Letter of Recommendation Concerns!!

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Letter of Recommendation Concerns!!

by mjp9483 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:58 pm
Is it wise to request LORs from international clients (Europe and Asia) that I frequently work with instead of my direct supervisor?

The main reasons I don't want to request a LOR from my direct supervisor is because I can't trust the person to write an accurate and sincere letter and because I don't want the person to find out that I'm applying to grad school. Also, I've been at this job since undergrad (5 years ago) so I don't have any former supervisors to solicit.

Any ideas are greatly appreciated...thanks for the help!

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by essaysnark » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:51 am
You're probably aware that most schools ask for a LOR from current direct supervisor. It's fine to not get a letter from that person, you'll just need to explain why, and why you've chosen the other recommenders (this usually goes in an optional essay though some schools have a field in the online app where you can state this info).

EssaySnark would advise against having both LORs from clients. It's fine if one of them is, but better would be a supervisor, current or past. Ideally both recommenders are people you've worked with closely (6 months or more) within the past three years, and who have been in a position to evaluate your work. One should be professional, one could be from an extracurricular activity such as volunteer work provided that you've had an impact there. EssaySnark does feel that having one work supervisor's rec is important if possible, but it's not mandatory if there are good reasons for choosing the other people and they can offer good insights into your profile.

Good luck with it!
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by Tani » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:56 am
I have no problem with client recommendations in general. In fact, they often have a different perspective than those writing internal recommendations and can therefore add to the picture the school gets of your capabilities. International recommendations can be tricky if the recommender doesn't speak English well, although that can be handled by having the recommender write in his/her native language and using an independent translator.

Having said that, I see two areas for concern in your question. You don't trust your supervisor to be sincere and positive. That's pretty scary. A surprising number of lukewarm or even negative references end up in applicant files and you want to avoid that. Also, you don't want this person to know you are applying. That's a big red flag. Have you considered outside references? What about community activities? Have you done great work as a volunteer for an organization? If your work outside can be related to managerial skills - organization, initiative, communication, etc. - a community reference can be very useful.

A few schools accept - even ask for - peer references. Do you have a great colleague who would be a strong recommender and whom you can trust not to tell your supervisor? Even though schools generally expect to see a recommendation from your supervisor, they do understand that there are situations in which knowledge of your intent to apply would put your job in jeopardy. There is often a place to explain that in the application.
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by essaysnark » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:28 am
Tani Wolff - Kaplan wrote:A few schools accept - even ask for - peer references. Do you have a great colleague who would be a strong recommender and whom you can trust not to tell your supervisor?
Very very few schools want a recommendation from a peer. Stanford is the only one that EssaySnark knows of that specifically requests one. Other schools (HBS) specifically say NOT to get a peer recommendation. Some international programs may be open to it though it's never their first choice. EssaySnark advises against peer recommendations except in those very few (singular?) cases where one is requested by the adcom. All schools want recommendations from people in a supervisory position to the applicant. Candidates put themselves at risk when moving away from this request by the schools.
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by gkumar » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:10 pm
If you can not to get a letter from your current supervisor due to job security rather than performance/trust reasons, how would you phrase your explanation in the optional essay? I am not sure if AdComs accept job security as a proper explanation and would prefer another explanation that might be better (diversify my recommenders with unique perspective, etc).

I can get a former coworker in same firm, who actually helped to hire me, is now a bschool student, although he was never my supervisor.

Can you please provide any sample statements that would address this issue diplomatically and pleasingly to AdCom? Thanks in advance for all your insights.

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by essaysnark » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:06 pm
EssaySnark says, the adcom will have no problem with the fact that you don't want to alert your boss that you might be leaving for bschool. Especially in this economy, adcoms are sensitive to the fact that applicants must be strategic with their careers. There's probably a better way to put it than "job security" but EssaySnark is unable to provide language for this; better to write it yourself. Just keep it simple, explain why you're not getting a rec from the current supervisor, and explain why you chose the alternate person instead. Not a big deal. Of course, if still uncertain, you are welcome to send your draft along and EssaySnark might critique it on the EssaySnark blog.

A "coworker", former or not, is rarely a good choice for a rec. Someone who "helped hire me" might be, since this implies that the person was in a position of authority, provided they actually interviewed you, assessed your skills, and were part of the hiring decision, not that they just referred you into the job. This can't be the only interaction where they were in such a role though; would need to be senior to you and have direct knowledge of workproduct, skills, weaknesses. "Is now a bschool student" implies this person is your age, which isn't automatically reason for disqualification, but does reinforce the notion of "peer." EssaySnark is not convinced this is the right profile/relationships for what the adcoms are looking for in a recommendation.

Good luck with it!
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by obiter dictum » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:53 pm
I need some advice on choosing my recommenders.

my background is as follows

05 - 06 I.B (bulge bracket) 10 mth internship
06 - 08 P.E (top 3 managers) 2 yr Analyst made redundant due to massive drop in fund val
08-10 Founded and sold a business
Currently doing strategy charity work in Africa for USAID

considering my work experience who is best to ask to be a referee of the options below?
Is it...
1: Internship - I have kept in close contact with a supervisor who 1st interviewed me for the internship role and have kept in close contact with her throughout my career to date. She knows my all about my P.E experience, my business, the charity work and all the extra-curric stuff
2: Analyst - My direct line manager was also made redundant and only the M.D remains at the firm now. I have not kept in close contact with the M.D considering he gave me my marching orders. There is no bad blood but hard to remain friendly with the guy who fires you - right?? or should ask my old direct line manager who has taken his golden parachute to retirement?
3: Own business - I can't really right my own reference now can I?
4: Charity work - I could ask my direct supervisor here but he will only be fimilar with my work for just two months work. however in those months I will have completed two huge projects and have worked incredibly closely with the supervisor.
5: Wild Card - My old headmaster ( a Jesuit priest) who first educated me from age 13 and who I have remained in close contact with since leaving school. He would be able to comment on my overall development. I also know he has written letters for other people who got into HBS and LBS and is a very powerful writer.

I need three referees - 2 work and 1 other - has anyone have any comments to help guide me...?

Sorry for the poor grammar and broken english but the end of a LONG week!
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by essaysnark » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:53 pm
Hi obiter dictum,

EssaySnark feels you have a lot to work with and this profile should be appealing to the top programs (when positioned correctly and with a shiny GMAT score of course!).

EssaySnark guesses you're applying to HBS and/or possibly Stanford.

Rule of thumb: Choose recommenders you've worked closely with for at least six months, within the last three years, who were in a position of authority over you and can assess your workproduct.

EssaySnark's first-choice combo of three for HBS:
- old direct line manager at PE firm - EssaySnark likes this since it's the most "traditional" of the recommenders and fits into the "direct supervisor" box the best.
- own business - no can't write own (EssaySnark knows you were kidding) however if you have any big clients (or possibly a partner, though not as good), then they would be ideal - anyone in this category? The successful exit of this business should be a cornerstone of the app (depending on career goals), and getting a LOR from someone involved with you on it in some way would be, in EssaySnark's opinion, a key addition to your pitch.
- charity - this supervisor sounds like a good pick DEPENDING ON YOUR CAREER GOALS (if not in a social venture/nonprofit thing then maybe not quite as strong) -- and, by the time you submit for R1 in October, then wouldn't it be five months of experience? So still a little lightweight in terms of overall duration but geting into the acceptable range, and it sounds like you have a big "impact" story which is so important for HBS. Plus it's the most current, which counts quite a bit.

EssaySnark advises against using the priest,. He wouldn't be able to comment on your workproduct, right? Discussing your "development" isn't nearly as compelling. And, knowing you since you were 13 could be perceived as "family bias" (i.e., someone close to the family would only ever say great things, like if your mom wrote your rec - the adcoms often discount these). EssaySnark is not convinced there's a cause/effect relationship between his recs of your friends and their admissions to those schools. EssaySnark is sure he's a great guy and would write nice things about you, but how much real insight and concrete examples can he offer to the adcom about your skills/abilities in a professional context?

EssaySnark is more inclined towards the internship supervisor over the headmaster if having to choose, but in either case, this type of recommender would need to be positioned as a "mentor" to focus on the ongoing relationship -- and what they can say is somewhat limited. It's tricky for someone to discuss your workproduct in jobs where they weren't working with you. All they can go on are your discussions with them about the jobs. It's more "hearsay" than first-hand reporting. Not as valuable. But, if presented in terms of how he/she mentored/coached you, worked with you on your career path, advised you on the business perhaps, then maybe can offer value. So this could be a viable third rec for HBS if one of those identified above didn't play out for you.

Good luck with it!
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