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Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous.

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Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2013, 15:39
Hello all,
I have been at my current job for a little over a year, and I am torn on whether or not to ask my current supervisor for a recommendation letter for Bschool.
First of all, I don't think he is a very good writer, or a very intelligent person for that matter. Plus I have a highly esteemed professor and a previous employer who are both very well written and would write me a glowing recommendation. I'm sure that my current supervisor would write me a good recommendation, and I don't really think that it would hurt my job prospects (it's not a job I plan to keep long term anyways), but if it would not hurt my chances at being admitted, I'd rather not ask him for the recommendation.
The only problem is that the previous employer is from a part time job I worked during school from the time I graduated highschool to the time I graduated college in 2012.
Would this hurt my application if I got my recommendations from the professor and previous PT employer and not my current FT employer?
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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2013, 21:33
zcdh30 wrote:
Hello all,
I have been at my current job for a little over a year, and I am torn on whether or not to ask my current supervisor for a recommendation letter for Bschool.
First of all, I don't think he is a very good writer, or a very intelligent person for that matter. Plus I have a highly esteemed professor and a previous employer who are both very well written and would write me a glowing recommendation. I'm sure that my current supervisor would write me a good recommendation, and I don't really think that it would hurt my job prospects (it's not a job I plan to keep long term anyways), but if it would not hurt my chances at being admitted, I'd rather not ask him for the recommendation.
The only problem is that the previous employer is from a part time job I worked during school from the time I graduated highschool to the time I graduated college in 2012.
Would this hurt my application if I got my recommendations from the professor and previous PT employer and not my current FT employer?


You hit straight

Your referee must be able to write clearly, must be able to articulate nicely. So does not matter whether current or past, engage someone who knows you inside out and who can write well and who got time and who does things seriously.

If this comfort you, my referees were from different units of my current company, my decade+ old first boss and my decade+ old business partner.

It is not about your current or past but about
In what position they knew you
how closely they knows you
how good are they in expressing their views in writing.

the admission process is indeed very simple, just do your best.
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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2013, 02:57
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I don't necessarily agree. First of all, all B-schools expect you to have a recommendation from your current employer. If you can't get one for whatever reason (the most common being you don't want to endanger your job or promotion options) then you MUST explain this to the AdCom. Secondly, the fact that your other option is from a part-time job only makes you getting a recommendation from your current employer all the more necessary. The most important thing when selecting your recommender is that they be excited about you. They don't have to be novelists or geniuses, but as long as it glows, then it can be good. And if your boss is not that great a writer, then perhaps arrange it so that he will be assisted. Another option you may have, if you feel your direct supervisor won't write a great recommendation is to ask one of his supervisors, who knows your work well.

Hope this helps!!
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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2013, 05:49
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This is something I thought a lot about, too. I don't work in an industry where MBAs (or any form of graduate degrees) are particularly common. My immediate manager also isn't the strongest writer and wasn't the most supportive of me pursuing business school at the outset (thankfully he's come around a bit). I think I was able to find a happy medium--instead of asking him, I went to our office manager. He also oversees my work/performance, albeit in a slightly more hands-off fashion. He still gives me feedback and had also applied to MBA programs, so he "got" the process and is a better writer. For my other recommendation I used an extracurricular advisor (who I also happen to work with).

One thing I didn't expect is how flattered my recommenders to be asked--it ended up being a much more positive process than I had anticipated. I made it clear that I had asked them because I really valued their judgement and leadership, and also made sure to give them examples of strengths/weaknesses/responses to feedback/accomplishments, so there wasn't a lot of guess-work involved. I have no idea what they said since I waived my right to see them, but I'm really happy with my admits.

By the way, I had also been in my current position about a year.

