How to Evaluate a Letter of Recommendation for a Job Applicant?

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How to Evaluate a Letter of Recommendation for a Job Applicant?
Genevieve Northup, Editor, Germany

One method of pre-employment screening is letters of recommendation. According to Cascio (2010), a disadvantage of letters of recommendation is that the authors are rarely open and honest (p. 243). Therefore, managers must consider several criteria to assess the validity and the accuracy of letters of recommendation submitted by job applicants:
  1. ASSOCIATION: How long has the letter’s author known the applicant and how frequently has the author observed performance?
  2. CONCRETE DETAILS: Did the applicant work well with others and meet job requirements? Did the applicant exceed expectations?
  3. KNOWLEDGE OF POSITION FOR WHICH APPLICANT IS APPLYING: Is the author knowledgeable of the requirements and responsibilities of the position for which the applicant is applying? What is the writer’s position, and how familiar is he with the position in question? Are details provided that support the applicant’s abilities as they relate to the position? What is the writer’s position; how familiar are they with the position in question based on this information?
Besides employers, also employees requesting reference letters and those writing recommendations could also use these criteria to ensure their writing are effective.
Source: Cascio, W.F. (2010). Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Work Life, Profits. (8th ed.). NEW YORK, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.



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