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Letters of recommendation: Best practices for your MBA application

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There are several components to your MBA application that you’ll need to complete – and one that is simple to fill out but takes thought. You’ll need to supply the names and contact information of your recommenders, and leave the rest to our admissions team. As you consider your colleagues and connections who can serve as a positive recommendation, here are our tips and best practices.

  • Ensure the recommender uses specific examples of your abilities
  • Review your goals of getting an Executive MBA with your recommender
  • Higher level leaders in your organization without direct knowledge of your work are less valuable
  • Members of your current organization generally provide the most relevant content

UNC Kenan-Flagler recommendation guidance

What should be in a recommendation letter?
After you supply the name and contact information of your recommenders, we will send them a form that provides a guided assessment. This form creates efficiency for your recommender, while providing the contextual information to evaluate your candidacy. For individuals who may wish to write a letter rather than complete the form, letters may be sent to: emba@unc.edu.

Who should complete the forms?
We require at least two recommendations, and suggest including your direct supervisor, if possible. If you haven’t approached your supervisor about pursuing an MBA, consider leaders within your organization who are familiar with your work, and can identify your strengths and weaknesses. A common myth is to have the most senior individual at an organization complete the recommendation, but in reality, obtaining a recommendation from someone who can share specific work examples is much more advantageous for the admissions committee. Don’t be afraid to consider clients, vendors, and people you know through volunteer work who can speak to your future success in the program.

What should I tell my recommenders to write?
The more specific the content, the better. Suggest that the recommenders write directly about a goal that you’ve reached, problem you’ve solved, or a strength that you’re known for within your organization.

What is the time estimate to complete the recommendation form?
Approximately 10 – 15 minutes, based on your history with the recommender.

What if my recommenders are unresponsive to my invitation?
Two reminders to your recommender is acceptable. Give them appropriate time to complete the form and always include a deadline. Reinforce why pursuing this MBA is important to you, and advise that the admissions committee reviews recommendations closely. If your recommender still doesn’t take action after two reminders, it’s best to consider another contact.

When should I provide my recommendations?
First, be sure to ask your recommenders if they are willing to speak on your behalf. Then, go ahead and provide their names and contact information within this section of the application. Your recommenders can submit the form anytime, even before you complete your portion of the application.

What if I work for a family-owned or sole proprietor business?
These circumstances vary on a case-by-case basis. Often, it is preferred for non-family representatives to provide a recommendation. In these situations, you may want to consider external vendors or clients you work with. If you believe a family member would provide a valuable recommendation, please contact us at emba@unc.edu.

4.19.2019