Backhanded recommendations

This website highlights ambiguous sentences from letters of recommendation.

  • You will be lucky to get this person to work for you
  • I cannot recommend this person too highly
  • I recommend this candidate with no qualifications
  • Waste no time hiring this person
  • He was fired with enthusiasm
  • Nobody is better than this man
  • I found myself frequently raving about her work
  • I would place his research on the cutting edge
  • I would place this student in a class by herself
  • He has made immeasurable contributions to our firm


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    On the other end of the scale here is, in its entirety, the most effective positive letter of recommendation I’ve ever seen. It was from James Watson when he was director at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where the applicant was working, and I saw it aeons ago when my Ph.D. advisor was on a faculty search committee: “X is already a super scientist and we will do everything possible to keep him here.”

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