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Old 25.01.2015, 20:38
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Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

Hi all,

I received the following closing paragraph in my interim reference letter:

"We are issuing this interim reference at the request of M. XXX. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his good contribution and wish him all the best and every success for the future."

I find it a bit weak in comparison to what I did and the evaluations which I got before. I have the feeling that "good contribution" sounds a bit like "he did the work ok but not more".

What do you think, I would appreciate your help as I invested quite some time and sweat in my actual position!

If you have also any advice to convince my employer to change the wording, I would be very happy!

Thanks for your help!
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Old 25.01.2015, 20:45
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

U got the meaning... .you can ask for it to be changed, they don't have to though.
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Old 26.01.2015, 09:35
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

thanks a lot, it confirms what I was suspecting... They don't really want to change it that's now my problem. I have tried all my best, refering to the evaluations I had, but they hide behind some "official" company wording... Thx again
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Old 26.01.2015, 09:45
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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thanks a lot, it confirms what I was suspecting... They don't really want to change it that's now my problem. I have tried all my best, refering to the evaluations I had, but they hide behind some "official" company wording... Thx again
Lol, I can guess who you work for. I wouldn't get too hung up over it though, I don't think it'd make or break your chances of getting to the interview stage when applying for other jobs. There's a lot more to your reference and indeed your full job application than this close off.
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Old 26.01.2015, 10:04
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

You're lucky. I asked an ex-employer for a reference, for my Uni application. For a UK uni application, you are supposed to have a full A4 page reference saying how awesome you are at various different things. My employer sent me a standard reference saying " Island Money worked for us from date X to date X" that was it …. I had to get a work colleague to write something different for me!
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Old 26.01.2015, 10:25
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

I am discovered!

I was thinking actually to pay for the analysis of my interim reference in order to have something concrete on what to negociate. Would you have any recommandation for this (person or company)?

Thanks a again for your support!
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Old 26.01.2015, 11:52
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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I am discovered!

I was thinking actually to pay for the analysis of my interim reference in order to have something concrete on what to negociate. Would you have any recommandation for this (person or company)?

Thanks a again for your support!
I honestly wouldn't bother. What do you hope to achieve? You could spend all that time and effort and there's no guarantee they'd change it anyway. These references aren't hand written anyhow, a few boxes are ticked in a form and they get generated from that, so don't take it personally.

I'm 99% sure that future prospective employers won't be too concerned with it, (depending on how the rest of the reference sounds). So spend the effort you would have done getting your reference changed looking for a suitable job and making a decent application .
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Old 26.01.2015, 12:22
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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I honestly wouldn't bother. What do you hope to achieve? You could spend all that time and effort and there's no guarantee they'd change it anyway. These references aren't hand written anyhow, a few boxes are ticked in a form and they get generated from that, so don't take it personally.
True. I just got my interim reference. There is no way my boss could have written that letter as his English just isn't that good - and he did it quick.

It is an automated system that creates 'standard text' as a result of the checkboxes that you tick. I'm not sure if you can even add your 'own' text in that system.
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Old 26.01.2015, 12:25
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

I didn't like my letter, so I sent it to my boss with the corrections I wanted, and asked him to sign it.

Which he did.
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Old 26.01.2015, 19:06
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

Ok, thanks all for your feedback and for the suggestions. it sounds so important here in Switzerland these reference letters, that I may be focused a bit too much on it!

Let's think about something else... if I can
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Old 26.01.2015, 19:35
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

There was a recent case takent up by an article in the employment section of our local paper recently. Same sort of issue, an employee wanted the employer to change the reference to something unequivocal in wording, something like 'totally satisfactory' instead of 'satisfactory' - something like that. Employer refused and it went to tribunal- and employee lost. Judge said that employers had the right to choose their wordings, not the employee- or otherwise references would not be worth the paper they are written on.
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Old 26.01.2015, 19:46
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There was a recent case takent up by an article in the employment section of our local paper recently. Same sort of issue, an employee wanted the employer to change the reference to something unequivocal in wording, something like 'totally satisfactory' instead of 'satisfactory' - something like that. Employer refused and it went to tribunal- and employee lost. Judge said that employers had the right to choose their wordings, not the employee- or otherwise references would not be worth the paper they are written on.
The reference letter must reflect the employee evaluations.

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Hi all,

I received the following closing paragraph in my interim reference letter:

"We are issuing this interim reference at the request of M. XXX. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his good contribution and wish him all the best and every success for the future."

I find it a bit weak in comparison to what I did and the evaluations which I got before. I have the feeling that "good contribution" sounds a bit like "he did the work ok but not more".

What do you think, I would appreciate your help as I invested quite some time and sweat in my actual position!

If you have also any advice to convince my employer to change the wording, I would be very happy!

Thanks for your help!
Do you have the German wording? If so, You can use a book about references to see
The wording and implied meaning

Last edited by 3Wishes; 26.01.2015 at 20:53. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 26.01.2015, 20:46
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

What I have never been able to understand is the Swiss habit of saying one thing in a reference and meaning another. Hypocrisy or what?
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Old 26.01.2015, 20:50
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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The reference letter must reflect the employee evaluations.
That's what I always believed from posts here on EF. Always thought it made no sense- what is the point of references that mean nothing and do not reflect the employer's evaluation? As said above, not worth the paper the ref is written on- and worse, devalues all good to excellent refs imho.

