What is the deciphered word NIW

Job reference formulations: 200 codes decoded

According to labor law, the job reference must always be “true” and “benevolent”. This means that negative job reference formulations are prohibited. But not hidden criticism (so-called "Kassiber"). As a result, a testimony language has established itself - with numerous secret codes, hidden notes and phrases that may sound nice, but mean the exact opposite. We will show you what the true meaning of individual job reference formulations is and how applicants can easily decipher the codes in the reference ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Job reference formulations grades

You will always find hidden notes in all job reference formulations. In total, you give the overall assessment. You can recognize grades by words such as “always” or “to the fullest” or “to the fullest” satisfaction. The alarm bells should go off when you read the word “trying”. That NEVER means anything good, but that the person was a sneak.

Job reference grades: very good to unsatisfactory

Deciphering job reference grades is relatively easy. The codes always follow the same formula. The meaning of the formulations in certificate German in plain text:

"He / she fulfilled his / her duties ..."

  • Note 1: "... always to the fullest satisfaction."
  • Grade 2: "... to the fullest / always to the full satisfaction."
  • Note 3: "... to full satisfaction."
  • Grade 4: "…to satisfaction."
  • Grade 5: "... by and large to our satisfaction."
  • Grade 6: "... He / she made an effort."

Often it is only nuances in the wording that distinguish an excellent testimony from a verbal execution. Therefore, here are even more examples of notes and secret codes in the job reference formulations.

Job reference formulations: Very good

  • “He / she always carried out his / her tasks independently with the utmost care and accuracy.
  • “He / She achieved outstanding work results and showed exceptional commitment.
  • "He / she met expectations in every way and in the best possible way."
  • "He / she knew how to convince and motivate colleagues in the best possible way."
  • "When dealing with superiors and employees, he / she was always courteous, friendly and correct."
  • "He / she was extremely reliable."
  • "He / she has excellent and well-founded specialist knowledge."
  • "We were extremely satisfied with the services in every respect."
  • "He / she met expectations in every way and in the best possible way."
  • "He / she leaves us at his / her own request, which we deeply regret."

Job reference formulations: Good

  • "He / She did the tasks with the utmost care and accuracy."
  • "He / she always worked reliably and extremely conscientiously."
  • "He / she achieved the best work results and showed a high level of commitment."
  • "He / she always showed above-average quality of work and initiative."
  • "His / her relationship with superiors, employees and customers was always impeccable."
  • "He / she has met the expectations in every respect and in the best way."

Job reference formulations: Satisfactory

  • "He / she did the assigned work systematically and satisfactorily."
  • "He / she worked conscientiously and reliably."
  • "He / she was careful and precise at work."
  • "He / she showed commitment and initiative."
  • "He / she has solid specialist knowledge."
  • "His / her behavior towards employees and superiors was exemplary."
  • "He / she met expectations in every respect."
  • "We were always satisfied with his / her performance."

Job reference formulations: Sufficient

  • "He / she was able to complete the tasks assigned to us to our satisfaction."
  • "He / She has properly done all the assigned work."
  • "He / she met our expectations."
  • "He / she showed no insecurities in the execution of his / her tasks."
  • "His / her work results met the requirements."
  • "He / she did all the tasks with care and accuracy."
  • "He / she was always interested in the matter."
  • "Overall, his / her personal behavior was impeccable."
  • "We were satisfied with his / her performance."

Job reference formulations: Inadequate

  • "He / she has tried to meet the requirements."
  • "He / she has worked within the scope of his abilities."
  • "He / she tried to work reliably."
  • "He / she showed he was up to the stress."
  • "He / she did the work diligently and with the will to finish it on time."
  • "He / she has generally done all tasks with care and accuracy."
  • "He / she generally met the requirements."
  • "He / she met our expectations as far as possible."
  • "He / she was usually successful."
  • "He / she showed, following guidance, diligence and ambition."
  • "His / her behavior was blameless."
  • "He / she showed great interest in our company."
  • "He / she leaves us by mutual agreement."

