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How to Cultivate Excellent Recommendation Writers
Recommendations are one of the most important parts of your MBA application. In this article, we’ll go through some key steps you can take to help you secure better recommendations.
First, all of your recommendations should convey the same overarching message – that you are a great performer who has key strengths in areas such as leadership and analytical skills. Before the recommendations are written, make sure that some of your superiors in the workplace are aware of your strong professional performance, know you reasonably well, and feel positively enough about you to support your applications. They should be willing and able to comment about your leadership skills, analytical strengths, and overall solid performance.
Unfortunately, many candidates fail to get to know their superiors on a level where they feel completely comfortable in knowing their superiors’ level of support. When candidates come to me, one of my first pieces of advice is to begin cultivating strong relationships early. Whether this involves taking on extra tasks for a superior, meeting up for coffee or arranging informal opportunities to talk, developing a relationship and providing key examples of your strong performance to a superior could make or break an excellent recommendation.
Many candidates also need to show a solid history of strong work performance. To aid in this, candidates should also take steps to keep relationships with prior superiors alive. If you have switched teams, divisions or companies, make efforts to stay in touch with those who were superior to you and thought very well of you; you may need to ask them also for a recommendation.
So what happens to candidates who fail to take these incremental steps? If they are lucky, they have naturally performed so well and have worked so closely with multiple superiors that they are unanimously seen as a star and will have no problems gaining strong letters of support. But, unfortunately, when this is not the case, many candidates are left feeling that the only strong recommendations they can attain are from peers — and peer-only recommendations generally do not fare as strongly with admissions committees.
The take-away should be that the earlier you begin thinking about which superiors might recommend you, the sooner you can begin to develop strong relationships, and the better off you should be in the MBA admissions process.
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com