What is a good work ethic

Job reference: This is how you translate the code and the wording

Job references are also important for working students!

Employment references usually read positively across the board. But not everything that sounds like praise is praise. How do you recognize a good report card?

Job references have become an indispensable part of a successful application and complement a cover letter, CV and short profile. Every intern, working student or employee should request these performance reviews from their employer in any case, preferably shortly after the termination of the employment relationship.

Qualified job reference: Everything about the evaluation (formulas, empty phrases, nuances)

Although there are guidelines and laws in Germany that prohibit employers from writing negative or negative reviews about former employees, such remarks are often indirectly contained in the reference language.

In recent years, an encrypted language, the so-called certificate code, has developed in HR departments. At first glance, the testimony sounds very positive to many, but in reality it often isn't. Often, the perspective or assessment of the employer through the use of active or passive formulations can already be recognized in the introduction. If, for example, it is actively formulated "Ms. Huber worked in our marketing department from December 1, 2010 to June 31, 2012", the HR department gives a positive overall assessment. If, however, “We confirm that Ms. Huber was employed in our marketing department from December 1, 2010 to June 31, 2012”, this means that the employer was generally dissatisfied.

'Always' or 'By and large'? Grades in the certificate

In the detailed performance assessment in the main part of the job reference, negative comments are almost imperceptible to untrained eyes. If, instead of “always to the fullest satisfaction”, which would be the top grade, “by and large to our satisfaction” is used, it can be concluded that the tasks were often not completed as expected.

Judgments about the attitude to work such as "he showed interest" or "he tried hard" should also be taken into account, as these show the new employer that the applicant was committed but did not perform as expected. If negatives are included in the evaluation, even the non-negative statement is explicitly meant. »Your performance was not to be criticized« means the opposite and therefore grade 5 or 6.

What must be included in the job reference?

A good job reference can create a significant increase in employment opportunities. On the other hand, general comments, obvious things or trivial matters can be very disadvantageous. Formulations such as "Mr. Miller has a good knowledge of the subject" are often viewed as inferior because nothing specific is mentioned about the person. The skills or work results are not described in more detail, which means that Mr. Miller could have been replaced in the company without difficulty. If important main tasks are not described in detail or not at all, it can be assumed that the employee could not be used for core tasks that would have been of great importance to the company. Explicitly mentioned punctuality, for example, is viewed as derogatory, as this is expected from every employee.

Job reference: final wording and greeting

The conclusion usually confirms the overall picture of the employee indicated in the introduction. Final formulations such as "We very much regret his departure and wish him all the best and continued success in his future career and life" mean that the company would have been very reluctant to let him go and would have gladly continued to employ him. "We wish her the best of luck in her future career", actually means "Perhaps she will improve in the future, she has achieved little with us". Reasons for leaving are also taken into account by the personnel managers.

"He is leaving us by mutual agreement" implies that the employee has been dismissed. Statements like "He's leaving us at his own request" are ideal and leave a good impression.

How do I recognize a good job reference?

Now, of course, the question arises for many: How can you judge whether a certificate is good? And what does it have to be? The introduction, including precisely dated information on the start and exit, must not be missing. The full name and place of work must also be clearly marked. It is also important to state the exact name of the role or in the company. A good introduction must be actively formulated in terms of language in order to underline the first positive impression.

This is followed by a detailed job description of the activity performed. The job description must be detailed and must not relate purely to superficialities, because the new company wants to know whether the applicant, based on their experience and specialist knowledge, fits into the pattern of the candidate they are looking for. Core tasks that were important for the company and the role of the employee must be described in detail.

The tasks that are important for the professional field should come first so that the applicant can convince as a qualified candidate in the application process. You should make sure that all central tasks are in place.

A tip from the career expert: You can proactively send your employer a list / overview for creating references. In this way, you ensure that secondary employment does not form the main part of the description.

Job reference: Assessment of your performance

The main function of your job reference is to assess your performance. Exemplary certificates award a total of around eight to twelve different individual grades that describe you in detail. Initially, your motivation or willingness to work will be assessed. It is important here that the description of your willingness to work is not generalized. Does the HR management show your readiness as

“He was hardworking and reliably processed the tasks entrusted to him”, this means that you were committed, but that you could only be assigned simple and risk-free tasks. The new employer could therefore doubt your intelligence. Formulations that sound very convincing include "She was always motivated" and "She handled the tasks entrusted to her in an exemplary manner". You should also make sure that typical work characteristics are described instead of superficial characteristics. In the case of a journalist, for example, curiosity and analytical thinking skills should be described, or in the case of a sales representative, negotiating skills and persuasiveness should be described.

Job reference: why were you an important employee?

Your key qualifications must match your role in the company and show why you were an important employee. Knowledge that is specific to your subject area not only distinguishes you as an expert, but also as adaptable, committed and inquisitive. Continuing education and training are also important points that HR managers pay attention to. It is therefore essential that all important and targeted further training courses are included in the certificate. They're important evidence that the company was ready to invest in your talent. Mentioning PC skills explicitly is not a must. However, anyone who works in the IT industry or has, for example, been able to use or expand SAP knowledge in their job should be able to provide evidence of this. A complete testimonial should include a brief description of how you work. Words like ›structured‹ or ›goal-oriented‹ convey that you have used your logical thinking profitably and were very well organized. Words like ›considered› mean that you can think analytically, but you weren't very decisive.

