Great MBA Recommenders: Pick the Right Person for the Job

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Jul 25, 2022

Although Round 1 applications aren’t due until the fall, the time is now to start thinking about who will 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? Today we’ll explain how to identify great MBA recommenders for your b-school application.

The majority of programs require two recommendation letters, and they prefer one to be from a direct manager. However, almost all schools will waive that requirement if you think informing your employer of your plans to return to school would adversely affect your position (or possible promotion or bonus). If that’s your situation, you can note it briefly in the “Additional Information” or “Optional Essay” space.

You also may be in a position where you don’t have just one direct manager. In that case, you have a choice of whom to approach. In this scenario and when considering who will write your second letter, don’t underestimate the importance of asking the most appropriate people.

So, who are not great MBA recommenders?

Adcoms vastly prefer to hear from managers and co-workers who know you well, both personally and professionally. They’re looking for more insight into what makes you tick, how you perform in groups, and your potential for the future. They are rarely impressed or swayed by a recommender’s title or alumni status.

One of the biggest mistakes we see applicants make is asking their company’s 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 highlighting your positive personality traits, you’ve missed an enormous opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.

We suggest listing all 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? These people are great MBA recommenders because they will go above and beyond to write a stellar and, most importantly, memorable reference.


Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers from every M7 program and the elite European MBA programs. If you are looking for guidance on your MBA application, we can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more.