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Letters of Recommendation Dilemma

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Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 08 Mar 2009, 03:59
hi all:
I'm facing a bit of a dilemma and would appreicate some input. One of my recommenders for bschool app. is my ex-boss. When I first asked him for letters of recommendation for bschool, he responded to my inquiry right away and enthusiastically said yes. However, later follow-up msgs were ignored, but I was able to reach him on the phone several times and each time he said that "he'll take care of it, no prob.". He even reassured me when I called him a couple of days before the deadline that he'll "do it that night, it'll be done." But when I go check the online system the next morning, he didn't submit the letter at all. And when I called him again, as soon as he heard mine voice, he hung up on me.

Thankfully I had a backup recommender who graciously wrote the recommendation and submit it for me on time. I've also deleted my ex-boss's name from the school system. The problem is, I still have several app. left to go. Originally I put his name in all the systems as the recommender and if he can write a good recommendation letter, I'd still like him to submit it. B/c I had several projects at that job where I have a lot of responsibility so for the purpose of bschool app, that job and its responsbility would work really well. I haven't told him that I already deleted his name and asked someone else for that one letter that has already been submitted and I don't know how exactly to tell him that over email.

Plus, I also have the dilemma of not exactly know what to say to him. I mean if he doesn't have time, he should let me know and I'm fine with it. But for him to say that he'll complete the letters on time when I contacted him merely several days away and still not doing anytime about it is pretty crappy. On the other hand, he is still my ex-boss and I might still need him for recommendation for future employment if not bschool, so I don't want to burn bridges. How can I bring this issue up to him and word it the right way? (he sounded really annoyed at me when I called him the last two times, but I had no choice as he didn't reply to any of my followup emails and I wasn't like calling him everyday or anything)

Thanks very much for any suggestions!
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 08 Mar 2009, 06:01
If he's avoiding your calls and hanging up on you, I'm guessing that he's not likely to write any letters for you.

I'd find an alternative and move on.

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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 08 Mar 2009, 08:18
Regardless of the situation, one should never burn any bridge. Even though your ex boss won't be much of help right now, you have to think long-term - not just short term. Most bad decisions are made when one considers only short term consequences and results. Therefore, you are RIGHT to find an alternative way to notify him that his service is no longer needed.

If you can find a replacement recommender, then go ahead and delete your recommender's email or contact info from the online application and add the new recommender. Then politely email your ex boss and let him know that due to approaching deadlines, you acquired additional rec letters from other sources and thank him/her for his time and interest. Let him know that you might need additional rec letters to these schools in the future (in case you are WL'ed etc) and you hope he/she will assist you in the future.


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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 08 Mar 2009, 11:38
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nink wrote:
Regardless of the situation, one should never burn any bridge. Even though your ex boss won't be much of help right now, you have to think long-term - not just short term. Most bad decisions are made when one considers only short term consequences and results. Therefore, you are RIGHT to find an alternative way to notify him that his service is no longer needed.

If you can find a replacement recommender, then go ahead and delete your recommender's email or contact info from the online application and add the new recommender. Then politely email your ex boss and let him know that due to approaching deadlines, you acquired additional rec letters from other sources and thank him/her for his time and interest. Let him know that you might need additional rec letters to these schools in the future (in case you are WL'ed etc) and you hope he/she will assist you in the future.



I think nink has it right. Don't burn any bridges, but don't rely on him either -- this is too important to you.

