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Ethically Questionable, But Something We All Should HaveDone

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Ethically Questionable, But Something We All Should HaveDone [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 18:30
I had this brilliant idea the other day when I was thinking about how to prepare for the possible ding-apocalypse, and thinking about whether I would be willing to wait to apply to school next year if I don't get into a top choice.

This time around I had a couple of "paper" rec's, as in recommendations written on paper and sealed in an envelope with a signature across the seal per the instructions on the application. I know most people go with electronic, but I live very close to schools I'm applying to and wanted to deliver the recs in person and get "face time" at the admissions office (which may or may not be a good idea.)

Of course when I collected the envelopes from my recommenders I was thinking, "Hm, I wonder if I hold this up to the light if I can.....nope, can't see sh*t."

But I was just thinking what I could do if I were to apply again next year (and I don't think I'd really do this because I'm going to business school, and necessarily have really high ethics you know) is I could provide to my recommenders the four or five school recs for the schools I'm interested in, PLUS one other school that I don't really plan on applying to. Then when they give me all my recommendations back, signed and sealed, I crack open the one to the school I wasn't planning on applying to.

This is unethical right? Immoral? Wrong? Genius? Yes, yes,yes, and yes. Then I could see if my recommenders were stabbing me in the back (let me remind everyone that Montauk said ad-coms estimate one in ten recommenders sabotages the applicant, and one in ten recs means for schools that require two recs, your odds of being sabotaged are one in five -- I'd be willing to bet there are several of us unsuspecting souls on this here board that have been sabotaged).

Thoughts?
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My Recommenders Shared Their Recs with Me [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 19:39
Johnny,

That's weird. I have a pretty good relationship with my recommenders. Some applications allow you to see the recommendations once these are submitted.

Most of my recommenders were very open with my recs. Among the 5 recommenders I have, three shared their recs with me.

I think if you're close enough to these people, you don't need to go through all that...
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 19:44
Yeah even me, I got a copy of my recommendations.
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 19:45
My recommenders shared copies of their letters with me before submitting them asking for my approval.
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 20:11
My recommenders FYI'd me on the recos after submission.

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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 20:31
Same with me.

I got a copy of the letters and also got some changes incorporated(some examples they had overlooked).
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 21:28
I didn't write them, but I gave HEAVILY annotated notes/topics. No worries.

Still I didnt see the finished product AS THE ADCOM sees it, so you're always curious...
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2007, 23:54
i haven't read Montauk's book (maybe i should have because i feel like im gonna get dinged across the board), but i wonder when he says that one in ten recommenders sabotages your application, does this mean they are doing it knowingly? maybe the recommender has good intentions, and writes something they think portrays you okay, but in reality makes you look bad in the eyes of adcoms.
For example, a lot of schools ask the recommender to comment on some of your weaknesses. what if the recommender writes something and spins it well for you, but it happens to be a weakness that adcoms do not want. or what if the recommender writes such a glowing over the top recommendation, that it almost looks fake and makes the adcom suspicious - thus "sabotaging" your application?

regardless. when i asked people to write recs for me, i gave a rough draft and an outline with which to work with. one of them editted it, showed it to me, then submitted it.
i'm unsure what the other recommender did, but i have a sneaking suspicision he used it... unfortunately, i think he simply used the bare first draft instead of editting it a bit with his own flare as i had hoped he would. the reason i think this is because he submitted the recommendations about an hour after i emailed it to him, all schools within a few minutes of each other.
if in fact i get dinged across the board, i will definately be sure to specify that it is only a very rough draft if i ask him again next year (or just write a much better draft).
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 00:22
I have no clue what my recommenders wrote about me. I was hoping that they would let me have a peek but that didn't happen. I am glad that things worked out and thanked them profusely for their time and effort.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 06:14
Well in Montauk's book he says that about one in ten sabotage either with an outright "Don't admit this person," type warning, or with faint praise like, "Well they manage to show up on time once in a while, and they seem to be really good at the internet so I would consider that their main strength."

So if one in ten recommendations does this, then like I was saying, that means one in five (assuming most people need two recommenders) people are being sabotaged. It's awesome that a lot of you have recommenders who showed you what they wrote, so I guess that means that for those who don't know what their recommenders wrote, the odds of being sabotaged are probably even slightly higher than 20% ??

I'm not really this paranoid, I'm sure Montauk could be wrong, or maybe his definition of "sabotage" is a little more benign than what I take it to mean.

I gave a pretty solid rough draft to both my recommenders and I assume they tweaked it a bit, but as gogetter said, you're still always going to be curious.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 06:54
johnnyx9 wrote:
Well in Montauk's book he says that about one in ten sabotage either with an outright "Don't admit this person," type warning, or with faint praise like, "Well they manage to show up on time once in a while, and they seem to be really good at the internet so I would consider that their main strength."

So if one in ten recommendations does this, then like I was saying, that means one in five (assuming most people need two recommenders) people are being sabotaged. It's awesome that a lot of you have recommenders who showed you what they wrote, so I guess that means that for those who don't know what their recommenders wrote, the odds of being sabotaged are probably even slightly higher than 20% ??

I'm not really this paranoid, I'm sure Montauk could be wrong, or maybe his definition of "sabotage" is a little more benign than what I take it to mean.

I gave a pretty solid rough draft to both my recommenders and I assume they tweaked it a bit, but as gogetter said, you're still always going to be curious.

