Letters of recommendation are an integral part of your MBA application that require more work than you might think. We often hear of candidates who ask someone to write the letter, ensure it gets submitted, and call it a day. This can be a big mistake! Your role in the MBA letter of recommendation process should be much more involved than this. See our tips on arming your recommenders to write the best letters possible.
If you haven’t already selected your recommenders, check out our blog on this as well!
1. Share your career aspirations
The more your recommenders know about your short-term and long-term goals, the more they can highlight examples and skill sets that would best demonstrate your ability to succeed in these endeavors.
2. Tell your recommenders what you have discussed/plan to discuss in your essays
Offer them a copy of your essays or at least share the highlights from what you wrote. Beyond your goals, let them know the traits you are highlighting and the success stories you are telling. The idea is for the letter to complement the rest of your application. This means you do not want them to repeat exactly what you are already saying, yet at the same time, you want to make sure there is no conflicting information. If they have a sense of your stories, they will be better equipped to share examples of accomplishments that demonstrate a complementary skill set or touch on an area you were not able to cover in your essays. The more they know about what you are already writing about, the more successful this will be.
3. Remind your recommenders of your key accomplishments
Don’t be shy about reminding them of your successes. This will not only make their lives easier but it will ensure they share the best stories. Your recommenders are busy and it is easy for them to forget details. Take the time to think of the top stories you would like them to recount and remind them of your role in certain projects or assignments.
4. Model the behavior now that you want them to write about later
If you have a skill set your future recommender hasn’t seen yet (especially one that fits with your story), now is the time to let it shine! Take on an extra project, sign up to volunteer within the organization or mentor a junior colleague. Whatever you can do to show your strengths (particularly if you are starting early!) will help ensure they have enough examples to write a glowing letter of recommendation. Keep this in mind when you are at the office or client site at 8 PM and debating whether to leave or burn the midnight oil.
5. Remind them to compare you to other candidates
Just as we advise that your resume and essays should go beyond listing tasks, your recommendations should go beyond recounting what you have done. Successful MBA students are leaders who have differentiated themselves from their peers, going above and beyond what would be expected in the role. One of the best ways to show this is to compare you to your peers and others who have had the job previously.
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We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.
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