NOT FOR YOU: How About Writing Recommendations That Don't Suck?

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Recruiting

Please – stop writing professional recommendations for other people that suck. You know what I'm talking about.

You're writing them like you just sung “Moon River” during your annual prostate checkup. Gals – don't laugh – you're writing recommendations like you've been turned down for NPR voice-over work for being “too mellow”.

The problem, of course, is that you don't write like you talk. You need to amp it up a bit.

Do something original. Here's what I wrote for FOT's own Tim Sackett when he asked me last week for a recommendation to put up on a page to help him land speaking gigs:

Why would you hire Tim Sackett to headline your next event? Look no further than the prose of Eddie Vedder, who once mumbled the following words in the Pearl Jam standard, “Not For You“:

“Restless soul, enjoy your youth…

Like Muhammad hits the truth…

Can't escape from the common rule…

If you hate something, don't you do it too…too…”

If you love the common rule of meetings/conferences – boring speakers with 2500 words plastered on PowerPoint – Tim Sackett is not for you. Look away – he's hideous …

But, if you hate that standard and want a story with some strong challenging of the status quo delivered in

a way that offends 5% of the audience and is memorable in a positive way to the other 95%, Tim Sackett is your guy. Queue up the Pearl Jam (I suggest this cut) for his intro on stage and stop worrying that your next keynote is going to be boring. If you bring Tim in, it won't be.

He'll even drive up in a .

Now – you can love that or hate that, but at least I didn't do what's expected. Tim's going to get a speaking prospect that calls him if he uses this and says, “you're like Eddie Vedder, right?” At which point he'll say, “yeah – but without the hash pipe and liberal views, and I don't mumble.”

And it will be on.

Which means nothing other than he's got somewhere to go that's conversational with the prospect. I just gave Tim a 1 chance to land the Rotary Club luncheon in East Lansing in 2014. Pearl Jam fans are getting #$#ing old.

Same thing if you're giving someone a professional recommendation. Friends don't give friends tired copy on recommendations.

Friends try to do something that praises their friend in an original way.

Stop screwing your professional friends and give them a recommendation they couldn't get somewhere else.

Because you don't suck.

Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He's also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.