Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

I wish I could blog about the weather here in New York lately. I must say, I believe continuous rain for two weeks in June to be completely unethical!

However, I’m distracted from the slow drip by other concerns. I’m on constant “lay-off” watch these days, closely monitoring not only my job situation, but that of my friends and family. It’s a shaky time in the employment world and I want to help those closest to me about as much as I want to help myself. So what to do when asked to write a job recommendation…for a friend I don’t actually recommend?

Personally, my desire to keep everyone happy (including myself) is pretty strong, and I tend not to think that honestly is always the best policy. Still, when friends request a recommendation letter, they’re asking you to be part of an agreement where your credibility is on the line. It’s a bit like acting as a co-signer – and I have to be careful when to sign, right?

The best solution I’ve come up with thus far is a polite, friendly and easy-to-swallow reason to decline, “I know so much about you as my friend but so little about you as an employee; I really don’t think my recommendation would have any value. And I hear that a vague recommendation can work against you!”

Am I lying? Should I be more honest? Less honest? I welcome your input — let me know if you have a (better) clue how to handle such an awkward situation.  

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