Job reference formulations meaning

Whether it is a bad job reference or a positive job reference is not only revealed by the certificate wording of the respective grades. Such secret messages are mainly in the qualified job reference. In contrast to the simple job reference, it contains an assessment and assessment of the employee's performance and social behavior. In addition to important soft skills, this also includes behavior towards superiors, colleagues and customers.

The danger is greatthat employees believe the first time they read the job reference that the HR manager or boss is their biggest fan. Not at all! Some fine words hide a bad judgment. In your job reference, therefore, pay particular attention to the "performance assessment" and assessment of social behavior ("behavioral assessment") as well as the so-called "closing formula". Here are some deciphered formulations in plain text.

performance evaluation

"It quickly became popular with customers."
Meaning: "He made too many and too quick concessions."

"He tried to meet the requirements."
Meaning: "The employee was a zero."

"She set about the tasks assigned to her with great enthusiasm."
Meaning: "But don't ask how chaotic that was!"

"She was committed within the scope of her abilities."
Meaning: "Unfortunately, she is completely incapable."

"Her punctuality made her a good example."
Meaning: "Unfortunately there was nothing more than punctuality."

"She knew how to successfully delegate all tasks."
Meaning: "She was lazy and skilfully passed the work on to colleagues."

"He showed understanding and interest in his work."
Meaning: "He just didn't work."

"He was always an understanding superior to his employees."
Meaning: "He was not assertive and had no authority."

"She did all the tasks dutifully and properly."
Meaning: "She only did what she was told and showed no initiative."

"It essentially met our expectations."
Meaning: "His performance was simply poor."

"He had specialist knowledge and a healthy level of self-confidence."
Meaning: "He made up for inadequate specialist knowledge with one big mouth."

"He solved all the tasks for his own benefit and in the interests of the company."
Meaning: "He committed theft and was noticed by serious offenses."

"He was committed to the interests of his colleagues both inside and outside the company."
Meaning: "He was on the works council and was involved in a union."

Behavioral assessment

"He has specialist knowledge and healthy self-confidence."
Meaning: "The guy is more arrogant than a diva."

"She showed a good empathy for the concerns of the workforce."
Meaning: "She flirted more than she worked."

"He got on well with his superiors."
Meaning: "He is a follower and adapts everywhere."

"His sociability helped improve the working atmosphere."
Meaning: "He liked to drink a schnapps while he was working."

"He was capable and able to express his opinion."
Meaning: "He cannot take any criticism."

"She showed a refreshing way of dealing with colleagues and superiors."
Meaning: "She is cheeky and has no manners."

"She was very capable and knew how to sell well."
Meaning: "She was an impertinent self-important woman."

"She had a comprehensive understanding of the concerns of the employees."
Meaning: "She is homosexual or lesbian."

"His behavior towards colleagues and superiors was always exemplary."
Meaning: "He had problems with his boss." (Because he is only mentioned after the colleagues)

"He was a sociable and outgoing colleague."
Meaning: "Nobody could stand him."

Closing formula

"He / she leaves us at his / her own request."
Meaning: "He / she leaves no gap."

"He / she leaves us by mutual agreement."
Meaning: "He / she anticipated a termination."

"We wish him all the best and health."
Meaning: "Warning, he's ailing!"

"We wish him all the best for the future, especially success."
Meaning: "He had no success here."

"We wish him / her all the best for the future, including success."
Meaning: "He / she did not have any success here."

Employment reference code table: 200 formulations in plain text

Whether performance appraisal, behavioral appraisal or closing formula: The most important grades, negative messages and secret codes in the job reference - and their true meaning. Download here for free:

Job reference formulations PDF

Job reference closing formula: Beware of the trap!

