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Recommendation Letters from Peers

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Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 11 May 2013, 19:58
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Hello Everybody!

Even though I have appeared for the GMAT once with a meager score of 640, I have not been involved in the application process for any college. Since I have a WE of 4 years, I have been told that recommendation letters cover a very important part of the application. I do plan to retake the exam and apply to a few colleges the next year. I was hoping if anyone could tell me how important the recommendations are, and how much weightage they carry in an application, especially if the application is to one of the top 15 colleges. I understand the importance may vary from college to college, but in general can an applicant be accepted into any of the top 15 colleges without any recommendations? Is a good score and profile enough for interview calls?

Also, regarding the choice of recommenders, is it wise to choose recommenders from the higher levels of management, or is it better to go with the immediate peers? Does the designation of the recommender put a significant impact on the applicant's chances for getting an interview? I come from a technology background and I am currently working in an MNC with relatively less access to my higher management. The senior managers here do not take it well, when it comes to employees applying for other positions and MBAs. Hence, I feel my performance may be undervalued in the recommendation, if I approach them in this regard. But if its necessary, I can manage a proper recommendation letter from them as well.

Please guide me regarding who should be my ideal choices for the recommendations over the applications.

Regards,
Arpan
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 14 May 2013, 05:47
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Dear Arpan,
Well there is no real "general rule" for who you should choose (other than that you should select from amongst your supervisors or their supervisors). Recommendations are a pretty personal thing, and as you might imagine the single most important thing when it comes to getting the recommendation is choosing the right person. So who is the right person? (rhetorical question here)... First and foremost it will be the boss who likes you most. If they like you they will likely write great stuff, and the recommendation will give off a great FEELING. Next, you don't want to just choose anyone arbitrarily, but the person who has witnessed you at your best - so try and choose a recommender that has seen the best work, the most leadership, the strongest achievements. After that how well you know someone should come into question. So if you are working every day with someone, their recommendation will likely carry more weight than if it's someone who you see once a month. Finally, how important the person is should also be taken into account. All things equal, a recommendation from a CEO is better than one from a Team Leader. Of course this is provided that the CEO actually knows you!

I hope these thoughts get you started off on the right foot!
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 14 May 2013, 09:18
JonAdmissionado wrote:
Dear Arpan,
Well there is no real "general rule" for who you should choose (other than that you should select from amongst your supervisors or their supervisors). Recommendations are a pretty personal thing, and as you might imagine the single most important thing when it comes to getting the recommendation is choosing the right person. So who is the right person? (rhetorical question here)... First and foremost it will be the boss who likes you most. If they like you they will likely write great stuff, and the recommendation will give off a great FEELING. Next, you don't want to just choose anyone arbitrarily, but the person who has witnessed you at your best - so try and choose a recommender that has seen the best work, the most leadership, the strongest achievements. After that how well you know someone should come into question. So if you are working every day with someone, their recommendation will likely carry more weight than if it's someone who you see once a month. Finally, how important the person is should also be taken into account. All things equal, a recommendation from a CEO is better than one from a Team Leader. Of course this is provided that the CEO actually knows you!

I hope these thoughts get you started off on the right foot!


Thank you for the info Jon! I was eagerly waiting for this thread to be answered :)

Lemme sum up your choice of recommenders from my perspective/situation. After reading your post I feel I can manage 2 recommenders as of now.
1. As you have mentioned, the choice should include people/bosses who like me and most importantly, have a good idea of my work performance and/or have worked with me. I believe my immediate peers who work with me and are in good terms with me and my work (obviously, ppl with grudges and long history of arguments should not make the cut :-D ), get the slot here! So I feel my Team Lead would definitely be suited for this. He has recommended me for several awards under the company and feels I am a consistent performer.
2. Also, since you mentioned that the designation does put an impact on the relevance of the letters, I feel my Project Manager should be an ideal 'Second Recommender' choice. And I have just the person in mind, for it. My Project was recently upgraded and the Manager was changed. My ex-PM who worked with me for quite a time has moved to a different location. I can definitely request him to become a recommender and I am prity sure I will be getting stellar letters about my performance at work.

