It’s easy to overlook your recommendations for your MBA application, especially when you are so focused on scoring well on the GMAT, figuring out which schools to apply to, and writing your essays. After all, it’s one of the few things that is out of your hands when it comes to your application package. Or is it? Let’s take a look at one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to business school recommenders:
One of the more frequent discussion topics on business school message boards has to do with who should be your recommender. Who would be a good person? Is it ok if isn’t your direct manager? What if your recommender just left the company? Can person x be a recommender? While these are all important questions to think through, the biggest mistake applicants make when it comes to recommenders is not preparing them correctly! A well-prepared recommender will represent your application much better than one who is unprepared, but who might seem like the “right” person to use.
So, what is the best way to prepare your recommender? When asking someone to recommend you, you should always provide them with a package that lists the things you want them to talk about and instructions to make it simple. A sample package might include:
- Introduction letter
- Why you want to get an MBA
- List of perceived strengths
- List of accomplishments
- Short and long term goals
- School breakout: deadline, site for submission, login/password required, specific questions from each school
How about an example introduction letter? Try something like this:
First, thank you so much for taking the time to serve as a recommender for my business school applications. I know this represents a significant time commitment for you (and one with firm deadlines!) and it means so much to me that you’ve agreed to do this.
The recommendation is a very important part of my application package. The school will use your recommendation to see if you agree with my personal assessment, to understand my character, and to find out how I work. Your view of my potential will get special attention from the admissions committee. Please remember that business school recommendations are very different from recommendations for normal jobs. Many, many candidates are applying for a few hundred places at the school. Few applicants are granted an interview, which is usually very short. It’s also very rare that the admissions committee calls a recommender. Therefore, a well-written, well-organized recommendation, usually about 2 pages long, is a necessary component of a strong application package.
I am applying to 4-6 schools, and each school will have a slightly different set of criteria for your recommendation. You might want to write a general letter and then making any slight adjustments as necessary for each school.
Thanks again and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.
So with this as a start to your recommender’s packet, you will be well on your way to have a well prepared recommender who will be ready to help you put your best self forward.
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