Not everyone who asks you to write a recommendation deserves to have one. Whether they were unprofessional or just completely lackluster, you can’t in good conscience tell their next possible employer that this person should be hired. But you can’t just outright say that to someone and still maintain good will with the person. What should you do? In an article for the Muse, Ashley Stahl identifies three ways you can turn down a recommendation request:
- Check your employee handbook.
- Have a personal policy.
- Help me help you.
Turn Down or Turn In
Your best line of defense may come in the most mundane of places: your employee handbook. It’s a treasure trove of regulations, and somewhere in there may lie a company policy that forbids you from giving a recommendation. For once, your corporate overlords have smiled upon you with a seemingly trite rule. Now it’s not your fault in the slightest, but the company’s.
Now, should your handbook show no signs of bailing you out, Stahl says that having a personal policy can work wonders:
Even if your company doesn’t issue guidelines for recommendation letters, you have every right to create your own policy. The rule here is to keep it simple, concise, and without any room for argument. If an underperforming colleague—or any colleague, really—approaches you for a recommendation, it’s fair to say something like, “I’m sorry, I don’t write recommendations due to the liability that comes with them. I hope you understand.” Untouchable.
Alternatively, you may be approached by someone you don’t know well enough to write a recommendation for them. It is completely within your right to tell them you’re not familiar enough with their work, or you two didn’t work closely enough. Telling them this way shows that you have their best interests at heart, despite not being able to help. This approach can also work for an old colleague, by flipping it to say that it’s been too long since you worked together to accurately recall their work.
You can view the original article here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-nicely-turn-down-recommending-someone