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  #81  
Old 27.05.2016, 10:50
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Hi all
I would like to know your opinion on my reference letter. I have recently applied to a position and they told me that the reference letter was not good and therefore they did not wanted to continue with the process. Clearly I was not aware of all the "codes" inside, very nasty surprise. Thank you

1st Part..
the usual details about myself and the company (nationality, the company)

2nd Part
My responsibilities
"Name of the person...responsibilities as manager contain the following"

bullet points with responsibilities

"among the numerous activities which ..... managed we would like to mention the visible contribution to (and project name)"

3rd Part

(Name of the person) is an effective change agent who knows the change management theory and practice. He also has high skills and knowledge in understanding the market and industry trends.
We know (name) as a approachable and friendly person with a open minded approach. He contributed naturally to a positive spirit. He has strong communication and presentation skills and he also engages his audience easily. He built an effective working relationship with the (person that reported to me) resulting in positive output from his area of excellence

(Name of the person) has a pleasant personality which allow him to be an interface to trading partners and internal customers. It is worth mentioning that all communication and business discussions in our international company are handled in English, a language which he commands excellently.
This reference letter has been issued upon (name) request as he will be leaving (name of the company) as per (date)

We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his engagement and contribution to the company and wish all the best for his future


As said..apparently this is not a good ref.letter.

Can I ask the company to change it? Up to what level they will accept and introduce "better" references.

Thank you very much
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  #82  
Old 27.05.2016, 20:58
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

There is usually a Statement about the quantity and the Quality of your
work as well. It should usually say something like "Herr John Smith hat
quantitative and qualitativ Leistungen zur unserer vollsten Zufriedenheit
erbracht."
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  #83  
Old 27.05.2016, 22:42
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Re: Things to look for in a Zeugnis [work reference]

I've heard from some of my colleagues that in a Zeugnis there are certain "code words" that are used to signal to other HR professionals if someone is actually a good worker or not without directly saying so. Anyone else heard of this?
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  #84  
Old 27.05.2016, 23:34
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Hi all
I would like to know your opinion on my reference letter. I have recently applied to a position and they told me that the reference letter was not good and therefore they did not wanted to continue with the process. Clearly I was not aware of all the "codes" inside, very nasty surprise. Thank you

1st Part..
the usual details about myself and the company (nationality, the company)

2nd Part
My responsibilities
"Name of the person...responsibilities as manager contain the following"

bullet points with responsibilities

"among the numerous activities which ..... managed we would like to mention the visible contribution to (and project name)"

3rd Part

(Name of the person) is an effective change agent who knows the change management theory and practice. He also has high skills and knowledge in understanding the market and industry trends.
We know (name) as a approachable and friendly person with a open minded approach. He contributed naturally to a positive spirit. He has strong communication and presentation skills and he also engages his audience easily. He built an effective working relationship with the (person that reported to me) resulting in positive output from his area of excellence

(Name of the person) has a pleasant personality which allow him to be an interface to trading partners and internal customers. It is worth mentioning that all communication and business discussions in our international company are handled in English, a language which he commands excellently.
This reference letter has been issued upon (name) request as he will be leaving (name of the company) as per (date)

We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his engagement and contribution to the company and wish all the best for his future


As said..apparently this is not a good ref.letter.

Can I ask the company to change it? Up to what level they will accept and introduce "better" references.

Thank you very much
Hi there, I know the "tricks" in German but didn't analyze a reference written in English yet, so I won't try here either. I can tell you for sure that the last sentence means he's leaving and we don't mind. " It is worth mentioning that all communication and business discussions in our international company are handled in English, a language which he commands excellently." could mean your German/French/Italian where ever you worked, is not all that good. (?)

You can not ask the company to change it. You can ask for a "Arbeitsbestätigung" though which will only include the facts (from when to when you worked there, what you did), no opinions. They must give you that - I would ask for it, this way you have both.
Good luck job hunting, the reference - although an important part - is not everything
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  #85  
Old 28.05.2016, 06:31
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

I did ask (2 times) to change the reference letter successfully.

This letter is very bad (did someone have a grudge?) and it looks like somebody wrote it another language and copypasted in Google translate (poor style, grammar mistakes).

has a pleasant personality is the kiss of death.
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  #86  
Old 30.05.2016, 08:47
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Thank you all for your comments. I will keep you posted with the results
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Old 30.05.2016, 12:18
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Let's assume that I am willing to pay for the services of a person/company who is experienced and can help decode such a reference letter. Where do I find such a person/company? Career advisers and coaches are plentiful, but according to my personal experience it can be hard to cross-check whether they are really as experienced as they claim to be.

