August 25, 2022

Letters of Recommendation Tips

Today the Admitify team is sharing tips on your letters of recommendation, from selecting recommenders to prepping them, and a few tips on what not to do.


The letter of recommendation is the only element in which a third party apart from you and the school has an opportunity to weigh in on your qualifications.  This is also the area over which you have the least amount of control so reco letters can have a wildcard effect on your entire application.  Letters of recommendation help the admission committees learn about several areas of your application from another person’s perspective, including your hard or quantitative skills, soft or leadership skills, and your personality or character traits.  The letters can serve to cohesively align with your overall package or can bring up concerns or inconsistencies in the way you portrayed elements of your application.  One element to consider is how your self-proclaimed marketing pitch or handle is accentuated or suppressed by your recommender.  For example, if you are a self-proclaimed technology leader – managing teams and providing vision on long term objectives – and your recommender paints you as the software code architect extraordinaire, the admissions team will have to parse through that inconsistency in your application.


Selecting Recommenders


Selecting recommenders is a potentially time-consuming and challenging part of the application process.  Schools strongly prefer that your primary letter come from your direct current supervisor.  The current supervisor should be the person who can most effectively write about your professional qualifications, character, and leadership potential.  The one exception to this rule is if you have only been in your current job within three months of applying.  In that case, choose your previous manager.  Your subsequent letters preferably will also come from previous supervisors.  However, subsequent letters can be from extracurricular sources.


Preparing Recommenders


Educating or preparing your recommenders is an important step of the process and will depend on your recommender’s background.  For those in industries where the MBA is a standard designation such as consulting, many recommenders may have already gone through the process themselves and familiar with the overall process.  In industries where an MBA is rare, you should spend additional time in prepping your recommenders.  Schedule time with your recommender to share your resume, logistics of the recommendation process for applicable schools, and your goals and reason for attaining an MBA.  Additional information such as your essays, themes such as your marketing handle, or example letters of recommendation can make the process even smoother.


Below are a few tips on what to avoid in letters of recommendation:


  • Not providing concrete examples. This is public enemy number one for letters of recommendation.  The recommender must provide examples of skills, projects, or character traits and not only the general claims.
  • Choose recommenders that do not know your background or work thoroughly. If you choose CEO-level or celebrity-level household names, but the recommender cannot describe their interactions and experiences with you in detail, the letter will not have sufficient content to help the admissions team get to know you better.
  • Write the letter of recommendation yourself. Choose someone that is willing to invest the time to craft a letter for you.  Schools can typically tell if the letter is not genuinely written by someone else.
  • Does not provide any weaknesses or a balanced view on the applicant. Admissions knows that every applicant has their shortcomings, being candid and genuine about them while providing a balanced perspective on the applicant will give admissions a better holistic view of the applicant.


For expert guidance on preparing your letters of recommendation, contact Admitify today!