The best comes at the end - or not: There are only two to three sentences at the end of the job reference. The so-called closing formula. But it is becoming more and more important. For two reasons:

  • The final formula forms the final impression.
    It can reinforce and refine the previously positive overall impression and round off the overall grade. Or, like a huge BUT, question everything before and let the previous statements seem like irony.
  • The closing formula is voluntary.
    The final formula does not belong to the use of testimony, decided the Federal Labor Court. The employer is not obliged to end the job reference with it. Their absence is therefore regularly rated as a negative sign.

How is the closing formula structured?

The structure of final formulas in the job reference is divided into four parts and sections:

  • Reason for separation
    Who initiated the dismissal or the end of the employment relationship? For example, the phrase "At your own request ..." means that the employee has given notice himself. “By mutual consent…”, however, suggests a termination by the employer.
  • Thanks for the cooperation
    Normally, the company thanks for the cooperation and the achievements of the employee so far. Depending on the formulation, this can be particularly positive. If there is no thanks, this will be interpreted negatively.
  • Regret the breakup
    The same applies to regrets about the separation from the employee. Companies are reluctant to let a good employee go and say this in the closing formula. If there is no expression of regret, the employee does not seem to have been particularly convincing. It wasn't too popular either.
  • Wishes for the future
    At the end of the day, the departing employee is usually wished all the best. Here, too, caution is advised with the formulation. If you wish the employee “health and success” it means that he has not had either of these before.

Job reference formulations Examples: Negative statements!

Please pay attention to the following final formulas and formulations. Which one works better for you?

Mr. Müller is leaving the company at his own request. We very much regret his departure and thank him for his consistently good and dedicated work. We wish you continued success and all the best, both professionally and privately.

Mr. Müller leaves the company by mutual agreement on DD.MM.YYYY. We regret this and at the same time thank you for his cooperation. Furthermore, we wish you every success professionally and personally.

Despite the superficial similarity, you can quickly see which closing formula increases your chances of applying: The second closing formula only sounds nice, but it is not. When evaluating the formulations and grades in the certificate language, pay particular attention to:

  1. The intensity
    The most important screw employers turn when it comes to closing formulas is the intensity of the statement. Often it is only individual words that determine whether it is a “very good” report or a “mediocre” grade. Terms such as "very, particularly, great, always or always" are decisive. Positive expressions such as “committed”, “motivated” or “successful” also enhance the certificate.
  2. The choice of words
    Sentences that seem positive sometimes have a tough job between the lines. If, for example, an employee is wished “good luck”, this has a nice and encouraging effect. In fact, it is a sign that if you are not lucky enough, you will not be successful.
  3. The sentece structure
    One and the same word can have a completely different meaning in different places in the sentence. “We wish you continued success” or “We wish you continued success” looks almost the same - but means the opposite: The first sentence suggests that the employee was successful in the company and that this will be the case in his new job. The second formulation alludes to the fact that it has not been successful so far.

Job reference formulations sample: Very good

If you can write your job reference yourself or want to compare your reference with another: Here you will find a sample job reference that consistently corresponds to the grade “very good”. Only the soft skills were rated “good”. But that makes it more believable. You can download the pattern as a PDF here for free:

Download job reference sample

New encryptions and codes in the certificate

Recently you have found new codes and secret messages in job references, which can hardly be recognized at first sight. There is not always bad will behind it. Sometimes it is simply ignorance or ignorance. In the meantime, however, you must apply with the certificate in the appendix. You should therefore pay attention to these new job reference formulations:

Emphasis on the unimportant

Pay attention not only to how your performance is being judged, but which ones too. The more unimportant details are there, the worse the testimony. This applies even more to things that are taken for granted, such as the “economical use of office supplies” or “always polite manners”.

Wrong order

Twisting the hierarchical order is also a nasty trick. If it says in the job reference: "He / she cultivated impeccable behavior towards colleagues, customers and superiors", this is a secret code for: "He had problems with authorities." The same applies if subordinate tasks are listed first, but higher tasks only on Appear at the end.

