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Why You Need a Strong Letter of Recommendation

Jul 28, 2008
MBA schools are notoriously tough to get into. Competition for top-tier schools is very fierce with top students from the schools being fought over by elite companies. When looking at acceptance rates, it often can hover around 15% for most schools with some schools falling at even lower rates. One way to stand out is a letter of recommendation and this article will explain the keys to that letter in seven simple steps.

The firs step in the process is to define who you are looking for as a recommender. Most MBA schools will want at least one letter from a supervisor at your current place of employment. Other letters of recommendation can be written by past supervisors, academic professors depending how long you have been out of school or supervisors with an indirect relationship. These letters should speak specifically about your strengths and merits. You want people with good writing skills as a poorly written letter reflects negatively upon you.

The second step is to give sufficient time for your recommenders. Most people will apply to a handful of different schools and this means there is a handful of different deadlines. Organizing this information for your recommender along with giving at least one month of prep time to write will allow for the chance of a strong letter to be written.

The third step is to communicate what you are looking. This goes back to the deadlines along with specific forms some schools may require to be filled out.

The fourth step is to develop a list of what you have accomplished at each position you have been in. This list will be specific for each particular recommender so that he or she has information to go off of and you can further spotlight what you are looking for. These examples should prove how you positively affected the business and what kinds of positive traits you exhibited.

The fifth step is to create a structure with which your recommender can use to write the aforementioned letter. This structure works in creating a consistency through all your materials so that whoever is reading your information can best understand you. This letter should mention specific examples of what you have done and present you in the best way possible.

The sixth step is to get out of the way to let the recommenders write. If your recommenders are stuck, you may offer assistance in the form of a third party to help with the creation of the letter. This should not be done if possible but some recommenders may ask you to write the letter for them. If this happens, give the recommender a chance to read the letter before sending it off.

Finally, be consistent and on top of the process. A month can move quickly so checking in weekly can keep the recommender or you from being overwhelmed with the process.

It can take a great deal of time to follow up and work on letters of recommendation. In the end, you are looking for ways to positively spotlight yourself and this is far better than simply providing grades and a GMAT score.
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