Well, you can really improve your odds by making the right judgment about a) your recommenders and b) how well regarded you are in general. I believe quite a few people have this coming to them, because frankly there are many people who apply to b-school who are not well-liked by co-workers and who don't do good work.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 07:09
For the most part I agree with you Dukes, a person should show good judgement in picking recommenders.

But at the same time I think it is possible that you ask someone who you think likes you, and maybe they do like you, but maybe when all of a sudden their perception of you as a subordinate changes because you're basically asking, "Hi, been fun working with you, but I aspire for much greater things than you have ever done, so please write a letter about how great I am so I can go to a school you would never dream of getting into. Oh and by the way, you can consider this my nine month's notice of resignation."

Again, I'm not really this paranoid, but sometimes you think you know someone and then you find out they harbor jealous thoughts, or maybe they are irritated that they've been asked to write a glowing letter about someone who is basically quitting on them.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 07:10
johnnyx9 wrote:
Well in Montauk's book he says that about one in ten sabotage either with an outright "Don't admit this person," type warning, or with faint praise like, "Well they manage to show up on time once in a while, and they seem to be really good at the internet so I would consider that their main strength."

So if one in ten recommendations does this, then like I was saying, that means one in five (assuming most people need two recommenders) people are being sabotaged. It's awesome that a lot of you have recommenders who showed you what they wrote, so I guess that means that for those who don't know what their recommenders wrote, the odds of being sabotaged are probably even slightly higher than 20% ??

I'm not really this paranoid, I'm sure Montauk could be wrong, or maybe his definition of "sabotage" is a little more benign than what I take it to mean.

I gave a pretty solid rough draft to both my recommenders and I assume they tweaked it a bit, but as gogetter said, you're still always going to be curious.


I think his definition of sabotage is not writing a bad rec per se - though that would certainly qualify - I think he means that sabotage is occasionally unintentional. People write lukewarm non-specific recs that says things like "John is quite capable as an analyst. He consistenly completes work on time as assigned. He is always willing to help more and asks for more work. The quality of his work is also very strong." rather than saying "John is an exceptional individual who proactively identifies needs early, develops innovative and well thought out strategic solutions on his own and completes tasks with a caliber and efficiency I've rarely encountered in my twenty years of professional experience."

It's the difference between "good" and "exceptional" between "strong" and "oustanding" between "valuable" and "unique".
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 07:19
johnnyx9 wrote:
For the most part I agree with you Dukes, a person should show good judgement in picking recommenders.

But at the same time I think it is possible that you ask someone who you think likes you, and maybe they do like you, but maybe when all of a sudden their perception of you as a subordinate changes because you're basically asking, "Hi, been fun working with you, but I aspire for much greater things than you have ever done, so please write a letter about how great I am so I can go to a school you would never dream of getting into. Oh and by the way, you can consider this my nine month's notice of resignation."

Again, I'm not really this paranoid, but sometimes you think you know someone and then you find out they harbor jealous thoughts, or maybe they are irritated that they've been asked to write a glowing letter about someone who is basically quitting on them.


That's why I refused me to ask my CEO to do me a letter ;)... I share the same view as u here :). I simply cannot trust.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 07:26
Rhyme, you're probably right, the "sabotage" probably is not always intentional.

Something I wondered as I crafted my "rough drafts" is if a glowing recommendation comes across as uncredible. For instance saying that someone is "one of the finest workers I have encountered in my twenty years of work experience..." or something like that might be true, but most likely wouldn't people who truly deserve such praise already be successful and not in need of an MBA?

Ad-coms know that a lot of people write their own recommendations or at least collaborate with recommenders, wouldn't that sort of be a tip-off when the letter is so over-the-top? If I was reading recommendations I would kind of gauge the sincerity or authenticity of a rec by giving it a reasonability test. Hm, this kid is a senior analyst, he's 27, hasn't managed anyone yet or doesn anything particularly exceptional with his career, but still the recommender is saying he is this amazing walk-on-water type employee. And in the check-boxes they checked off "Superior" for every single category.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 08:21
I think that is a pretty novel idea. but it doesn't really improve your chances. If your recommender absolutely refuses to show you the letter before sending it... I would be worried if I chose the right person.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 08:44
johnnyx9 wrote:
And in the check-boxes they checked off "Superior" for every single category.


I am very curious how Adcoms use those checkboxes?! If you have a great letter, but the boxes aren't all 'Superior' do they discount it? Which one counts for more etc...

That is the one area I didin't 'coach' at all on, but if its important maybe I should have!
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 10:13
I'm guessing the checkboxes are more a way of checking for red flags, like if interpersonal skills are poor when everything else is strong.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 11:04
Here is what the worst thing can be....

Your recommender shows you one thing and then actually posts another different recommendation. It happened to me. Long story but I think it pretty much was the reason I have managed to get 3 straight dings up to now and looking at 3 more to come.

What goes around comes around so I'm waiting for the 360 reviews so that I can destroy the managers performance rating.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2007, 11:13
Zagros wrote:
Here is what the worst thing can be....

Your recommender shows you one thing and then actually posts another different recommendation. It happened to me.


Ouch.

Why would you even know, let alone ask for rec, a person of that type of character (besides the obvious answer)?
  [#permalink] 22 Feb 2007, 11:13
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