Please Don’t Choose the Wrong Recommenders for Your MBA Applications

How do you select your recommender? A great MBA recommendation letter can make the difference in your MBA application, but it isn’t always obvious who your best recommenders would be or how you can help them write an awesome recommendation. 

This week, Angela Guido talks about the all-important MBA Recommendation letter: how to select your recommender, what recommendation tips can you give them, and how you can end up with recommendations that rock and an inbox of MBA admissions. #MBAMondays #AwesomeRecommendations

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Today on MBA Monday, I'm going to tell you how to choose your MBA recommenders.

I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, and what we're doing here is talking about all the questions you have about applying to business school and getting in without being a douche.

Choosing your MBA recommenders is a very, very important part of this process. Your MBA recommendations will constitute half or more of the total word count the admissions committee reads about you. So, the MBA recommendation letters are very, very important, as is choosing the best recommenders for you. So that means that who you choose to write you a great MBA recommendation is an essential step in this process. So listen up, because I’ve got some MBA recommendation tips for you!

Who Can Write An Awesome Recommendation?

People have a lot of confusion about what makes for a great MBA recommender letter. Some of the myths that are out there are things like you need to choose an alum of the school or you need to choose someone with the most prestigious advanced title in the organization. You need to choose someone who's a donor or has a relationship with the school or is the president of a small country, you know, someone who's got a very, very elite personal brand. Almost none of that is ultimately true. If you happen to know people like that and those people pass my three recommender criteria, by all means, choose that person.

But most of us don't know anybody like that. We don't know any alums of the schools we’re applying to we don't know the president of any small country and we don't know the CEO of our own company. And if you don't know your recommender, that's very biggest mistake you can make, because a letter that's been written as a formality, as a as a courtesy to you, but lacks any substance is almost the worst-case scenario. You've totally burned that recommendation and you've shown a pretty significant lack of self-awareness and maturity in that choice. So you really want to choose your recommenders based on these three criteria.

3 Tips For Recommendations That Rock

    1. Number one is intimacy. You want to choose someone who knows you really, really well. Someone who's sat beside you in the office, someone who's watched you work, who's watched you grow, who's mentored you, who's done projects with you, someone who can speak directly to your professional work product, your professionalism and your character, someone who knows you really well. That's number one.
    2. Number two, you want to choose someone who loves you or who at least really, really likes you. I don't mean to, you know, say anything inappropriate, but you want to choose someone who is like a big fan of you. If they're asked to write something about you, they're not just going to go through the motions, they're going to write something really great. They're going to put their heart and soul into it. They're going to write from the heart and they're going to speak not just to, you know, how you check all the boxes at work and do quality things and are basically smart and, you know, diligent, they're also going to talk about their relationship with you, how impressed they are with you, how much they rely on you. They're going to put an element of themselves in it because they care about you personally. That's number two.
    3. Number three is to choose someone who's willing to be coached. So this point is perhaps the most subtle. But writing an MBA recommendation isn't like writing any other kind of recommendation. They need to show a lot of detail about the work that you've done, and they need to do it in a very personal way. So they need to be both vivid and flattering in their approach. In my experience, most recommenders at best can do one or the other, but not both. Most people aren't used to writing in quite that way. So ideally, you're going to take a look at what they write and help them improve their writing to match the best practice.

By the way, by the way, if you want an example of the best practice, you can click the link below and download our recommendation cheat sheet and share that with your recommenders. It's the number one piece of content on our website. People absolutely love it. I recommend that you go get that right now and take a look.

So these are your three criteria, intimacy, they love you and they're willing to be coached as they write a great recommendation for your MBA applications.

That's it. Thanks a lot. We'll see you next Monday.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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