Service references and formulations

Because many companies use service references as a valuable indication of the applicant’s character and their performance, the importance of the references must not be overlooked. What your reference may contain and what not and how to read it correctly, we explain to you.

Main function of the certificate of service

The reference letter serves as proof of your past employment and a future employer as a source of information about your skills and qualifications.

Simple reference letter

This is purely a confirmation of employment that provides information about the type and duration of employment. Duration means the beginning and the end of the employment relationship.

Example: Mr. XY, born on …, in …, worked in the department … as … from … to …

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For example, it is irrelevant whether you were off duty at the end of your employment relationship or whether you took a vacation. Parental leave and sick leave are also irrelevant and do not belong in the certificate.

If the employment relationship has been terminated by the employer, then this is not to be mentioned in the certificate. The indication that it was a dismissal on the part of the employer does not exclude a dismissal and would make it more difficult to get a new job. If you give notice, however, this can be stated in the certificate in your favor.

Example: Ms. XY leaves the company at her own request for … to advance professionally.

The type of your service must be described in such a way that it is understandable for the future employer and provides insight into the scope of duties.

Example: Ms. XY worked in various functions in our company. These include: …

Qualified service certificate

In addition to personal data and job descriptions, the qualified certificate contains additional information such as performance and behavioral assessments.

The core of the certificate is the position description and should be formulated as meaningfully as possible. Depending on the position, information on the scope of responsibility, powers of attorney, and competencies are important. The more responsible the activity, the more comprehensively it has to be described.

The performance appraisal contains assessments of skills and knowledge and the so-called satisfaction formula (e.g., “to our complete satisfaction”).

Example of a very good assessment: Mr. XY was characterized by a very high work ethic.
Example of a good assessment: Mr. XY was characterized by a high work ethic.

Social behavior must also be assessed in a good, qualified reference. A summary picture of your characteristics and your overall operational behavior is given here.

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Example of a very good assessment: “His behavior towards colleagues and superiors was always exemplary.”
Example of a satisfactory assessment: “His behavior towards supervisors and colleagues was impeccable.”

The final wording should not be missing either. A good reference letter includes thanks and regret – their absence would diminish the value of the positive statements made above and make a negative assessment.

Very good example: “We thank him for his exceptional performance and the pleasant cooperation. We very much regret losing this excellent employee …”
Satisfactory example: “We thank her for her performance and regret her departure.”

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