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Strategies to get strong Letters of Recommendation

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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Letters of RecommendationStrong recommendation letters are critical to getting in to a top global business school. They can tip the scales towards an acceptance offer, as they provide the admissions committee with:

(a) Insight into your performance and potential for career success, in the eyes of a credible supervisor

(b) Corroborating evidence in terms of the story arc you have built in the rest of your application

So how do you build and present the strongest possible recommendation/s from your supervisor/s

1. Figure out the logistics.

(a) Check the recommendation requirements for each school. Check how many are required; whether they are seeking personal or professional recommendations, or both; understand submission procedures and deadlines.

(b) Give your recommenders ample time. Start working with recommenders 6-8 weeks before the submission deadline, so you have enough time to put together preparation materials, meet with them to request the recommendation and share these materials, and to respond to any questions that they may have.

(c) Explain the submission process to the recommender. Show them how to submit the recommendation, and ensure that they submit it directly. Many business schools have back-end technology which gives them insight into where the recommendation is being uploaded from, so they can tell if it’s being uploaded from the same IP address as your application.

(d) Find the right balance when following up. Make sure you keep track of submissions and deadlines, but find that balance between not being overwhelming or remaining incommunicado with your recommender.


2. Be strategic when choosing a recommender.

(a) Choose a direct supervisor or senior who knows you well, and who has an understanding of your work style and performance on a daily basis. Do not ask the CEO or a Senior VP for a recommendation if they are not in touch with you about your work on a daily basis, even if you have a congenial relationship with them.

(b) Your ideal recommender is someone who:

– knows the value of an MBA or have one themselves

– is your champion – they are extremely supportive of your applying to business school and confident in your future success

– is punctual, so you do not have to spend too much time following up

– has some experience writing recommendations for successful admits, if possible


3. Provide the recommender with a set of preparation materials.

(a) Share background materials that would be helpful, such as your resume that you are using in your application, list of schools you are applying to and their deadlines, application essays, and any relevant workplace documentation.

(b) Share a set of talking points. The recommender should corroborate the content and tone you have written about throughout the application, but use different examples to shed light on a wider range of experiences and strengths.

(c) Get your stories straight. The stories should focus on the recommender’s direct interactions with you, and not be commentary on your third party professional or extracurricular experiences. For each statement he/she makes, request an example, focusing on how you accomplished your task and why it is significant for the organization.

Remember to send each recommender a personalized thank you letter as soon as they have submitted the recommendation, and them posted on your admissions statuses as the decisions start rolling in!

Need help crafting the right recommendation strategy for your application? ReachIvy can help!

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