I think in general, you want to secure recommenders who would be "disgusted" if you didn't get into your top choice schools; someone who is really rooting for you. This isn't exactly the same as the person who you worked with the most closely, had the best project experiences with, etc. If those people are either stingy with their recommendations or dodgy, best avoid them. People have weird pre-occupations with schooling, favors, etc.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 02:17
hey guys:
Thanks for the responses. So btw the option of trying to see if I could get my boss to fulfill his initial promise and for him to complete the recommendation letters for my other appl. and just forget about whatever he promised before and use the badckup recommender; the responses so far lean towards the latter. So most of you think that my ex-boss is pretty a lost cause there, am I right?
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 04:39
I think he's a lost cause. It's not even so much whether he would actually submit letters on time for the other schools. His behavior so far has really called into question how enthusiastic he is about recommending you. Even if he would get the other letters done on time, I think you'd be better off finding someone else.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 05:49
Jerz wrote:
I think he's a lost cause. It's not even so much whether he would actually submit letters on time for the other schools. His behavior so far has really called into question how enthusiastic he is about recommending you. Even if he would get the other letters done on time, I think you'd be better off finding someone else.


ditto.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 08:02
Jerz wrote:
I think he's a lost cause. It's not even so much whether he would actually submit letters on time for the other schools. His behavior so far has really called into question how enthusiastic he is about recommending you. Even if he would get the other letters done on time, I think you'd be better off finding someone else.


Completely agree. I'd be concerned about a recommendation from him even if he did get it on time. I would delete him from the other schools and find someone else.

I'd also put serious effort into how you handle this with your ex-boss to avoid burning the bridge. He probably feels like a total jerk (rightfully so), and he'll feel even worse after you let him know that you're getting someone else to do the other recs, if that's what you do. Softening the blow is important.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 08:09
OhThatMBA wrote:
He probably feels like a total jerk (rightfully so), and he'll feel even worse after you let him know that you're getting someone else to do the other recs, if that's what you do. Softening the blow is important.


Let's hope that his ex boss feels guilty. If the ex boss hangs up on him, then i doubt he is feeling guilty.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 21:16
You need to immediately remove this person from all your applications. I don't care what he told you a few months ago, this person has given you more than one red flag and you don't want him writing for you. I'm not even sure you owe him an explanation. If he even bothers to access your other applications he'll know *exactly* why he was removed.

Honestly, it sounds like this bridge is already burned and any effort on your part at this point would be to rebuild this bridge. If you want to take the high road and give him an explanation, you could send a *brief* email that gives him the benefit of the doubt and an easy out. You could say something like, 'I understand you've become extremely busy recently and I absolutely don't want to add stress, so I've asked another contact to write my recommendations. Please stay in touch.'

I'm curious, how did you ask this ex-boss to recommend you? Did you provide a resume? Did you provide highlights from your time working with him? Did you simply ask for a rec and not provide additional context?

For your replacement recommender, you should absolutely make sure he/she has your resume and some highlights of areas you'd like him/her to write about. Montauk's book is a good resource for this particular topic.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2009, 22:53
Thanks very much for the advice, guys!

@BigBad:
I did provide my ex-boss with all the info he needed for the recommendation and he acknowledged that he received all the materials.

Honestly I wasn't really planning on my ex-boss being a recommender b/c even when I was working there, it was extremely difficult to get a meeting with him, even briefly, to discuss projects that I was working on. I mean, I was taking the initative to coming to him to discuss projects that I was working on for him and he was often "too busy" to talk. Although I left the company on good terms, I fully expected him to say he's too busy and decline my request. That's why I was surprised when he responded quickly and enthusiastically to my initial request for recommendations. I didn't count on him (someone much older than me and in business for much longer) to act this way at all.

So how should I handle this without burning the bridge? I have to admit, the company itself was't the best place to work. The place has extremely high turnover and I personally know more than one person who left the company on very bad terms (sometimes not entirely their own fault). Even though I left the company on relatively good terms, considering the behavior I've witnessed in the past, I'm a bit weary of handling things the wrong way. What would you guys suggest?
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2009, 04:21
I think the email that BigBad suggested is a good way to deal with it. I had a recommender that I removed because I lost faith he would meet the deadline and I handled it in a similar way. My relationship with this recommender is still good, so no bridges were burned.
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Dilemma   [#permalink] 10 Mar 2009, 04:21
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