Whether you dragged your feet in asking for an LOR or your recommender has had too many other things on his/her plate, you might find yourself in a crunch to get your letters submitted in time. But don’t panic. Even with limited time, there are some clear steps you can take to ensure that your recommendations shine.
Remember, letters of recommendation are an integral part of your MBA application that require more work than you might think. Often, we see candidates ask someone to write the letter, ensure it gets submitted, and call it a day. This can be a big mistake. Your role in the LOR process should be much more involved than this. See our tips on arming your recommenders to write the best letters possible.
We advise taking some key steps now.
First, arm your recommender with key pieces of information! The more your recommenders know about your short-term and long-term goals, the more they can highlight examples and skill sets that would best demonstrate your ability to succeed in these endeavors. Remind your recommenders of your key accomplishments and provide them with some thoughts on areas you would love to see covered. Don’t be shy about selling yourself; this will not only make their lives easier, but it will ensure they share the best stories. Your recommenders are busy and it is easy for them to forget details. Take the time to think of the top stories you would like them to recount and remind them of these.
Share your application by offering them a copy of your essays or sharing a summary. Let them know the traits you are highlighting and the success stories you are telling. The idea is for the letter to complement the rest of your application. This means you do not want them to repeat exactly what you have already said. At the same time, you want to make sure there is no conflicting information. Perhaps they can share another example that demonstrates a complementary skill set or touches on an area you were not able to cover in your essays. The more they know about what you are already saying, the more successful this will be.
Finally, set up an in-person meeting – now! Bring a written document to this meeting that includes the items discussed above. In this meeting you can briefly go over the information you have gathered. You can also use this as an opportunity to remind them to compare you to other candidates. Just as we advise that your resume and essays go beyond listing tasks, your recommendations should go beyond recounting what you have done. Successful MBA students are leaders who have differentiated themselves from their peers, going above and beyond what would be expected in the role. One of the best ways to show this is to compare you to your peers and others who have had the job previously.
This meeting will also be a crucial way to thank your recommender in advance and let them know how grateful you are. Ask them if you can do anything to help them or provide them with any additional information. Remember, be appreciative and not demanding. This is a favor and while you may have many needs, approach them graciously.
A Wharton MBA graduate with a BS from MIT, Scott has been an MBA admissions consultant for eight years and has helped hundreds of applicants around the world get into top MBA programs. Besides perfecting the MBA admissions process and making dreams come true for applicants from Tokyo to San Francisco and everywhere in between, Scott has also worked across consulting, financial services and strategy & corporate development roles before becoming a Full-Time admissions consultant.
If you would like help applying to Dartmouth Tuck or any other top business school, set up a free consultation session with Scott here to learn more about his unique and personalized support.
Note from the Apply team: Opinions expressed by Apply MBA Contributors are their own.
Also read: How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation