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Who to ask for your second recommendation letter?

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Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2013, 13:43
Hi all,

I've looked around quite a bit for previous threads on this topic and couldn't find much (if there are, I'd appreciate a redirect).

Anyway, I've been at my job for just over 2 years now, and was at my previous job for 2 years as well. My current firm is more of a feeder firm to business schools, and we usually have at least one analyst apply per year. So, I have reason to believe my supervisors "get" the whole process, e.g. they generally know how to structure their recommendation letters, know what to highlight, etc. My first job was at your typical "small" business, with very little middle management. As a result, entry level folks tended to either stay for 5+ yrs without the MBA or leave after 1 or 2 years to find a new position. I had a positive experience at both jobs, but they were very different environments (and could potentially highlight different strengths).

I'd like to ask my current supervisor and my former supervisor, but I am concerned that my former supervisor is completely new to the process and might not know how to position the letter. I'm almost certain he's never written a recommendation letter for an MBA program before, nor did he attend business school. I'm worried that what he'll say won't match in tone to my other letter and might raise some questions about the company.

Can anyone weigh in on whether having a recommendation letter from more than one firm is of value? Would it raise a red flag on my first job if both of my letters came from the same firm?

Would his relative inexperience reflect poorly on the firm or on me?

Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 04:55
lnds1001 wrote:
Hi all,

I've looked around quite a bit for previous threads on this topic and couldn't find much (if there are, I'd appreciate a redirect).

Anyway, I've been at my job for just over 2 years now, and was at my previous job for 2 years as well. My current firm is more of a feeder firm to business schools, and we usually have at least one analyst apply per year. So, I have reason to believe my supervisors "get" the whole process, e.g. they generally know how to structure their recommendation letters, know what to highlight, etc. My first job was at your typical "small" business, with very little middle management. As a result, entry level folks tended to either stay for 5+ yrs without the MBA or leave after 1 or 2 years to find a new position. I had a positive experience at both jobs, but they were very different environments (and could potentially highlight different strengths).

I'd like to ask my current supervisor and my former supervisor, but I am concerned that my former supervisor is completely new to the process and might not know how to position the letter. I'm almost certain he's never written a recommendation letter for an MBA program before, nor did he attend business school. I'm worried that what he'll say won't match in tone to my other letter and might raise some questions about the company.

Can anyone weigh in on whether having a recommendation letter from more than one firm is of value? Would it raise a red flag on my first job if both of my letters came from the same firm?

Would his relative inexperience reflect poorly on the firm or on me?

Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!


There are a couple of points you need to know:

1. Many B-schools have done away with the concept of a 'letter' of recommendation. Often, the recommender has to log onto a web portal and fill out a questionnaire about you. He would have to rate you on some parameters like leadership, teamwork, cross-cultural sensitivity etc. and would also have to give brief written answers to specific questions about your personal and professional qualities. (for e.g. what would you recommend as an area of improvement for the candidate? Do you think the candidate is suitable for senior leadership positions?) This process is much easier for the recommender than having to write a letter of recommendation. So your former supervisor may not have too much trouble with this.

2. You must take the time out to prep your recommender - by the way, this holds true not just for your former supervisor, but also for your current one. Give him a copy of your application essays and also a bulleted list of the key messages you want to bring out through your application. Perhaps you could even jog his memory about aspects of your work at the previous company that you want him to highlight. Also make sure he understands your career goals.

Put together, these should help you counteract his relative inexperience. :)

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Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 07:45
I think your former supervisor will be perfectly fine as a recommender. For those of us coming from non feeder industries/firms, we have to educate, hand hold and brief our recommenders because it is likely to be the first time they have encountered it. I think (and hope) that this is not a disadvantage, it's just a case of having to do a big more leg work.
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Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 08:15
Expert's post
Here are some more potential answers here: search.php?search_id=tag&tag_id=103 though your question is somewhat specific.... but ultimately comes down to who to ask for a recommendation from.
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Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 15:24
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Hi there,

I think you should definitely explore having one of your recommendations come from your previous firm. Because it was small, they might have been able to see you behave in ways your current employer may not be able to speak to. And because it was only 2 years ago, it is still relevant.

I understand your concern about the relative inexperienced nature of the writer but you can coach them on this. I hate to be the person who posts a link to their own website to answer a question but we wrote about how to pick recommenders and you can find the article here.

If you're concerned about the recommender the best thing you can do is prep him or her extensively and then stay involved. Touch base every few weeks to see how it's going. Send them examples of good MBA recommendation letters. Help them understand the process.

It's a lot of work but it's doable and I think their perspective would add a lot to your application.

If not, two recommendations from the same firm isn't the end of the world. Just make sure they don't say the same things!

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Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter? [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2013, 07:57
bb wrote:
Here are some more potential answers here: search.php?search_id=tag&tag_id=103 though your question is somewhat specific.... but ultimately comes down to who to ask for a recommendation from.


Thanks bb and everyone else! I looked through some of these threads before, but as you said, my situation is sort of specific.

It seems as though it has more to do with how well the person can speak to your "story" than anything else. Initially, when I approached my previous supervisor about business school (he offered to write a recommendation at that point), he seemed convinced that he didn't want/need any additional info about the process. Our 20 minute conversation was "enough" for him to know what to write about (and how). I think I will choose to politely disagree, and offer up some example essays, stories, and insights from the essays I'm crafting.

I personally think having diverse perspectives is a positive (from two jobs as opposed to just one), and so I'm leaning in that direction at the moment. If anyone else is in a similar position, I'd love to hear how you made your decision.
Re: Who to ask for your second recommendation letter?   [#permalink] 21 Aug 2013, 07:57
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