How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation | ApplyMBA Blog | Apply MBA

How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation | ApplyMBA Blog

MBA application good letter of recommendation LOR

The letter of recommendation allows the Admission Committee to better understand the character and competence of an applicant through the testimony of other parties.

It is important that you give extra attention to the letter of recommendation. The recommendation must not only be extremely positive but also project an image of you that fits with the rest of your application.

On the recommendation form, the evaluator has the choice of either filling in a questionnaire or drafting a traditional letter. In the questionnaire form, there are questions that relates to the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate, his/her motivation, maturity, and more precisely, on his/her professional and academic competence.

To write such letter, your evaluators may ask you to write the letter, copy it on the form and then sign it. It is absolutely essential that you avoid this trap. Firstly, the letter will probably be a lot more impersonal and thereby fail to impress the Admission Committee. Secondly, the people in charge of assessing evaluators may recognize your style. If that happens, the letter loses all its importance and may go against your application in the final decision.


1.Choose the right people

Choosing the right people is very important. The letters should come from people representing different phases of your professional or personal life. For example, good choices are (1) a manager who is working with you in your current job, and (2) a person with whom you have worked in your previous job or someone since university.

Sometime, candidates find it difficult asking their immediate manager to write a letter of recommendation. Thought it is a difficult situation, it is essential that you include a letter from someone from your current employer.

In my view, it is all right asking for an evaluation from your current employer for the following reasons:

  1. You are going to study for your MBA and not joining any competitor.
  2. Net getting selected is nothing to be ashamed of given the very selective nature of the admission process.
  3. If you are accepted, you leave the company for 12 or 24 months, and not necessarily for good.

To conclude, everything depends on the way you go about your request. With little diplomacy, everything will go smoothly.

You must choose the people with whom you’ve worked directly, and who hold positions with substantial responsibilities. Basically, that means you should avoid choosing your office mate (“same role, same responsibilities”) but also avoid choosing the company’s managing director who you know through somebody else. Ideally, the letter must get across your professional qualities with that personal touch. And your manager is probably the best placed person for this.

You must also be certain that your evaluators will dedicate sufficient time and effort to draft an efficient letter. The letter must be written in proper English and if possible, be typed. Finally, please note that the title of the person you choose has little impact on the evaluation of the letter.

2.The content: Give out the right feelings about you

Although it’s not a good thing to write your own letters, that doesn’t mean that you should give your evaluators complete freedom to put down whatever they like. If the person accepts to write you a recommendation, make it clear to him or her about the type of message that you want to send to the admissions office. Without going to the point of writing it yourself, it is sometimes useful to write the basic outline of the letter together and to agree on the various key points which will structure it.

3.Highlight different aspects of your leadership ability

Try to choose people who each shed a different light on each of your qualities. It doesn’t help much to have three people from your company each say, in a slightly different way, that you have a wonderful talent for analyzing situations. Business school is looking for signs of your leadership ability. So don’t hesitate to have each one of your letters speak about a different aspect of your qualities as a leader. For example, if you have to get three letter of recommendation, have your first letter, from a former professor who describes your ability to motivate the students belonging to student association X. A second letter, written by your first boss, may emphasize that your data analysis defined new goals and objectives for department Y. Finally, a third letter from current employer can discuss your natural talent as a mentor, which enables those who work under you to develop their talents.

4.Don’t be too modest

Do not hesitate to talk about your success. For example, if you were at the head of your class, or if you are one of the top performers at work, encourage the person writing your letter to emphasize this achievement.

5.Demonstrate by example

It is essential that the person recommending you for your talents provide an example of your being exceptional. The more the person is convinced of this, the more the proof must be relevant. If you are described as the best marketing person in your company, but the letter of recommendation doesn’t provide any example, the praise may not sound authentic. Superlatives and high praise, therefore, have to be used with caution. At the same time, you have to ask yourself what exactly constitutes relevant example. Business schools attach a lot of importance to facts and figures because they are often better indicators than kind words. So, it’s important that you success be quantifiable. For example: if you are recommended as the best engineer in a company’s R&D division, a good proof would be that you found the formula for product Y that led to a growth in sales by +Z% in the space of XX months. If you are recommended as one of the best consultants at firm X, a good proof would be that your analytical efforts on project Y were critical for opening up immense opportunities for reduction in costs. From the reported savings, the directors of company indicated that the report was one of the best that had been compiled in the past five years.

ALSO READ : GMAC introduces the common Letter of Recommendation this year to simplify the process for candidates


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