The description of your work success is the crucial part of a certificate for every HR manager. This component will reinforce or nullify all of the aforementioned achievements. Because in a company, candidates ultimately differ based on their ability to deliver good results and solutions. Successes therefore not only have to be described in detail, they also have to be related to the tasks assigned to you. In sales, for example, it has a very positive effect when it is mentioned that you have built good relationships with important customers and that your work has always been of good quality. Bad reports often contradict each other and contain formulations such as "The quality of his work results was not objectionable". In order to further enhance your success, it is important to mention particular successes in project work or special tasks. Here, not only does the employer provide evidence of results, it also shows that you masterfully completed the demanding assignments you were given.

Evaluation of your behavior in the job reference

Finally, your internal and external behavior is assessed. References should also evaluate your relationship with superiors, colleagues and employees (this order is also of great importance). If your testimonial does not include supervisors, it is believed that you lacked a sense of authority and acted unprofessionally. The top grade usually describes behavior as “exemplary” or “always flawless”. The behavior towards customers and business partners is ideally assessed separately, but is usually only typical for professions in which contact with customers was an important part. In conclusion, job references contain a formula of thanks and regret.

The regret formula confirms that you were an important collaborator and that you were very reluctant to let go. It is not necessary, but positive, to state the reason for the termination so that the employer can confirm that you left the company on your own initiative and on good terms. Subsequent wishes for the future and success also confirm the mutually good relationship and should be included in every certificate. So that the employer does not doubt the informative value of your reference, it is necessary that your reference is marked with the signature of the correct certificate issuer, by your direct supervisor and possibly also by a member of the HR department.


Job reference - analysis of the encryptions and what they mean

A small selection of phrases - and what is actually meant by them:

  • He always showed commitment to employee interests outside the company(= He took part in strikes.)
  • With his sociable nature, he has contributed to improving the working atmosphere (= He has alcohol problems.)
  • He was committed to the interests of his colleagues(= He was a member of the works council.)
  • He always showed empathy for the needs of the workforce(= He was looking for sexual contacts among colleagues.)
  • She was capable and knew how to sell(= An unpleasant employee who lacks willingness to cooperate.)
  • He set about the tasks assigned to him with great zeal (= Despite diligence, he was unsuccessful.)
  • He performed all tasks dutifully and properly(= He was a bureaucrat without initiative.)
  • He was always an understanding superior to his employees(= He had no assertiveness and was not respected.)
  • He often made suggestions to make work easier (= He was lazy and showed little commitment.)
  • But: He often made suggestions to make work easier, which could save production costs(= He helped to make operational processes more efficient.)
  • He was always good for a suggestion for improvement(= He was a know-it-all.)
  • He was able to express his own opinion(= He cannot handle criticism.)
  • He is knowledgeable and has a healthy sense of self-confidence(= He covers up his lack of knowledge by knocking on a proverb.)
  • Our economic situation requires radical restructuring and reorganization measures. For these purely objective reasons, Ms. [...] is leaving at her own request(= She was advised by the employer to leave.)
  • He was always on time(= Otherwise there is not much that can be said about him positively.)
  • He has actively dealt with his colleagues(= He has become violent.)
  • He was a reluctant and correct employee who liked to work alone(= He was a lone fanatic or an outsider)
  • He has worked in his own interests as well as in the company's interests(= There were irregularities.)
  • She was an idiosyncratic and agile employee(= There were irregularities.)
  • He knew how to balance his interests with those of the company.(= It has enriched itself at the company's expense.)
  • In the year [...] there was a significant drop in sales. This trend continued in the current year. For this purely objective reason, Mr. [...] is leaving our service at his own request (= The employer advised him to leave.)
  • She was a demanding and critical employee. (She is self-centered and likes to nag.)
  • She showed impeccable behavior towards her colleagues.(= Although she behaved correctly towards her colleagues, there is no question of the superiors here ...)
  • We wish him every success in the future.(= Maybe in the future he will have the success he missed in the company ...)
  • Your punctuality was exemplary.(= Punctuality is a matter of course in working life. If this point is mentioned separately, she probably had no previous performance.)
  • She coordinated the work of her employees and gave clear instructions.(= She limited herself to delegating and avoided her own work.)
  • He has always performed the tasks assigned to him in his own interest and in the interest of the company.(= He cleverly stole the company.)
  • We parted ways by mutual agreement.(= The self-resignation took place on the initiative of the employer - otherwise the employee would have been officially terminated.)
  • Her extensive education made her a sought-after conversation partner.(= She had long private conversations during working hours.)
  • We confirm that he approached his tasks with diligence, commitment and punctuality.(= Unfortunately, he had nothing to offer professionally.)
  • He practiced a cooperative management style and was therefore very much appreciated by his employees.(= But he could not assert himself.)
  • She is leaving to take on a higher-quality job in another company.(= We did not want to offer her a higher position, or did not trust her to do so.)