Recommenders to Avoid
There are a lot of people in your life who might give you a surprisingly good recommendation, no matter their station. While bosses and professors are the go-to choice, colleagues, clients, and mentors can all speak to the quality of your work, your talent, and your effort in general.
However, there are some people you'll want to avoid asking.
People who ask you to write the recommendation. It doesn't matter if they just don't have the time or if they don't know what to say. The recommendation needs to have their voice and insight, not yours, whether they sign it or not. If they get a follow-up call, they need to know what they "said" and have ready information about your performance.
Family members or friends. If you work for your dad or your best friend, that might be a different story, but either way you want to avoid a tone of casual familiarity with a recommender. Target people who can speak to your capacity for professionalism and who won't seem swayed by personal feelings.
People who don't know enough about you. While getting a recommendation from the most senior tenured professor or the CEO might seem like the best way to go, it won't work if they don't know enough about you. Have you spoken to them personally outside of class? Do you contribute in class enough? Do they know exactly what you do at the company and how well you do it? Have they ever evaluated your work or spoken with you face-to-face? Knowing your voice, personality, work philosophy, and conduct can all make a difference in the recommendation. Make sure it sounds like they're familiar with both you and your work.
Someone who's hard to get a hold of. Everyone has that supervisor, former boss, client, or teacher who surfaces every six months to answer all their emails at once. Beware this person. If they do agree to write a recommendation you might find yourself emailing them frantically closer to the deadline with no result in sight.
Index of letter of recommendation templates