How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Someone You Don't Like

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Nothing is worse than when you and a co-worker have a completely different assessment of your relationship. You absolutely can't stand them. But, your co-worker thinks the two of you are close enough that to ask you to write a letter of recommendation for them. Well here are some steps on how you can simply grit your teeth and bear it.

  • Set aside your personal feelings toward that person. Sure they've made you mad, sure you think they are a blithering moron. But the case may be that if your letter is well written, they move onto another job or another part of the company. Having them out of your life would certainly be a good thing. Take the approach that you're helping yourself as much as you're helping them.

  • List traits, attributes or project successes where the other person really has done a good job. Even if you despise them, there must be something positive. Avoid making things up, because at the end of the day, it is still your name and your reputation on the paper. Only stick to traits, attributes or successes that you can defend if you were ever called on the carpet.

  • Introduce the letter by mentioning who you are in relation to the other person as well as how long you've worked with them and your job title. This is the credibility portion of the letter of recommendation that will allow the reader to sit up and take notice. Don't try and force the importance of your position. Remember it is your reputation as well as it is the person for whom you are writing.

  • Keep it short and sweet. The five paragraph rule certainly applies for this letter of recommendation. After your introduction, spend three paragraphs of a few sentences which go over the person's strong suits. Remember that in today's email society our attention spans have shrunk. The letter should be no more than a page and a half.

  • Close by reiterating why you feel they are a great candidate for the new position, scholarship or whatever the recommendation is for. Adding a light joke always gives the recommendation a bit of levity as well. Just think, this person is probably submitting three recommendations and the interviewer is reading dozens. A little joke will help yours stand out.

  • Print it, sign it and move on with your life. Because you really don't like this person, don't allow yourself to become part of their game where they ask you to make changes or say specific things. Keep your own integrity, because after all it is certainly you who are doing them a favor, not the other way around.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never write a nasty letter of recommendation. You never know where people move around in the business world.

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