Recommendation letters are documents written by current and/or past supervisor (and, in some cases, clients and other colleagues) to support your candidacy for business school. These evaluations carry a great deal of weight because they are made by professionals who are in a unique position to judge your potential in business school and in your career field. Your letters will give credibility to the things you say in your essays and resume, and in addition convey the support of older and more experienced professionals in your field. Recommendation letters give the admission committee an idea of your accomplishments, skills, personality and vision, but from a more evaluative perspective. The following are some tips from our recommendation manual to get you started. For more advice, you can directly contact us.

Function of the Recommendations: Recommendations are primarily used to communicate an outside perspective of your greatest strengths, including your skills knowledge, experience, vision and personality.

Tips from our Recommendations Manual

1. Whom to ask

  • Direct supervisor – the person who supposedly knows you best in a professional setting and can evaluate your professional attributes
  • Someone else from work who has observed you from a different perspective
  • A team leader from a project you worked on
  • A satisfied client
  • An indirect supervisor (e.g. your boss’s boss)
  • A professor – only if you graduated recently and had or still have a strong relationship with the professor. But take care that most MBA applicants do not use professors as recommenders.
  • A client you have serviced
  • Someone involved in an extracurricular activity with you, say a volunteer coordinator, etc.

2. Critical Criteria to use when choosing recommenders

  • They must know you well. Detail is critical to a good recommendation, so recommenders should be able to tell stories and anecdotes about you to back up their claims.
  • They must think very highly of you. A recommendation is not helpful unless it is almost 100% positive. A noncommittal letter is as bad as a negative letter.
  • They must have credibility. Recommenders should be in a position to evaluate you without too much bias (not your spouse or other family members, not your best friend from high school, etc.).

3. What to bring to a meeting with your recommender

  • List of your accomplishments that the recommender is in a position to write about
  • Forms from the schools that list the characteristics they are asking about.
  • You should write down in advance what activities or responsibilities you have had that demonstrate each of the characteristics
  • Your future plans and goals (as long as it is okay to discuss these with your recommender)
  • Questions for your recommenders. What do they think is your most outstanding skill? Your best accomplishment? Your excellence in comparison to others in a similar position?

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