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How to choose the right recommenders?

Aringo 0

We get a lot of questions from MBA candidates about how to select recommenders who will write an excellent LOR for the candidate, so we would like to share some tips and guidelines for selecting recommenders.
Here's some advice on which recommenders to select:

1. The level of excitement that the recommender demonstrates, and the reasons for this excitement (supporting examples), are most important.
2. The longer and more intense the acquaintance is, the better.
3. Recommendations that describe the candidate's background in the exact same industry name mentioned in the career plan are preferred.
4. Recommendations that attest to the candidate's leadership and management background are preferred.

In general, schools are looking for recommenders who know the candidate very well, on the basis of an experience that is:
- As long as possible.
- As intense as possible.
- Experience that is preferably work-related.
A lukewarm recommendation or one that reflects little acquaintance will not do the job, no matter who provided it. Having said that, an excited recommendation from a big shot which reflects close acquaintance is ideal, and much stronger than an excited recommendation from a junior manager.

Other things to consider:
- Schools prefer recommendations from bosses, unless they state otherwise.
- It is not recommended to use more than one recommendation from the same workplace.
- Recent relationships are better than "old" relationships.
- Schools prefer recommendations from a "direct supervisor". However, they also like recommendations from senior people.
- A recommendation from the current workplace is often a must. If the candidate can't bring one, they usually need to add a note explaining why.
- A recommendation from a professor is usually not recommended unless they worked for him - he was their boss (for example, as teaching assistant). However, note that a few schools actually REQUIRE a recommendation from a professor.
- A recommendation from a family firm is usually not recommended if it is written by a family member. However, if it is written by someone senior in a big firm, who is not a family member, even though the firm is owned by the family, it may be ok.
- A recommendation from a client is usually not recommended unless it is a very impressive client (big name firm). However, recommendations from clients can serve as a way out for people who have only worked in family firms and don’t have other potential recommenders to choose from.
- If possible, it is better to select recommendations that provide different angles on the candidate.
- Recommenders who are alumni of the same school that the recommendation is submitted to are more effective than non-alumni recommenders (not critical, but helpful).
- Recommendations from very big shots (e.g. government ministers, famous people) are great if the context is of mutual activity (preferably direct/indirect supervisor) and the content reflects acquaintance and excitement. If not, they don't necessarily help and may even hurt.
- Pay special attention to the "recommendations instructions" section that each school provides (instructions to the candidate - which recommenders to choose etc., and instructions to the recommender). Their specific requirements must be met.

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