5 questions on Reference Letters

5 questions on Reference Letters

Five questions for Ulrich Jänicke, cofounder and board member (CEO) of aconso AG, expert for the topic of automation and digital process management in the field of HR.

What are the challenges in HR today when compiling references?

For many companies, preparing a professional work reference is still a tedious process – and comes at a cost for both HR professionals and the employee in question. Lengthy internal coordination processes between the personnel and legal departments require an enormous amount of time and organisational effort. A combination of delays lasting up to six months per reference and a lack of employee-specific input or job-related wording will more often than not increase the likelihood of conflict between the personnel department, the manager and the employee. Added to this is the fact that a work reference is a legal document which means that all phrasing must be absolutely correct in legal terms.

What aspects demand special attention when creating a reference?     

  • Legally watertight wording
  • Personalised, job-specific phrasing
  • Preparation of references within an appropriate time span
  • Good reading flow
  • Clear employee recognition

How can artificial intelligence assist with compiling references, and what are its limits?

Intelligent, automated processes will be indispensable in future for optimising the process of creating a reference. Only by using these will it be possible to minimise the time and organisational effort required from personnel staff.
A reference generator tool makes it quick and easy for HR to compile work references within 30 minutes – legally watertight and tailored to each employee and their job role. By using integrated, automated processes, the relevant departments and decision-makers can easily be brought into the coordination process in the form of an easy-to-operate modular system with a user-friendly interface which also allows managers to compile employee assessments conveniently and quickly.
Critics would say that a machine cannot perform like a human and that a proofreader would still be required to check the automatically-generated reference for readability. But a reference tool can make light work of this final step, too, because this is precisely where artificial intelligence steps in. Reference generator tools are already capable of optimising readability and coordinating individual text components, so a proofreader is no longer necessary.

What elements make up an effective reference generator tool?

  • Integration: Seamless integration of the software into the existing HR and ERP landscape must be guaranteed. This is the only way to make operations that are prone to error (such as inputting master data) run automatically and thus eliminate potential sources of error.
  • Legally secure and easy to read texts: Preparation of a wide range of legally secure text components is essential; these should guarantee a good reading flow and enable the personnel officer to give an individual assessment.
  • Process integration: The smooth integration of the reference tool into the process – with the involvement of all relevant departments and with a clear division of responsibilities and tasks – is another necessary component of an effective reference tool.
  • Flexibility: The tool must offer maximum flexibility for HR and management. These days, mobile access to data and evaluation via a mobile device is a must.

What features should a reference tool have in order to fulfil the requirements of a personnel department and its customers?

Ideally, a reference tool should allow the manager to evaluate an employee with just a few mouse clicks using a pre-defined performance rating scale and to select filter criteria for their professional skills. The personnel manager can then finalise the reference with another single mouse click. The reference tool also creates a covering letter for employee and manager which HR can forward directly together with the reference.

The reference tool will need a few extra features to achieve this, however.

The key here is to build in a broad selection of text components for more personalised assessments, plus automated text modules for good reading flow. The software then composes a legally secure, error-free and fluently worded work reference tailored to the employee’s specific activities. Regular updating of the text components and ongoing reviews of employment case law are essential here, so that personnel administrators need not worry about the legal security of the text components.

An intuitive user interface is a key factor for gaining maximum acceptance by employees, together with simple operation and a smooth work process. One of the major benefits of the reference tool is mobile availability, enabling it to be used whilst away from the office. This opens up potential new uses for the target groups involved in the reference process. For instance, management can carry out appraisals more quickly and more easily. The use of mobile terminal devices greatly shortens the coordination process.

The aim of using a reference tool is, of course, to minimise the workload for all departments involved and to increase the quality of work, thereby saving time and money. Today, artificial intelligence is already making a very significant contribution in this area. Experience shows, for instance, that the use of the appropriate solutions reduces the effort required to compose a reference by up to 75%.


Here you can find more information about the Reference Letter Generator

We are happy to inform you in detail about the possibilities of the aconso Reference Letter Generator individually or in one of our webinars. We are looking forward to hearing from you.


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Ulrich Jänicke aconso AG

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