So, as per your opinion, the choice of recommenders should strike a balance between the designation-importance and the positive review-importance factor. Then what comes in my mind is the content factor. As I choose the higher-ups for the recommendation, I feel they will lack the personal touch for the letters. The content of the letters would also become extremely brief. Since I will be applying for quite a few colleges, it would certainly become difficult for people working at higher designations to fill up the letters for all the colleges. So I guess I'd have to come up with a priority list of colleges where I'd give my best shot and the rest where I'd be okay with my score and essays to make an impression.

I was wondering if you could tell me, would it be wise to go with the above plan of action or do I really need to go for Senior Project Mangers and Directors for the letters? Also, would 2 recommenders be enough for a top-10 college application? I had taken a break from study for a year when I worked for a practicing Psychiatrist as his temporary assistant as part of a non-monetary initiative. Although the job does not hold any technical significance(was in-charge of his schedule and inventory maintenance) and was off-books, I can manage a recommendation from him as well! Would it help my case as a third Recommendation?

I would certainly hope to hear more from you over the topic and request you to guide me build my profile for the colleges like Yale or Cornell.

Looking forward to your reply!

Regards,
Arpan

**edited post: P.S: I am sorry the post became a lil too lengthy :)
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 15 May 2013, 05:01
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Dear Arpan,
Your current Team Lead sounds to me to be a great choice. For choice 2, it depends on what your resume looks like. From your note, I understand that both your Team Lead and Project Manager are from your current employer???? (correct me if I am wrong). If you have had more than one employer, then it may be a bit boring for the Adcom to read two recommendations about the same activities. So first I would suggest looking for a good recommender in a previous firm ( or perhaps the psychologist??) if that is relevant. If not, then yes, you can for sure use two recommenders from the same workplace (many of my clients have) you just have to ensure that they will not write about the same things so that you are getting the most possible out of each recommender.

There is no need for you to go to Senior people if you do not know them personally, and/or if they will write generic/bored recommendations. Excitement is more important!!! For our psychiatrist, I think I prefer him as a third "Extra recommendation", because he can really add anew perspective and perhaps write very nice things, but it may not be the most relevant, so you don't want to go overboard there.


Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to write more if you have further questions,
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 15 May 2013, 05:04
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Hello Arpan,

You have already got good advice, but I am still leaving a reply for your reference. Most B schools are okay with two letters though you might have the option of uploading additional letters for some schools. Your first two choices seem correct as both have a good insight into and opinion about your professional performance. However, I am not too sure if the third person will add much value to your application. Recommendation letters are indeed important parts of any application as they are third-party endorsements of the values/strengths/achievements you claim to have. They provide a fresh perspective to the ad com. The psychiatrist might add a new dimension to your profile (and variety IS important), but if he does not have anything substantial to say regarding you or your qualities that might be useful in a B school or later in your career, then it does not make much sense to take a letter from him. Having said that, I would not completely negate it since I am not aware of the details of your association with him and will leave it up to you to decide whether there are things that he can talk about that might be relevant as well as interesting. Lastly, generally B school letters are in a Q&A format, so do ensure your recommenders have answers to all the questions and can portray your personality in the best possible manner from as many perspectives as possible. Try and distribute your strengths and examples in an authentic yet well-rounded fashion among the letters and do not crowd both the letters with similar and numerous points.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Sinchita Ganguly
Admissions Advisor
Manya - The Princeton Review
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 15 May 2013, 08:00
JonAdmissionado wrote:
Dear Arpan,
Your current Team Lead sounds to me to be a great choice. For choice 2, it depends on what your resume looks like. From your note, I understand that both your Team Lead and Project Manager are from your current employer???? (correct me if I am wrong). If you have had more than one employer, then it may be a bit boring for the Adcom to read two recommendations about the same activities. So first I would suggest looking for a good recommender in a previous firm ( or perhaps the psychologist??) if that is relevant. If not, then yes, you can for sure use two recommenders from the same workplace (many of my clients have) you just have to ensure that they will not write about the same things so that you are getting the most possible out of each recommender.

There is no need for you to go to Senior people if you do not know them personally, and/or if they will write generic/bored recommendations. Excitement is more important!!! For our psychiatrist, I think I prefer him as a third "Extra recommendation", because he can really add anew perspective and perhaps write very nice things, but it may not be the most relevant, so you don't want to go overboard there.


Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to write more if you have further questions,


Thanks for replying back again Jon!

I have been working for 4 years under the same firm since the stating of my career. My interests in social activities led me to assist one of the leading Psychiatrists in my state, but as I have mentioned it was purely non-commercial.

