December 18, 2018

Last Minute Letter of Recommendation Tips

Last Minute Letter of Recommendation Tips

Whether you dragged your feet in asking for an LOR or your recommender has had too many other things on his/her plate, you might find yourself in a crunch to get your letters submitted in time. Do not panic. Even with limited time, there are some clear steps you can take to ensure that your recommendations shine.

Remember, letters of recommendation are an integral part of your MBA application and may require more work than you might think. Often, we see candidates ask someone to write a letter, ensure it gets submitted, and call it a day. This can be a big mistake. Your role in the LOR process should be more involved than this.

We advise taking some key steps now.

1) Arm your recommender with key information. 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) Remind your recommenders of your key accomplishments and provide them with some thoughts on areas you would love to see covered. Do not be shy about selling yourself; this will not only make their lives easier, but it will ensure they share the best stories. Your recommenders are busy (especially during the holidays!) 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 these.

3) Share your application by offering them a copy of your essays or an overall summary. 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 have already said. At the same time, you want to make sure there is no conflicting information. Perhaps they can share another example that demonstrates a complementary skill set or touches on an area you were not able to cover in your essays. The more they know about what you are already saying, the more likely they are to write something that supports that.

4) If possible, set up an in-person meeting or a conference call. Bring a written document to this meeting (or send it ahead of time) that includes the items discussed above. In this meeting you can briefly go over the information you have gathered.

5) Remind your recommenders to compare you to other candidates. Just as we advise that your resume and essays 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.

6) Thank your recommender in advance and let them know how grateful you are. Do not forget your recommenders as you finalize your holiday gifting. Nothing extravagant is needed or recommended, but a thoughtful thank you gift can go a long way.

7) Finally, ask each recommender if you can do anything to help them or provide them with any additional information. Remember, be appreciative and not demanding. This is a favor and while you may have many needs, approach them graciously.

Unsure of what to hand over to the recommender or how to start the conversation? Personal MBA Coach is here to help with all aspects of the application process!

If you would like individual and personal support, please find information about Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive packages or contact me to learn how I can help! As a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate, I have been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 11 years. Email me today at: