Tips for Picking Great MBA Recommenders

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Mar 11, 2019

Although Round 1 applications arent due until the fall, its definitely not too early to start thinking about whos going to support you as you pull together your materials. Your recommenders in particular will play a critical role in the process. So how do you ensure you ask the right people to write letters on your behalf?

The majority of programs require two recommendation letters and usually prefer one of those to be from a direct manager. However, almost all schools will waive that requirement if you think your position (or possible promotion or bonus) would be adversely affected by informing your employer of your intention to go back to school. If thats the situation youre in, simply note it briefly in the Additional Information or Optional Essay space.

You also may be in a position where you dont have just one direct manager. In that case you have an option of who to approach. In both this scenario and when considering who will write your second letter, you shouldnt underestimate the importance of asking the most appropriate people.

Managers (Usually) Make Great MBA Recommenders

Adcoms greatly prefer to hear from managers and co-workers who know you well, both personally and professionally. Theyre looking for more insight into what makes you tick, how you perform in groups, and what your potential is for the future. They are rarely impressed or swayed by a recommenders title or alumni statuswhat they care about is whether or not you will be an asset to the program because of what youve achieved to date.

One of the biggest mistakes we see applicants make is asking their companys CEO who they barely know or may have never even met in person to write their recommendation letter. If your recommender cannot go into specifics about your accomplishments or provide detailed anecdotes that highlight your positive personality traits, youve just missed a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.

We suggest taking some time to list out all of the people you could ask to write a letter of support for your MBA applications. Who are your biggest cheerleaders at work? Who would jump at the chance to help you get into your dream school? Who would feel like they, too, got in to Program X if you were accepted? Those are the people to focus in on, because they will go above and beyond to write a stellar and most importantly, memorable reference.


choosing MBA recommenders

Until next time,

The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting


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