Shame I didn't keep the employment section of L'Express of a few weeks back- as for the first time, the Lawyer was describing a case lost by the claimant- and confirming that the employer can use the wording s/he wants to use without being influenced by the employee. The Federal Tribunal judged against the employee. Makes sense to me.

Marsalforn- the 'reading between the lines' language of references is probably used all over the world, to be honest. Certainly is in the UK. In the field I was in in th UK- references were always checked by phone and this is often the conversation that counted, not the words on the ref. Possibly the same in lots of businesses here.

Last edited by Odile; 26.01.2015 at 22:17.
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Old 26.01.2015, 21:14
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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... They don't really want to change it that's now my problem. I have tried all my best, refering to the evaluations I had, but they hide behind some "official" company wording... Thx again
Thinking along the same lines as NaT... Why not write your own letter and see if they'll sign it. Don't exaggerate or anything but make it more reflective of your performance reviews. Managers are not in the mood to do the work of writing/rewriting. Take the work out of it for your boss and give him something agreeable to sign. Worth a shot!
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Old 27.01.2015, 10:49
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

"good contribution" is NOT a good feedback, sorry. It says that you were a mediocre employee at best.

While I haven't included a written reference letter in applications within Switzerland for many years, I realize the reference letter is an important document for many companies. I would therefore have this changed and agree that you should propose a wording and send it to your former boss. That being said, if he does not want to change it, then so be it - maybe there's indeed a reason.

Legally, a reference needs to be "benevolent", which is one of the stupidest laws ever as the result is that reference letters often don't reflect the employer's actual opinion at all, but are just some standardized blahblah. We've actually received threats around this from former employees who, frankly, were absolutely awful and should have been glad they got a half-decent reference at all, yet they threatened to sue us on these legal grounds. How ridiculous is that...
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Old 27.01.2015, 11:35
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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The reference letter must reflect the employee evaluations.
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That's what I always believed from posts here on EF. Always thought it made no sense- what is the point of references that mean nothing and do not reflect the employer's evaluation? As said above, not worth the paper the ref is written on- and worse, devalues all good to excellent refs imho.
I think you've possibly misunderstood HollidayG's post - which was that the reference letter must be in some sort of agreement with employee evaluations. These are a sort of periodic internal checkup (you might know them as "performance reviews"?)

In other words, the company can't give you a quarterly review saying everything is great, you're doing fantastic, and then three weeks later issue a reference saying/implying your performance for them has been only mediocre. If they did that, you could (possibly) force them to change the reference, on the grounds that it does not reflect their real evaluation of you.
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Old 27.01.2015, 12:06
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

Well from what I see, I am not the only one having bad feelings regarding these reference letters... For me it sounds very often as a loser/loser solution: the company cannot say what they really think and the employee has a great pressure to get something extraordinary.

I did actually propose my own version for the reference letter (as suggested by 3Wishes) and with references to previous evaluations, and they were kind to take nearly all my modifications.

So, now I have a kind of nice reference letter, but then you have this closing paragraph which from my point of view spoils the rest...
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Old 27.01.2015, 13:26
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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Well from what I see, I am not the only one having bad feelings regarding these reference letters... For me it sounds very often as a loser/loser solution: the company cannot say what they really think and the employee has a great pressure to get something extraordinary.

I did actually propose my own version for the reference letter (as suggested by 3Wishes) and with references to previous evaluations, and they were kind to take nearly all my modifications.

So, now I have a kind of nice reference letter, but then you have this closing paragraph which from my point of view spoils the rest...
Did you see the post earlier where somebody after reading just this one paragraph reckons he knows the company? To me that indicates that HR may well be telling you the truth, that that paragraph is company standard wording. In that case their unwillingness to change it is probably not because they want to be mean to you, it's just that they don't want to set a precedent for everyone else.

If the rest of the letter is good I wouldn't sweat it. You've already pushed them for changes and they've made most of them; if they're holding out on one or two particular sentences, at some point you probably just have to accept that and move on.
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Old 27.01.2015, 13:43
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Re: Reference letter, closing paragraph advice

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I think you've possibly misunderstood HollidayG's post - which was that the reference letter must be in some sort of agreement with employee evaluations. These are a sort of periodic internal checkup (you might know them as "performance reviews"?)

In other words, the company can't give you a quarterly review saying everything is great, you're doing fantastic, and then three weeks later issue a reference saying/implying your performance for them has been only mediocre. If they did that, you could (possibly) force them to change the reference, on the grounds that it does not reflect their real evaluation of you.
Totally agree in this case, if previous and recent evaluation was very good/excellent. In the case I cited which went to the Federal Tribunal- the employee was given several warnings and finally asked to leave. The reference said his performance 'gave satisfaction' and the employee wanted to have it changed to 'entire satisfaction' - the Tribunal went against the employee, and said the reference reflected the reality and was in fact comparatively positive in the circumstances. If employers can't give neutral or even negative refs for poor performance- it devalues all good to excellent refs for those who deserve them imho.

Last edited by Odile; 27.01.2015 at 18:22.
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