Recommendations are an important element of the MBA Applications process. This short video will help you in having the correct approach for getting recommendation letters for your applications and avoiding the most common errors that applicants often make.

MBA Recommendation Letters – A Holistic Approach

As part of your application process, you will have to provide recommendation letters from several individuals illustrating the qualities that make you a good candidate for the business school you have applied to. The first step to understanding recommendation letters is to understand which people these letters would be best coming from. Ideally, the person providing you with an evaluation should be a professional who has closely seen you working in a professional capacity for a lengthy period of time, not more than three years ago. This set of qualifications would put them in the best position to comment on your current professional capabilities. One person you absolutely must get a letter from is your current supervisor. However, if you unable to do so, you will have to explain the reason for your inability in the Optional Essay.

There are, of course, some other options of recommenders, as well – they are previous supervisors or supervisors at previous organizations; clients, investors and auditors, are three particularly good evaluators for entrepreneurial candidates. In the absence of these, the H.R manager of a company is also an option. Some people are technically options but should be avoided if at all possible. Thus, for instance, your peers make for poor references. People from your academic career such as professors are low-value references since the MBA is a professional course.

The best way to approach the recommendations process is to get letters from a combination of people whose perspectives can paint a diverse picture of your qualities and capabilities. For example, if you have worked in more than one distinct role or even different domains be sure to get letters from the different supervisors you worked under; instruct them to clearly indicate their proximity in association to you. A special emphasis should be placed on any qualities you may have related to management. However, it is extremely important to ensure that anything they claim about you should be backed up with concrete examples, as this enables you to put forth a recommendation that appears authentic in every way. While obviously, you should ask the recommenders to avoid mentioning the major weaknesses you might have, they should give realistic ratings. and avoid calling you perfect or all around excellent. The letters need to have verisimilitude or the committee will dismiss them as fiction rather than be impressed. Taken together these last two points paint a particular picture of what the appraisal of your skills should look like. The recommendation needs to sound real - something a professional might say about a subordinate or peer whose work they are impressed by, not like a salesman trying to make a pitch. It should be borne in mind, however, that it is still meant to be a recommendation, that is to say, a fundamentally laudatory portrayal. Thus, whatever flaws your recommender can avoid mentioning while still remaining honest, they should.

Like all other aspects of your MBA application, particularly the essay, the purpose of the recommendation letters is to highlight qualities of yours that will make you appealing to the admissions committee. There are some particular qualities that the committee always keeps an eye open for and the recommendation letters can be used to draw attention to virtually any one of them. Some such qualities that would be good choices are honesty, work ethics, initiative, crisis management etc.

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