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I just had a talk with them on how the process works (I'm the first person they are recommending) and gave them some pointers on how to address the questions (eg: to use examples vs. just writing he's great, etc.). They both know my career quite well so no need for essay sharing but I would not say it's a bad idea.
Here's a list of what you can give them. I did some of this, but not all:
â€¢ Deadlines â€¢ Copies of forms and addresses if doing it by paper
â€¢ Copies of essays â€¢ Description of positioning strategy â€¢ Main points for each school â€¢ Samples of work
â€¢ Copies of evals
â€¢ Resume and how activities relate to b-school
â€¢ Canned descriptions of stories
â€¢ General instructions
The stuff in bold is what I handed over. I didn't give them all the essays for each school, just a couple that i felt were particularly insightful.
I think it's key that you explain how b-school recommendations are different from regular job references. If they aren't used to this, they might be surprised to learn the actual depth.