A reader writes:
I work for a small business, 9 total including 2 CEOs and myself. I am the top performer in the company, the only system expert, and considered the operational "backbone."
My boss is a genius, but she is an abusive bully. She also hates me. I'll be honest, I am not the easiest one to manage. If I see a problem that will cost the company too much money and possibly our reputation, I'll be direct about my concerns often with no sugar-coating. I have acknowledged my weaknesses and have made considerable efforts to change. My boss, on the other hand, is still the same abusive bully.
I am planning to apply for grad school in the next few weeks. How do I get my boss to write a letter of recommendation for me? Even though she hates me, I work for her at $20,000 less than my worth, I am very reliable, and she may not be able to replace me exactly. Although I feel she owes me, I still do not know how to approach her.
I wouldn't ask her for one at all. You want your recommendations to come from your strong supporters, people who can really make a case for you.
Even if she agrees to write you the letter, it doesn't sound likely that it'll be more than lukewarm, and lukewarm letters can be damning. "She works for me for less than she's worth and she's reliable" doesn't exactly make a glowing recommendation.
You want your recommendations coming from someone who will really go to bat for you, arguing your case for you.
Find someone else to recommend you.