Your MBA letters of recommendation carry a lot of weight. Not only are they the only element of the MBA application not written by you, but they also bring valuable credibility to your narrative by validating how others perceive your talents and leadership potential!

If you are planning to apply to the top B-schools then a well-written letter of recommendation will be of immense help.

But, asking for a letter of recommendation is always a daunting task. If you’re hoping to be accepted into a top MBA program at a respected university, you’ll need multiple letters of recommendation. Navigating exactly how to write a letter of recommendation for business schools, or any school for that matter, can be quite confusing. And if you are new to the MBA world, taking this lightly can actually have you discarded from your target B-schools even with a good application.

So, here is a step by step breakdown of how you can have a letter of recommendation that will not leave a single stone unturned!

Who to ask for an MBA letter of recommendation?

The most preferred choice should be your immediate supervisor because they are the one who has monitored your work directly and can vouch for your accomplishments. Business schools value the MBA reference letter from someone who knows you well and can provide anecdotes or examples to support your claims in your application.

Top business Schools are not really impressed with titles of the recommenders. However, if your supervisor is an alumnus of your target business school or any other top B-school, their recommendation letter will definitely be valued higher.

If you haven’t informed your current supervisor of your plans to pursue an MBA and you believe that it could negatively affect your career then a previous supervisor is the next best choice. Moreover, you can ask supervisors from your volunteer positions or internships for a business schools recommendation letter. Watch this video to know how to navigate this situation!

Just keep in mind that the person who writes your MBA recommendation letter should be someone who supports your career goals and is willing to write you a glowing letter of recommendation. The best recommendation letters are written by someone who thinks you are fantastic, wants to help you, and is in a position to supply the kind of anecdotes and detail that speak to what makes you distinctive. Instead of asking, “would you be willing to write a recommendation for me?”, ask in terms of “would you advocate for me?” How your chosen supervisor reacts will give you a valuable indication of whether they are willing to be your champion, or if there’s a risk that they could write a lukewarm recommendation.

If you cannot convince your superviser to write a personalized letter or to respond to your target school’s individual questions using specific examples, look elsewhere. A well-written personalized letter from an interested party is always far better than a poorly written letter from your supervisor.

When to approach?

Writing an MBA recommendation letter is time-consuming and therefore, it is advisable not to approach your recommender at the eleventh hour. This would be perceived wrongly towards your dedication of the MBA course, and could prove disastrous. Therefore, request your recommendation at least 6 to 8 weeks before the application deadline. However, the sooner the better!

Also, it’s important that you remind the recommender about the projects you excelled at so that they describe your qualities and achievements. However, you still have to manage the overall process and make the job easier for your MBA recommender.

What to say to your MBA recommender?

It goes without saying that it is a bad idea to write your own recommendations. However, you need to manage the process to get an MBA letter of recommendation which paints the most accurate picture of you. To do that you can assist your recommender with helpful information.

Preferably have your MBA profile ready so that you have loads of information and achievements to share with your recommender right from the start. This is how you’ll get a well-rounded MBA letter of recommendation. Also, you can choose to share the same résumé you plan to submit in your application. You may also want to list the business schools you are planning to apply to and their application deadlines.

Schedule a conversation with your recommenders and walk them through your resume and refresh them on your accomplishments and successes. You can also try to brainstorm your strengths and weaknesses with them, as they may have a different perspective than you. Do not, however, overly script or veer into writing the letter for them, because your recommender’s voice and authenticity is fundamental to the letter’s credibility!

The type of recommendation letter that they have to write is also important. Some business schools like Stanford ask recommenders specific questions to answer. Other business schools ask for a generic letter. Also, mention if there is a word limit that your recommenders have to follow.
Some candidates also state that highlighting areas of weaknesses or development can be helpful. You will come out as self-aware and your recommender will be able to relate your development areas with business education.

Make sure to share the instructions on how to submit the letter of recommendation. Most business schools allow submitting the letter through their online portal.

Lastly, don’t forget to send a thank-you note. It is, after all, a favor that your supervisor is doing for you!

Follow these tips thoroughly, and you will have yourself a set of recommendation letters that will strengthen your application. Top international B-schools place a lot of importance on the applicant’s work experience and industry knowledge, and these are best described by the supervisor. So, keep in mind that your general relationship with them will also play a role in the quality of the recommendation you receive!

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