of recommendation.


1. Identify the person you are endorsing, and indicate that the candidate asked you to write the recommendation.

  • John Doe has asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him.
  • At John Doe's request, I have prepared this letter of reference.
  • John Doe has requested that I prepare this letter for him as he leaves Doe Corporation to pursue other career opportunities.
  • Jane Doe has asked that I provide a letter of recommendation to accompany her application.
  • has asked me to
  • letter of recommendation
  • at the request of
  • at his request
  • I have prepared this response on his/her behalf
  • has requested that I
  • as she leaves
  • to pursue other opportunities
  • to accompany his application

2. Discuss your relationship with the candidate and indicate how long you have known him or her.

  • John worked at Doe Corporation for five years, during which time I was his immediate supervisor.
  • John was hired by Doe Corporation right out of graduate school, and he has always performed satisfactory service for us.
  • John and I were in graduate school together at Springfield University in the late '70s. We both worked in the real estate business in the Springfield area after we graduated. I lost track of him for about a decade, but we recently ran into each other at a restaurant.
  • Jane took a physics class that I taught several years ago. I keep good records of my students, so I am able to respond to these requests.
  • We served together in the military for several months in Vietnam.
  • first came to work for
  • for the past five years
  • has been with us since
  • has worked at
  • has been employed by
  • has worked under my supervision
  • we have worked together for
  • we have known each other for
  • lost track of him for
  • served together on
  • was one of our associates
  • was my assistant
  • was my manager
  • was my colleague
  • was hired by
  • was one of my students
  • was employed by
  • we were at school together
  • worked for us

3. Give your recommendation in language that is properly limited and modulated to convey reservation without direct condemnation. Discuss positive qualities in minor or irrelevant areas and say little or nothing about the problems in areas of major concern.

  • Jane is a steady worker.
  • John dresses very well.
  • Jane is always polite.
  • John is a very likable person.
  • John is a quiet and reserved person who prefers to work by himself and at his own steady pace.
  • John is a quiet and reserved person who prefers to work by himself at his own steady pace.
  • John has the independence of mind to dress and speak according to his own judgment. He is not one to back down from a controversy.
  • John's personnel reviews clearly show that he is a satisfactory employee in many ways. ? John was always willing to help with our company socials and was a good worker.
  • always dresses well
  • good attendance record
  • great firmness of mind
  • has many different interests
  • has taken on many assignments
  • has a friendly attitude
  • is very sociable
  • is very likable
  • is not one to back down
  • is very independent
  • is consistently courteous
  • is well-liked by her
  • is always polite
  • is always willing to try
  • is always respectful
  • is very punctual
  • is very fastidious
  • not afraid of controversy
  • personnel reviews show that
  • prefers not to get involved with
  • presents a smart appearance
  • shows independence of mind
  • works at his own pace

4. Close with a final assertion of recommendation and offer to provide more information, if you wish. Such a statement is often a way of suggesting that there is more to be said about the person.

  • We sincerely hope he will find the kinds of professional opportunities he seeks.
  • John is very consistent. I expect that he will work for his next employer in much the same way as he worked for us.
  • Please let me know if I can answer any further questions concerning his work habits.
  • You will find John to be a very trustworthy employee who gets along well with others.
  • If I can answer other confidential queries concerning John's work habits and performance record, I will be happy to do so.
  • a trustworthy employee
  • any other information
  • gets along well with others
  • has always been congenial
  • expect that
  • I hope that he will
  • if I can answer
  • in her future career
  • is usually consistent
  • please let me know
  • sincerely hope that
  • will find success in the future
  • I will be happy to
  • will find the right niche
  • will be happy in his next job
  • I wish her the very best
  • work environment he seeks

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