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Questions I Couldn’t Answer About Myself, So I Certainly Can’t Answer Them About Someone Else!

April 16, 2010

––––––– worked here for five years and I am pleased to write this letter so that he can find a different job.
• First sentence of a letter of recommendation for an applicant for a job opening at a printing company I managed

I was recently asked to complete an online letter of recommendation forwarded to me by a former student. I had no problem with the first page asking me to rate various qualities such as resilience, creativity, and intellectual curiosity. Then I went to the second page where there was room for longer answers. These were the items I was asked to respond to:

Describe this individual’s most impressive achievement. I’d need to think about this for a while before I could answer it for myself. I could not answer it for my children nor for my husband. How would you answer this for yourself?

In what way could this individual use additional help in his/her development? What kind of development? Social? Emotional? Physical? Intellectual? Creative? Spiritual? Whatever. I didn’t know where to begin to answer this one either. How about you?

If you’re providing a recommendation form to be completed, be sure to read the whole thing. If you’d have to really think about a question, chances are that it would be just about impossible for someone who’s only known you in class to respond meaningfully. I hope you’ll also be understanding, like my student was, if someone says she or he just can’t answer.

Seriously, what’s your most impressive achievement?

My most impressive achievement? You’re looking at them.
• Woman, looking down at her chest, overheard, July 2003 (gratuitous insertion of a breast quotation)

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