My Tech Lead and PM belong to the same company i.e the one I am current stationed in. But a possible variation to their recommendations can be that my PM has worked with me for a first 2 years of my career when I joined the company. His opinion on my performance in the early days of my career, can be used. On the other hand, my TL has started working with me since the last year, so he would be the best judge of my current work standards. Since both the recommenders belong to different time frames under my job tenure, I believe their recommendations will keep the ADCOM interested.

Also, I felt that a majority of the colleges abroad look for community service and students actively participating in them. Under a majority of the profiles I have read, I found applicants with enormous amounts of community service hours and experiences of helping old-age homes and juvenile prison facilities as part of rehabilitation. Even though my 6 month job did not involve any active participation under the treatment process of the patients, I felt responsible for them and the process of assisting the doctor enabled me to take care of several troubled people under his care by taking active part under their rehabilitation. I thought the experience was worth sharing as a possible recommendation since the doctor and I are in very good terms and he speaks very highly of me. Since India as such does not have any mandatory community service assigned to students, I felt the above could give me an edge and probably put me at par with other applicants who have the same.

I am still skeptical over using the third recommendation, but I am certain the first two will be proper! Also, I was wondering if I decide to drop the idea of including my third recommendation, how can I highlight the above in my application so as to present a stronger case. Since I am keeping in mind applications for the top-15 colleges, I feel I have to do and be better than a majority of the applicants. As you are already aware of the fact that even though the application procedures for international students is getting stringent, there is significant interest in ADCOMs to enroll culturally diverse students for full-time courses. I want to make my profile strong enough to sustain that interest from the ADCOMs :)

Quote:
Hello Arpan,

You have already got good advice, but I am still leaving a reply for your reference. Most B schools are okay with two letters though you might have the option of uploading additional letters for some schools. Your first two choices seem correct as both have a good insight into and opinion about your professional performance. However, I am not too sure if the third person will add much value to your application. Recommendation letters are indeed important parts of any application as they are third-party endorsements of the values/strengths/achievements you claim to have. They provide a fresh perspective to the ad com. The psychiatrist might add a new dimension to your profile (and variety IS important), but if he does not have anything substantial to say regarding you or your qualities that might be useful in a B school or later in your career, then it does not make much sense to take a letter from him. Having said that, I would not completely negate it since I am not aware of the details of your association with him and will leave it up to you to decide whether there are things that he can talk about that might be relevant as well as interesting. Lastly, generally B school letters are in a Q&A format, so do ensure your recommenders have answers to all the questions and can portray your personality in the best possible manner from as many perspectives as possible. Try and distribute your strengths and examples in an authentic yet well-rounded fashion among the letters and do not crowd both the letters with similar and numerous points.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Sinchita Ganguly
Admissions Advisor
Manya - The Princeton Review


Thanks for the reply Sinchita! I will keep your advice in mind. As you have rightly mentioned, all the recommenders are to portray a consistent and commendable picture of my personality so as to get the due attention from the ADCOM. I would certainly love to hear your ideas of possible structures/frameworks of making recommendation letters more visible to ADCOMs, so that they do not go over board but also make the me stand out. My recommenders would naturally come back to me over the degree in which they are to highlight my achievements under the content. I would love to hear your inputs on this! Also, Please read my reply to Jon and comment on my plan of action so far. I would also request you to provide me insight on how should I be making up for my short comings in terms of community service if I am not to highlight my job under the good doctor.

Also, since it has come to community service, I would also like to add that I am a permanent member of the Rotary Club for quite some time and have volunteered and organized blood donation drives and other social initative. I am also a member of the Eco-Club under my company and have actively been a part of it since its inception. Should the above be enough for Community service contributions under an application? Also, do the applications require written documents for the same as part of justification? I would be arrange the same from the Club President very easily. Its extremely critical I understand, how much needs to be highlighted and to what degree :) Please advise!

Once again, I thank both of you for taking the time to go through my huge posts with patience! and replying back with such wonderful content feedback :) I really appreciate it guys! :) Thank you!