By the way, I find these "secret codes" really tricky. Why on earth is a reference to a "pleasant personality" the "kiss of death"? Should it be a "wonderful personality" or what?
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  #88  
Old 30.05.2016, 13:29
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

I have been advised to contact a lawyer (specialized in work related topics) and request a "normal ref.letter" without any coding or room for misreading.

If this works and my previous employer accept it, not sure. But if yes....I think it worth to try.
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  #89  
Old 30.05.2016, 14:11
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Let's assume that I am willing to pay for the services of a person/company who is experienced and can help decode such a reference letter. Where do I find such a person/company?
Lawyers specialized in employment law.

Quote:
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By the way, I find these "secret codes" really tricky. Why on earth is a reference to a "pleasant personality" the "kiss of death"? Should it be a "wonderful personality" or what?
They are supposed to be tricky. Wonderful personality would also not be good The things in that reference made me wonder if maybe pascualji was a bit too much the flirt and life of the party to the bosses. <<he also engages his audience easily>> and <<He built an effective working relationship with the (person that reported to me) resulting in positive output from his area of excellence>> made me wonder how effective/close that was. There's just a tad too much about his "personality" in there.

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I have been advised to contact a lawyer (specialized in work related topics) and request a "normal ref.letter" without any coding or room for misreading.

If this works and my previous employer accept it, not sure. But if yes....I think it worth to try.
I'd talk to the employer first. Someone corrected me when I wrote you can only ask for it to be replaced by a "Arbeitsbestätigung" (work confirmation?) but that's the law. It doesn't mean you can't talk to the people and sending a lawyer means business while you actually want to keep them in a good mood at the moment. I also suspected - as someone else mentioned - that this was not written by an English speaking person.

As to the coding, i'm kind of surprised this is still being used. I can't remember my last reference that didn't explicitly say at the end that no coding is being used in it.
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  #90  
Old 13.06.2016, 17:06
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Well, there are few things which don't work that easy, lawyers included.
An ex colleague of mine got a very bad zeugnis, few lines without much info provided (on mine doesn't even say "Zeugnis" or "recommendation letter"). He have sent an email to the company saying that he is not pleased with what's written in the zeugnis, reminding them which were his tasks and what he have done and achieved during the time working for the company. He have received a very insulting email back in which they called him "dummkopf" and some other thing which I don't remember now, telling him that he can only dream about a normal zeugnis and if he doesn't stop disturbing them they will give bad phone references for him. The guy took a lawyer which declared that she'd never seen anything like that before and she'll take care of that. After delays and unanswered/un-returned phone calls, she said she spoke with the company reps on the phone and they seem to be very nice people and very cooperative and they want to see what they should write in the zeugnis. Then they started to complain that those facts are not correct and the guy never had to do that. He proved with his job description that those were his tasks, then the company said "ok, but we will write that we told him what to do and he only executed". Now the lawyer strongly suggest that my colleague should accept this "compromise".
You draw the conclusions here.
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  #91  
Old 13.06.2016, 17:25
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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You draw the conclusions here.
The moment your notice period begins get a Zwischenzeugnis. Ultimately, if they need you for a critical handover or similar, they'll write you a good Zwischenzeugnis to keep you motivated. Once written, there's very they can change, other than the tense, three months (or less) later when you finally leave and are entitled to get your Arbeitszeugnis.
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  #92  
Old 13.06.2016, 20:13
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

From my own experience. ALWAYS use registered mail for correspondence in such cases and give a deadline for response. This is the only way of communication which works and one is taken seriously. Attach everything (read insulting e-mails, usw.) to the letters you send. There must be a paper trail. You must justify in detail why and how you want the Zeugnis changed as good as you can. I strongly recommend that all of this is done in German, if at all possible. They will put nothing, I repeat nothing, in official correspondence, which can backfire.
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  #93  
Old 22.06.2016, 09:20
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Thank you all for your comments. I have talked to the company and they agree on making a new Ref.Letter.
Here the new one. I don't think they have improved it a lot...but

1) Again all the information about the company....my position and the task/responsibilities.

