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Getting the best MBA recommendations

Woman on laptop choosing MBA recommenders

Recommendations are a key component of your MBA application, and allow the admissions committee to gain additional perspective on your skills, character, and motivation for pursuing your MBA. As you consider your recommenders, here are the answers to common questions about the process.

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Who should I ask to be my recommender? 

Letters of recommendation should come from your direct supervisor or indirect supervisors who have overseen your work on a particular project. You can also consider additional recommendations from colleagues within an organization you volunteer for, or vendors with whom you have a business relationship. No matter who you choose, be sure to give them plenty of time to complete the recommendation form – they are going above and beyond for you!

Recommendations allow the admissions committee to gain additional perspective on your skills, character, and motivation for pursuing your MBA. 

A common myth is to have the most senior individual at an organization complete your recommendation. In reality, obtaining a recommendation from someone who knows your strengths and can speak to the quality of your work with specific examples is much more impressive than the title of your recommender. These unique insights into your experience are immensely helpful for our admissions committee as your application is considered.

How should I ask my chosen recommender to provide me a recommendation?

Experts advise MBA applicants to re-frame the “ask” from “will you write a recommendation for me?” to “will you advocate for me?” This distinction can help you determine whether this recommender will provide strong, valuable insights into your potential or instead write a softer recommendation that may not be as helpful to the admissions committee.

When should I send the letter of recommendation forms?

Start the process early! While the form should only take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete, you should give your recommenders at least three weeks to be able to review the form and develop their responses. Keep in mind any upcoming holidays or vacations on their schedule, as well.

It is essential that the recommender you choose will have the time to provide specific, concrete examples of key skills. These include leadership and teamwork, as well as a detailed explanation of your character and what makes you exceptionally qualified for the Full-Time MBA program.

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When should I send the letter of recommendation forms?

First, be sure to ask your chosen recommenders if they would be willing to write a recommendation on your behalf. You’ll want to send the recommendation forms to them as soon as possible to give them plenty of time to complete them.

After my chosen recommender agrees to advocate for me, is there anything else I should do?

In order to help facilitate a strong recommendation, take the time to sit down with your recommender and discuss your goals, accomplishments, and other aspects of your resume they may be unaware of (or need a reminder about). These conversations are a key time for you to brainstorm your strengths and weaknesses, as well as advise them on the importance of detailed responses with concrete examples to supplement your application materials.

Remember – your chosen recommender is likely unaware of how their letter will be considered by the admissions committee as part of your complete application, so this is a great way to help your recommender decide what to include in their responses. Of course, you shouldn’t be writing the letter for your recommender – their unique voice and perspective is an important element of your application.

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 or a strength that you’re known for at your organization. It will take approximately 10-15 minutes for your recommender to complete the form.

What if my recommenders are unresponsive to my invitation?

People are busy, so two reminders of your request are acceptable. Give them ample time to complete the form and provide them with a deadline. Reinforce why the MBA is important to you and ensure they know that the admissions committee reviews recommendations closely. If your recommender still doesn’t take action after two reminders, it may be best for you to find another recommender, giving them enough time to complete the required materials.

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