Regards,
Arpan
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 16 May 2013, 00:48
Dear Arpan,

I am glad you found my advice useful. As much as I would like to help you through this forum, let me tell you that every B school application is unique. Every school has its own values and strong points; it has its own set of requirements and parameters in terms of what kind of candidates it wants in its class. Once you shortlist the universities and really get down to working on the application, you will see that they have their own set of essays, statements, letters, and resumes. The formats would vary, the numbers would vary, and the specifications would vary. Therefore, application strategies have to be worked out for every university separately. Treat each application individually and give it sufficient time and thought. Based on requirements, you would need to decide what content should go where.

If I am to give you general advice, then I would say that your community service can be highlighted in several places - you will have a section in the resume, your corporate contributions can be highlighted in one of your LORs, and you might just have essays in the application asking for these. So, like I said, it is important that you customize applications individually. Community service is certainly very important and has to be portrayed in the right way in the right places of the application.

As to the content of your recommendation letters, you can probably think of some of your major strengths - points like leadership, team spirit, problem solving skills, innovative mindset, business sense, communication skills, etc. You can help your recommenders in remembering instances when you have demonstrated these strengths and then quote them in the letters. Remember, it is not sufficient to just say that you are a good leader but to prove the point with examples is all the more important. Depending on what kind of work you have done with/under each recommender, you can probably take 3-4 qualities in each letter. Again, all this is very generic advice and it is best to decide on the content after seeing the entire application.

Therefore, I advise you to first shortlist your universities and probably then take some professional help to create a winning profile!

All the best!

Sinchita Ganguly
Admissions Advisor
Manya - The Princeton Review
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 16 May 2013, 11:35
Thanks again Sinchita! As always your advice over the topic is much appreciated :)

I completely agree with you, as nothing can be generalized when it comes to applying to a top B-school. The school would obviously want to test its candidates in the best and the most unique possible of ways. The pattern of essays and questions would then emerge to be different for each school and so would the thought-process to approach them.

As I feel the task of completely handling the research and application part alone for the number of schools I am planning would be tedious with my work-pressure, I do feel the need of taking professional help in these matters. I am to appear my GMAT in August, and as soon as I do manage a worthy score, Id be looking into the application procedure for my target schools and hire help in this regard as well.

I appreciate the time and patience spent on reading and replying back on my posts! :) I do hope we can stay in touch via email correspondence or possibly over the forum for further guidance over the topic! :)

Regards,
Arpan
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 20 May 2013, 21:07
Dear Arpan,

That seems to be a good idea! Go for your GMAT first and then you can hire professional help. Wish you all the best for your GMAT! And you are always welcome to contact me through this forum and/or e-mail if you feel I can help you in any way.

Also, when the time comes, you can check Manya Group's official website as we offer comprehensive study abroad services like test preparation, profiling of schools, admissions counselling, application assistance, visa assistance, financial counselling and others that you might find useful.

See you till then!

Good luck again!

Sinchita Ganguly
Admissions Advisor
Manya - The Princeton Review
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 19:17
I have a query here.. how much does the English proficiency of the person who is recommending you matters? Especially in a scenario when that person is a non-native English speaker...

Please comment


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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 03:52
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Not all that much (read: not at all). You have two good choices with recommenders whose English is not good:
1. If it's good but not fantastic, they can just write their recommendation in their English, with mistakes and all. In fact this can even add to the authenticity of their voice. The most important thing is that they remain very excited about you, even with their less than perfect English.
2. If they do not speak any English at all, or very little, then translation is the only way to go (they should have it done, a secretary or whatever). If they do this, then you or they might want to make a note of this somewhere in case the school wants to contact them for some reason.
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 05:00
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jainlokesh wrote:
I have a query here.. how much does the English proficiency of the person who is recommending you matters? Especially in a scenario when that person is a non-native English speaker...

Please comment


Cheers !!
Lokesh


As John has mentioned, the recommendation letters are all about content. The writing skills of the recommender are of less consequence as long as he/she writes the right stuff about you :) In such scenarios I believe a proper discussion with your recommender is extremely necessary so that you would have a chance to highlight the things that need to be mentioned in the letters along with the chronology of contents so as to make the letters more impressive.

Hope it helps! Please do read the thread above regading the choice of recommenders. John and Sinchita have been kind enough to explain the whole process very elaborately.

Regards,
Arpan
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Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 18:38
Hi Jon & Apran,

Thanks for your valuable feedback. Point taken :)

Cheers !!
Lokesh
Re: Recommendation Letters from Peers   [#permalink] 22 May 2013, 18:38
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