Essential evaluation is missing

Everyone would expect care and accuracy from a controller. If you want to give such employees a bad grade, you often leave out the crucial qualification. So also pay attention to what is NOT in the certificate (see video).


Another nasty job reference formulation is exaggeration.Example: "He / she had an exceptionally brilliant way of sharing his / her knowledge with colleagues." Of course, in plain language this means pure irony and the exact opposite: "He / she was a pedantic smartass."


You should be prudish if you find a phrase in your testimony that sounds positive with “not”, “no” or “never”. Example: “His punctuality gave no cause for complaint.” Sounds praiseworthy - but it isn't. If there was really no cause for complaint, it wouldn't be worth mentioning. But that's how it stands - and consciously wakes sleeping dogs.


This technique is not immediately recognizable for the layperson. There are standards in the certificate language and certificate codes. For example: "His / her relationship with superiors, colleagues and customers was always exemplary." If you omit part of it ("customers" - exception: you actually never had anything to do with customers), the job reference formulations means that you are exactly had problems with it.

Passive formulations

One expects personal initiative from service providers. Passive formulations indicate the opposite: Here someone only acted on instructions and was otherwise passive and lazy. Examples: "Mr. ... / Ms. ... the tasks ... were assigned." / "He / she worked for us as ..." / "He / she was used for the following activities: ..." Even if that is factually correct, it is urgent does not make an overly committed impression on the reader.

Labor law: which certificate language is prohibited?

There are more than 10,000 testimony processes at German labor courts every year. You can legally defend yourself against most of the formulations. Exception: If misconduct - for example infidelity or theft - is proven, this may be mentioned. Otherwise there are some rights and judgments for employees with the certificate codes.

Important judgments on the job reference

  • Employment references must be at least "satisfactory".
    The employer must justify poorer certificates, but the burden of proof for a “good” or “very good” certificate lies with the employee (BAG judgment, 9 AZR 584/13).
  • What is taken for granted does not belong in the job reference.
    Anyone who emphasizes self-evident - for example, the safe use of MS Word in the secretariat - subtly creates a bad impression, motto: There was nothing more (Regional Labor Court Cologne, Az .: 9 Ta 325/10).
  • Blunt hints are not permitted.
    The job reference read: "We are happy to be available to any future employer at XY with regard to inquiries about the quality of the work done for us." That smells like secret criticism. The Herford Labor Court had the wording deleted (2 Ca 1502/08).
  • Crazy signature is prohibited.
    In this particular case, the boss's scrawly signature did not resemble his usual signature. “Inadmissible”, ruled the Hamm Regional Labor Court (Az 4 Ta 118/16). The signature must be similar to the usual one. Only in this way is the authenticity of the job reference beyond doubt.

This is how you defend yourself against a bad testimonial

If your reference is incomplete or below average (worse than grade “satisfactory”), you can reject the reference and request a new one. You do not have to accept misleading or contradicting job reference formulations as well as spelling errors. You can dispute all of this.

However, you shouldn't wait too long: The right to corrections to the job reference expires after 15 months at the latest. Until then you have three options:

  • Direct approach
    Talk to the boss directly about it. Employers in small and medium-sized companies in particular often do not know the meaning of the reference language themselves. Asking for correction can quickly resolve the problem. Job reference alternatives are otherwise a job description.
  • Written objection
    If the correction is a long time coming or if the employer is unreasonable, you should formulate a written objection. In it you list exactly the passages that you complain about and suggest alternative formulations.
  • Legal action
    If, despite a written request, no correction is made, you have the right to submit an action to correct the certificate three weeks after receiving your reference. However, the burden of proof lies with you as long as the certificate is not worse than average grade 3.

TIP: Please never falsify the job reference! This corresponds to a forgery of documents and can result in severe and expensive penalties.

[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]