2) "Among the numerous activities which XX managed we would like to mention the visible contribution to ....(specific project) and delivered to the substantial efficiency improvement

3) XXX is an effective change agent who knows the change management theory and practice. He also has high skills and knowledge in understanding the market and industry trends.
XXX contributed to the development of (another project) by coordinating a large number of internal and external stakeholders and showed a good performance in this activities

**This last part of the sentence is new. I little disappointed since I have my performance review for all the years in the company with 95% of goals achievement average ***

4) We know XXX as a approachable and friendly person with a open minded approach. He contributed naturally to a positive spirit. He has strong communication and presentation skills and he also engages his audience easily. He build an effective working relationship with the Analysis that reported to him, resulting in positive output from his area of excellence.

XXX has a pleasant personality which allow him to be an interface to trading partners Vice President level and below

5) This reference letter has been issued upon XXX's request as he will be leaving the company as per....
We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his engagement and contribution to the company and wish him all the best for his future

See you see the result (so far) of my conversations with the company to get a Ref.Letter a little better.

What do you think?

Thank you
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  #94  
Old 14.07.2016, 12:23
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

There has been some excellent comments in this thread, but could you guys still give your opinion my recommendation letter. So most of the letter sounds good to me, with enough superlatives etc, but then it ends like this:

xxx left xxx at the end of her time-limited contract. In summary, we can recommend her to you without any reservations. We wish her all the best for the future, both professionally and personally.

It's the middle sentence I'm concerned about. There is no "we HIGHLY recommend" or similar. Like this it sounds a bit bad. What's your thoughts??

Thanks!
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  #95  
Old 14.07.2016, 15:48
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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xxx left xxx at the end of her time-limited contract. In summary, we can recommend her to you without any reservations. We wish her all the best for the future, both professionally and personally.

It's the middle sentence I'm concerned about. There is no "we HIGHLY recommend" or similar. Like this it sounds a bit bad. What's your thoughts??
With 'highly' would be better. Also 'continued success' is much better than just 'success'. Mind you, the wording of these letters can drive you become a paranoid mess if you take them too seriously.
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  #96  
Old 28.03.2017, 16:04
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Someone on here told me that if the part of the reference about working relationship with managers and colleagues is in that order: i.e. manager, then colleagues... then it is fine but if it is the other way around, it indicates that you were a pain to manage.

Any truth in that?
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  #97  
Old 28.03.2017, 16:14
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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There has been some excellent comments in this thread, but could you guys still give your opinion my recommendation letter. So most of the letter sounds good to me, with enough superlatives etc, but then it ends like this:

xxx left xxx at the end of her time-limited contract. In summary, we can recommend her to you without any reservations. We wish her all the best for the future, both professionally and personally.

It's the middle sentence I'm concerned about. There is no "we HIGHLY recommend" or similar. Like this it sounds a bit bad. What's your thoughts??

Thanks!
Not everyone can have "highly recommended" othewise it would be meaningless
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  #98  
Old 14.04.2017, 00:36
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

I've written quite a few of these (in English) - at both Swiss companies where I worked, these are compiled via fixed forms with some free text and some drop-down fields.

You are normally limited to 6-10 free text lines to detail factually what you did as part of your role, plus maybe 2-6 additional free text lines for any special projects you did, or any special qualities or attributes you had.

After that are the fixed fields - usually these are closely related to the results of your most recent one or two annual performance reviews, and in my experience HR prefer the writer (manager) to aim them a little higher than what the annual reviews might warrant to try to head off any complaints.

Based on my experience, this is no better than a poor-to-average reference. Better ones would contain more liberal sprinklings of positive modifiers such as highly / thoroughly / professionally / greatly / exemplary / strongly / excellent / very etc, and would focus more on achievements.

Also when they focus a lot on your personality, it means they don't think much of your work and aren't sad to see you go.
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  #99  
Old 15.02.2018, 11:26
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Whats to stop an employee editing a reference in order to improve it?
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  #100  
Old 15.02.2018, 11:38
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Whats to stop an employee editing a reference in order to improve it?
Nothing, in the same way that nothing stops you faking your other qualifications.

But they may check with a call to your previous employer (I have, where the references didn't seem to add up), and get the HR friendly "yes, I can confirm he worked here" rather than "yeah he's a great guy, we really miss him" and then they could compare the actual reference.

If you get caught it would be grounds for immediate dismissal. In jobs with a professional body you could also face disciplinary sanctions.
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