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Letter of Recommendation....how long should it be...?

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Letter of Recommendation....how long should it be...? Post Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:36 pm
3 quick ques on letter of recommendation

1) If there is no word limit/page limit specified, how long should it be.?

2) How detailed should the recommender be while giving examples.? If there are multiple examples for a ques, should he mention one or more ?

3) How should the recommender answer weakeness question.? Should he go all out or does it have to be a subtle version. Pls mention few examples which are acceptable and some examples of weaknesses which (though true) could harm the applicant.

Thx.

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Post Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:20 pm
At the risk of being hopelessly trite, letters should be like bathing suits - short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the subject. Most schools have their own format. If your school does not specify length, I would compare recommendation length to the word limits specified in their application essays. Schools that allow 1500 word essays are more likely to be receptive to long recommendations than are those that specify 500 word essays.

Examples should be as personal and concrete as possible. "Joe was a terrific assistant" is not nearly as helpful as "Joe increased sales in his group by 26%." Examples should be from the writer's direct experience. Comparison's are good Here too, "Jenny is among the top 5% of people who have worked in this group" is stronger than "Jenny is dynamite." As long as there is space, the recommender can, and probably should, mention more than one example, provided of course each example carries enough specifics to make the point.

For examples of the weakness question check out Richard Montauk's book, How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs. You can find it in almost any bookstore or library. It gives many fine examples of successful essays to top schools. The key to addressing "weaknesses" and "mistakes" is to be direct and non-apologetic. The writer needs to show that you recognize and have learned from and corrected (or are working on correcting) the weakness. The weakness shouldn't be terminal (e.g. ethical issues or inability to work with people) and ideally it should be in an area that continued business education can address.

Good luck,

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Post Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:28 pm
Thanks Tani. These are some wonderful inputs.

Also, would it make sense for me to check with the school on what is the acceptable length (word limits/pages) for a LOR.?




Tani Wolff - Kaplan wrote:
At the risk of being hopelessly trite, letters should be like bathing suits - short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the subject. Most schools have their own format. If your school does not specify length, I would compare recommendation length to the word limits specified in their application essays. Schools that allow 1500 word essays are more likely to be receptive to long recommendations than are those that specify 500 word essays.

Examples should be as personal and concrete as possible. "Joe was a terrific assistant" is not nearly as helpful as "Joe increased sales in his group by 26%." Examples should be from the writer's direct experience. Comparison's are good Here too, "Jenny is among the top 5% of people who have worked in this group" is stronger than "Jenny is dynamite." As long as there is space, the recommender can, and probably should, mention more than one example, provided of course each example carries enough specifics to make the point.

For examples of the weakness question check out Richard Montauk's book, How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs. You can find it in almost any bookstore or library. It gives many fine examples of successful essays to top schools. The key to addressing "weaknesses" and "mistakes" is to be direct and non-apologetic. The writer needs to show that you recognize and have learned from and corrected (or are working on correcting) the weakness. The weakness shouldn't be terminal (e.g. ethical issues or inability to work with people) and ideally it should be in an area that continued business education can address.

Good luck,

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Post Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:50 am
You can ask, but I doubt that they will have an answer. Your recommender should be able to judge how long a recommendation he/she would be happy to receive if looking to evaluate a potential hire.

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