When it comes to applying for an MBA program, letters of recommendation play a crucial role in showcasing your qualifications. These recommendations, provided by individuals capable of commenting on your abilities for business school, serve as an invaluable addition to your application. While your essays and personal interviews offer insights into your own perspective, letters of recommendation provide an external viewpoint that can significantly impact the admissions process.
The impact of a recommendation letter cannot be understated. A stellar recommendation has the power to reinforce and strengthen the rest of your application, shedding light on specific details about your professional accomplishments and work experience. In fact, exceptional recommendations have the potential to elevate borderline candidates into the coveted “admit” pile. On the flip side, negative or mediocre recommendations can cast doubt on the carefully constructed image you have presented through your application, undermining an otherwise strong profile.
To ensure you secure outstanding letters of recommendation, here are some valuable tips to consider:
Tip #1: Maintain Consistency. Throughout Your Application Consistency is key. Your recommendations should align with everything you have written about yourself in other parts of your application. It’s crucial to accurately represent your accomplishments without exaggeration. While it’s perfectly acceptable to highlight your achievements, embellishing them can lead to trouble and adversely affect your chances.
Tip #2: Choose Your Recommenders Wisely. The key to exceptional recommendations lies in selecting the right recommenders. Opt for individuals who know you well in a professional capacity, genuinely appreciate your qualities, and can speak to the same points you have highlighted in your essays and statement of purpose. Just as you emphasize your career progression, maturity, interpersonal skills, and leadership potential, your recommenders should do the same. If you lack suitable individuals, begin building relationships with those who can provide valuable insights into your abilities.
Unlike other graduate programs, MBA admissions committees value professional recommendations over academic ones. If the school requires two letters, try to obtain both from professional sources. If three letters are necessary, it’s usually acceptable for one to be from an academic reference. Ideally, one letter should come from your current immediate supervisor. However, if that’s not feasible (e.g., if your supervisor is unaware of your business school plans), a former supervisor can be a suitable alternative. Other viable options, in decreasing order of preference, include an indirect supervisor or manager, current colleague, or former colleague. Regardless of your choice, ensure that the recommender has closely worked with you and can provide detailed insights into your qualifications.
Tip #3: Provide Background Information to Your Recommenders. People appreciate direction, especially when they are busy. While it’s not advisable to write your own recommendations for others to sign, you can certainly provide your recommenders with essential background information that will aid them in crafting compelling letters. Consider sharing the following items:
- Your resume or curriculum vitae: Provide the same version you intend to submit with your application.
- Your statement of purpose: Your recommenders need to understand how you are presenting yourself in your application to create effective letters. If you haven’t finalized your statement of purpose, share a rough outline of your intended content.
- Talking points: If you believe a particular individual can provide insights into a specific project or assignment you’ve undertaken, inform them. These examples can be used to showcase your analytical abilities, quantitative skills, maturity, leadership qualities, and more.
- List of schools: Inform your recommenders about the schools you are applying to and why you chose them.
- List of deadlines: Request recommendations well in advance of deadlines. If you need a recommendation urgently, try to ask in person and explain the time constraint.
Tip #4: Express Gratitude with a Thank You Note. Writing letters of recommendation is a favor, and showing appreciation goes a long way. Sending a thank you note at least two weeks before the deadline demonstrates politeness, gratitude, and respect. Additionally, it serves as a gentle reminder that the letter should have been sent already.
By following these fundamental tips, you can alleviate the stress associated with requesting and receiving recommendation letters. Remember, the power of these recommendations lies in their ability to augment your application, making them a crucial element in your pursuit of an MBA.