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Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders

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Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2011, 19:21
I am planning on asking following individuals for recommendation:
1. My X-supervisor ~3yrs (until early last year). He recommended my last promotion.
2. VP of my department. Luckily I have worked very closely with him for last 5+years, and also he recommended previous to last promotion.

#1 is easy to ask. He loves me and I know he will write me an awesome recommendation. I am planning on asking him soon.

However, I am afraid of asking #2. I am on the verge of my next promotion. Moreover, he reports to my CTO, with whom also I have worked pretty closely. But if my CTO learns about me applying for MBA this year, I am not sure how would he react and I am afraid that it might jeopardize my current relationship with him/company till I working there. I hold lot of responsibility at work and I fear if my CTO knows he will start taking me off of those responsibilities. Also, I am not sure sure whether our VP will also start doing the same.

Q1: What should I tell our VP so that nothing changes at work? In other words, how should ask him?
Q2: Should I explicitly tell him that don't tell anybody else about it?
Q3: What is the minimum time I should give my recommenders? I don't want to distract myself off of GMAT - will telling our VP 1.5 month before the 1st deadline be enough? Or should I tell him sooner?

These thoughts have been killing me. Please please please help!
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 01:18
Overthinking this will not help. I had the same questions in my mind. You cant really soften the blow if the person is not going to like the fact that you are applying. And you won't know until you ask. If holding on to the job is first priority then dont ask him if you think the person is this kind of person. But also consider that word may eventually get out through the grapevine. So probably best foot forward may be to just go ahead and ask. I just went ahead and asked my boss finally though initially I had all kinds of questions floating in my mind.

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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 03:45
The timing issue also depends on how many schools are you applying to (how many recommendations will this person need to prepare for you?).
Maybe you should consider other recommenders who might be able to provide an equally good rec for you - a peer, someone else from your previous work place... usually schools will understand this if you can explain why you are not providing a rec from your current employer.
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 04:23
Thanks everybody for responding. Heartily appreciate you willingness to help me! Trust me, can't appreciate more!

MBAji wrote:
Overthinking this will not help. I had the same questions in my mind. You cant really soften the blow if the person is not going to like the fact that you are applying. And you won't know until you ask. If holding on to the job is first priority then dont ask him if you think the person is this kind of person. But also consider that word may eventually get out through the grapevine. So probably best foot forward may be to just go ahead and ask. I just went ahead and asked my boss finally though initially I had all kinds of questions floating in my mind.

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This is my 1st job and have been with the same employer since the stone age. So there is no option of X-employer :) But I have had 3 direct supervisor - 1st (1.5 yrs), 2nd (3 yrs), 3rd (1-1.5 yr, but he hardly knows me and moreover I have been dealing with our VP directly for the most part recently - also he is probably not the best of the supervisors/peers one would like to work with, lucky huh - Yey for me!)

I have many other close peers but besides these 4, nobody has supervised my work. Also I have worked with everyone equally, and I am not sure which among them would be powerful. So I was hoping to utilize these 2 recommenders, 2nd supervisor and VP, for ALL. I have another senior peer in mind, just as a backup, but I don't plan to ask him unless needed. Thoughts?

extrastarch wrote:
How big is your company? I would star talking to your reccommenders on your interest on going to bschool and ask them for their advice. That is a great way to start.


200-250 employees total but my department is small (~10-15% of the total size). I did that with my CTO early this year, he tried to talk me out of MBA :( I thought of him as an ideal reco for me, but after that I didn't think of him as an option; moreover, too much legacy attached with him, didn't want to risk. I guess I will talk with our VP - He is pretty much directly supervising me for last few month due to seriousness of my current assignment. Also I have heard that ppl whom our VP has recommended have gotten into schools in past, so I think he knows the drill pretty well.

BUT can I wait after GMAT is done (mid-Aug)? I mean I am worried if this thing stresses me out pre-GMAT, it might hampering my GMAT prep. That gives ~1.5 months before my 1st deadline. I am hoping to apply in 1-2 schools in R1 and 3-4 more in R2 later this year. Is that enough time, or would you guys recommend me start talking with him NOW?
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 04:37
I'm just starting this process too, so I don't necessary know the right answer.