I'm not sure if this is helpful for you or not, but my takeaway is to be strategic and thoughtful about this process. Maybe your immediate supervisor isn't a good choice. But I agree that it probably makes sense to have someone from your current workplace who manages you in some way, shape, or form. What about another manager in the office? Your boss's boss? There may be alternatives you haven't considered. Good luck!
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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2013, 15:30
Hi zcdh30 -

Interesting question. I have a few thoughts to share from my 15 years as a Director of MBA Admissions at a top 20 school.

- Unless you worked for the professor, I'd be reluctant to use that person as an MBA recommender. My experience with professor-written recommendations is that they are focused entirely on classroom performance, and don't speak at all to professional performance or potential.

- A recommendation from a supervisor at a part-time job is fairly weak, unless you did something that made a significant impact to their business.

(So far, this is sounding pretty dismal, isn't it? Don't worry - I'll get to some positive news soon!)

- Your current supervisor may not be the strongest in terms of written language skills. However, if he can provide the Admissions Committee with insights into your professional performance, then it is of value. The committee will not judge *you* by his lack of grammar, etc. They will consider the content. So, your decision should be based on this question: Can he provide content that will help sell you to the Admissions Committee? Because this is your only professional full-time employment, you may need to use him.

I recall receiving a letter of recommendation written by an elderly man, and scribbled on an odd size of note paper. At face value, you may think this would look very bad for the applicant. However, this recommender told a poignant story about how the applicant helped him run his business and created changes that very important for the continuity of the business. It was of high value to the admissions process.

Conversely, I've received letters from former Presidents (of the U.S.) that said, "I know this young man's family and they are great supporters of my campaign. They are good people and I'm sure he is as well." Guess what? That letter - despite it coming from a former President - carried a negative value for the Admissions Committee. Why? The candidate went for a "glamour" recommender, who clearly did not know him, and could not speak to his professional performance.

- If you don't want to use your current supervisor, this is easily explained (and be sure you do explain it) to the Admissions Committee as not wanting to jeopardize your current employment (as noted by JonAdmissionado).

- Who else can provide a reflection of your professional performance and potential? Clients? Vendors? Community leaders who you've worked with on a significant volunteer role?

I hope these observations are helpful to you. Just remember - who you select as a recommender reflects your professional judgement. Demonstrate good professional judgement!

Let me know if I can help you further.
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15 Years as Director of MBA Admissions - Now Working For the Applicants as the MBA Admissions Coach
Wendy Flynn is the MBA Admissions Coach, providing comprehensive MBA admissions consulting services. As the former Director of MBA Admissions for 15 years at a top-30 MBA pgoram, Wendy holds deep expertise in admissions issues for Full-Time, Executive and Professional (Part-Time) MBA Programs. Through her blog, MBA Expert Insights, she brings the view of the Director of MBA admissions to MBA applicants and others.


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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2013, 22:42
I can't tell you who to select as recommender but i found this article with some tips i think you should consider.
http://www.aringo.com/Recommendations.htm
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Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous. [#permalink] New post 08 Apr 2013, 02:39
JonAdmissionado wrote:
I don't necessarily agree. First of all, all B-schools expect you to have a recommendation from your current employer. If you can't get one for whatever reason (the most common being you don't want to endanger your job or promotion options) then you MUST explain this to the AdCom. Secondly, the fact that your other option is from a part-time job only makes you getting a recommendation from your current employer all the more necessary. The most important thing when selecting your recommender is that they be excited about you. They don't have to be novelists or geniuses, but as long as it glows, then it can be good. And if your boss is not that great a writer, then perhaps arrange it so that he will be assisted. Another option you may have, if you feel your direct supervisor won't write a great recommendation is to ask one of his supervisors, who knows your work well.

Hope this helps!!


Thanks for not agreeing with me. Different people has different opinions and many a times we never know who is correct.

Let me share a very simple fact of MBA admission

An excellent reference just add some value (?) to your overall admission, but it never makes. Where as a slightly bad reference will break your admission.
Re: Recommendation letters from current employer vs. previous.   [#permalink] 08 Apr 2013, 02:39
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