Wrangling Letters of Recommendation for your MBA

December 14, 2012

General

So, round two deadlines are quickly approaching, and everyone is busy trying to wrangle letters of recommendation for business school. We’ve been talking about the process of getting letters of recommendation for school, and Betsy Massar at Poets & Quants has written a post on just that topic.

Wrangling Great Recommendations” starts off by letting you know that it does not have to be too late to get great letters of recommendation for your application. In fact, “if you plan and execute right, the amount of time remaining should be reasonable.”

Messar’s big piece of advice is: “Don’t overthink it.” Not all letters have to be stellar and perfectly glowing: “If all the recommenders say that the applicant is wonderful for the same reasons, or if the student looks like a demi-god,” it might not seem as authentic.

However, you still want letters to be specific. Here is where you play a big role:

“You might review the recommendation form and jot down relevant anecdotes in which you demonstrated the competencies in question. Specific stories will help make you come alive in the process, and your recommender will appreciate the information.”

She also emphasizes that, when it really come to these letters of recommendation, “Close is better than famous.”

“If you have a choice between Bill Gates, who is willing to write you a letter because he is a very distant family friend, and your direct supervisor with whom you work day in and day out, choose your direct supervisor. The person writing you a letter of recommendation should know you personally and know you well.”

In the end, you definitely don’t want to write your letters of recommendation for yourself, but you do want to make sure that you are providing lots of details and relevant examples to those writing the letters of recommendation for you. For example, you should definitely let your recommenders know why you want to go to business school.

The post provides very helpful examples for how you might go about providing sensible and relevant information to your recommenders, even going so far as to offer advice for how to approach the topic of that dreaded word: weaknesses.

Have you already gotten all of your letters of recommendation for your application or do you still have a few more to wrangle? Deadlines are fast approaching for MBA programs in DC, but if you’re careful, you won’t be too late.

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