But what i CAN say, is that every thing I read is that you want to tell your recommenders early, and that it's always the thing people are pulling their hair out over. Recommendations are the one thing on your application that you don't have complete control over making sure it's submitted on time, you have to rely on someone else.
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 04:52
Ask them when you are mentally ready to answer their questions coz they will ask where all are you applying, when do you plan to leave etc... at least i got these questions... even if you dont ask now make sure you get on top of their future vacation schedules...

Without my knowledge one of my recommenders went away on vacation earlier this month for a MONTH... and he is traveling all over the world... getting the reco out of him when he was on the move was a real pain... he would not have submitted if he was not a diligent, conscientious person... their vacation schedule has to be sync with your app schedule else your app will go into limbo and your blood pressure will go soaring...
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 13:30
How I went about it was presenting my b-school plans as a complete long shot. I told them I was considering going back to school and would most likely be doing the evening program locally, but figured I owed it to myself to at least submit an application for a few very top programs just in case, and asked if they would they support me by writing a recommendation. I said I knew how competitive these schools were and that I only had like a 15% chance, but would be mad at myself later if I didn't even try because it would be an amazing opportunity. I quoted the school's acceptance rates, so don't feel this was in any way dishonest. They said would be sad if I left but would of course help me and wished me good luck!

This helped me to let them know my plans early on and gain their support while making it seem improbable that I would actually be leaving. I let them know that if by some chance I was accepted, they would have at least 3-4 months after I found out to transition to someone else, so they continued to assign me projects as if I would be staying, since that was still the most likely scenario. As a bonus I came across as someone who was goal-oriented and willing to take a chance on something, which would look good even if I did end up staying
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 15:18
extrastarch wrote:

jko wrote:

Michmax3 wrote:

MBAji wrote:


Thanks everybody SO MUCH for responding. I can't appreciate more. All these advises are so helpful.

Based on all your recommendations, this is what I will do. I think as all of you said I MUST tell my recommenders well in advance, no point in delaying. I will tell one my recommenders this week and the other one as soon as he gets back from his vacation.

I will follow exactly what Michmax3 advised while communicating with my recommenders. I will tell them: the chances are low and I just want to give it a shot at the least; although I am not even sure what program and all, and whether he is willing to recommend me.

Last concern/questions: Is it a good idea to tell recommenders to, if possible, keep the voice low on this and not to tell other management authorities for now? Does that look unprofessional? Thoughts on this? If this is a good idea, how to go about expressing this to the recommenders?

Last edited by abhicoolmax on 12 Jul 2011, 16:27, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2011, 15:47
abhicoolmax wrote:

Last concern/questions: Is it a good idea to tell recommenders to, if possible, keep the voice low on this and not to tell other management authorities for now? Does that look unprofessional? Thoughts on this? If this is a good idea, how to go about expressing this to the recommenders?


If you are concerned about it maybe say something along the lines of: Of course I will let you know the very moment I hear back from the schools, but if possible I'd rather not discuss with anyone else until then. Just don't want to get my hopes up until I know the outcome.

If they think the others need to know they will tell them anyway, you cant force them not to, but at least this way they can't say they didn't know you were'nt telling anyone else
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2011, 05:36
You can ask your recommenders to be discrete as the acceptance rate at your target BSchools is low and you wish to keep a low profile rather broadcasting it. Tell them you just don't want to be in the worst scenario to strike out and face questions from peers.
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2011, 14:39
Thanks guys. Yeah, I will say something similar to what Michmax3 and Michmax3 suggested. Truely appreciate your help!
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2011, 00:09
I did exactly what Michmax did. I spoke with my recommenders early, but really downplayed the fact that a successful letter meant I would be leaving. What I have learned from my mentors is they get hit up for all sorts of letters often and very rarely do those letters materialize into an employee leaving. My current boss assumed I would choose a part time program or wasn't 100% sure I would go back to school and tried to give me more interesting projects the next 9 months to entice me to stay. The other always knew I would not stay at the same company forever and began to really coach me for life outside of our company whether it was at school or somewhere else and seemed almost proud about writing the letter.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to ask early and have an idea what they will be asked to assess about you so they do not feel pressured or bitter when they are writing your letter. With an old VP I brought up a few situations that may remind them of times they witnessed me being a leader, dealing with conflict, thinking on my feet etc. to make them feel like I wasn't dumping all this work on them to do alone and get them thinking about it before I sent the letter.

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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 20 Jul 2011, 15:48
tigerbeck wrote:
I did exactly what Michmax did. I spoke with my recommenders early, but really downplayed the fact that a successful letter meant I would be leaving. What I have learned from my mentors is they get hit up for all sorts of letters often and very rarely do those letters materialize into an employee leaving. My current boss assumed I would choose a part time program or wasn't 100% sure I would go back to school and tried to give me more interesting projects the next 9 months to entice me to stay. The other always knew I would not stay at the same company forever and began to really coach me for life outside of our company whether it was at school or somewhere else and seemed almost proud about writing the letter.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to ask early and have an idea what they will be asked to assess about you so they do not feel pressured or bitter when they are writing your letter. With an old VP I brought up a few situations that may remind them of times they witnessed me being a leader, dealing with conflict, thinking on my feet etc. to make them feel like I wasn't dumping all this work on them to do alone and get them thinking about it before I sent the letter.

Becky


Thanks Becky and everybody else for your inputs.

Today I told one of my recommenders. I started with the easy one. I didn't necessarily have to hide anything or downplay with him, but I still made sure I am show him the clear picture and my intent for doing MBA. For the next recommender, I need to plan it well how to talk to him.

I invited him on a lunch. He asked me MANY MANY questions such as why? why now? future plans? how? etc etc. Then he gave me ton of suggestions as to what I should do in addition etc. It was very helpful conversation in-general for me. Although, I found it a bit awkward asking him to keep it low profile, but I still conveyed it and he agreed to keep it under the radar.

However, I did not get much chance to dive into the details on what these recommendation letters are all about. I emailed him thanking him and told him that when I finalize my schools and know more, I will send him further details. I plan to do that in 4 weeks after my GMAT. Do you guys think I should have told him what kind of questions that needs to be answered the recommendation letter? That way he could have start thinking about them now. Or, is it's enough for now? Any suggestion?

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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2011, 04:32
General Questions on recommendations regarding the exact responsibilities of person providing recos:
    write a letter either in school specified questionnaire, or free flowing as required
    post it directly to school (on company letter head? what if they are self employed or individual capacity)
    send it electronically via office email address if permitted (is this generally an option? is this preferred?)
    do they need to answer any follow up emails, calls as clarification to recommendation notes? reason I ask is that some of them are willing to write once but too busy of spend any further time on this
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2011, 19:48
Update:

Finally, I spoke with my second recommender, our VP, today. I was very open with my short term and long term goal with him. We had a very very long chat during lunch; moreover, after lunch we stood outside the office building under the bright sun talking philosophy.

With 17+ years of industry experience in his resume, he gave me lots of tips and was very helpful in general. He told me what he sees in me and how that matches with my vision. He likes to talk about himself - I have noticed the same in most achievers :-) - and I enjoyed listening to him with all my attention, as I believe one can only learn from others' life experiences in general. Also he suggested me different career paths that I can take at my current work, and different roles and responsibilities I should strive for within my company.

We also discussed a lot about personal goals, and how that could have bearing on long term vision. So talking with recommender helps; of-course a lot depends on your relation with him/her, but more often than not it is helpful.

I tired my best to keep the idea of MBA abstract and keep the focus more on my career in general. So, I think I successfully conveyed that MBA is just a tool for me, not the goal, for the long-term vision that I have. Moreover, like Becky, I convey that it might just be part-time as I an still deciding. Also, I requested to keep it low profile - but it is up to him. He was very happy to recommend me for MBA in the end :-).

Thanks everybody for helping me get through this step.

Now, back to GMAT cave ;-)
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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2011, 07:15
Any piece of advise on the level of recommenders - I hear schools stressing on the fact that it is better to get recommendation from a person who knows you really well rather than a person with lots of experience (like - VP,SVP,COO,CEO,etc) who does not know you really so well.

I understand my aim is to - Get the best possible recommendation that supports my story (case study) with some new insights that are not presented in my essays - Recommendations should show that the recommender is really passionate and personal about me and my story. So obviously choosing the person who knows me really well appears to be the LOGICAL choice.
BUT, what about the level of recommenders ?

I want to understand the thin line between the qualifications/experience/credibility of recommenders and the level that the recommender really knows you ?
What is the weight age for each of them from the AdCom angle?
Any piece of advise on this aspect ?

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Re: Need advice on when/how to ask my recommenders   [#permalink] 19 Aug 2011, 07:15
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