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Should I start on my recommendations now?

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Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:24
I want to get going on my recommendations letter for my 2010 application and give my recommenders a head start. But it seems as some schools have specific questions they like to have answered.

Do these questions change from year to year, like essay questions? I don't want to have my recommenders go through the ordeal now, and be forced to change it later. But if I wait till later this year, I don't think that they'll have enough time.

Thoughts?

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:34
if you're applying to multiple schools, u will find a lot of similarity in these questions and also some of them publish the questions before hand and don't change either. So it's not a bad idea to get started.
Also, check out those q's yourself and try to create a 1page doc that highlights the professional and outside work accomplishments etc u have as a prep sheet for your recommenders. It would also be agood idea to share your resume to them.
good luck!

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:35
bigfernhead wrote:
I want to get going on my recommendations letter for my 2010 application and give my recommenders a head start. But it seems as some schools have specific questions they like to have answered.

Do these questions change from year to year, like essay questions? I don't want to have my recommenders go through the ordeal now, and be forced to change it later. But if I wait till later this year, I don't think that they'll have enough time.

Thoughts?


They don't change the questions really, but do you really want recommenders to start writing about you with 6+ months of time left for you to continue building on your accomplishments?

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:36
I would wait until the questions are out. However, you can start preparing about yourself (your short term/long term goals, accomplishments etc) that you can hand it over to your recommenders when they are ready to write one.
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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:38
The people I'm seeking recommendations no longer works with me. I do want to give them the time to think through things before writing.

They are busy, so the more time I can give them, the better. This is especially true if I'm applying to multiple schools, and they have multiple letters to write.

zoinnk wrote:
bigfernhead wrote:
I want to get going on my recommendations letter for my 2010 application and give my recommenders a head start. But it seems as some schools have specific questions they like to have answered.

Do these questions change from year to year, like essay questions? I don't want to have my recommenders go through the ordeal now, and be forced to change it later. But if I wait till later this year, I don't think that they'll have enough time.

Thoughts?


They don't change the questions really, but do you really want recommenders to start writing about you with 6+ months of time left for you to continue building on your accomplishments?

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:43
bigfernhead wrote:
I want to get going on my recommendations letter for my 2010 application and give my recommenders a head start. But it seems as some schools have specific questions they like to have answered.

Do these questions change from year to year, like essay questions? I don't want to have my recommenders go through the ordeal now, and be forced to change it later. But if I wait till later this year, I don't think that they'll have enough time.

Thoughts?


Most people tend to tell their recommenders around July, providing them August and September to craft recommendation letters for an early October submission.

However, the reality is that 80% of recommenders won't even start on the letter until the first week of October. I see no reason to tell them now.

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 13:47
This is a good point. I'm going through the schools websites now, and some of them don't even "old" recommendation questions listed. Bummer.

I always thought it paid to be early ;-)

leonidas wrote:
I would wait until the questions are out. However, you can start preparing about yourself (your short term/long term goals, accomplishments etc) that you can hand it over to your recommenders when they are ready to write one.


Chicago's GSB seems pretty flexible in the letter of recommendation requirements. I found this on their website:

Quote:
We ask that all applicants submit two letters of recommendation.

One professional recommendation from a supervisor - This does not have to be a current supervisor although it is preferred. We are seeking objectivity in the letter and we want to hear from someone who can assess both your strengths and your weaknesses. If you work for a family business or you own your own company, please try to secure a letter from a client or a bank that does business with you.
The second letter can be professional in nature or from an organization, club or volunteer project with which you are associated - These letters can give us a different perspective of your skill sets outside of your professional environment. There is no preference on who supplies your second letter of recommendation; our only guideline is that it should add new and valuable insights to your application.
Whomever you choose to write your recommendation, make sure he or she knows you well and can offer specific examples of your performance and contributions to the organization. Avoid choosing people simply based on their title or status. We are more concerned with content and substance than reputation.

Recommenders are provided the following guidelines:

Please provide a written letter of recommendation. Be sure to include how the applicant ranks comparative to his/her peer group. Other items to consider are the applicant's:

most salient strengths
areas of development, including efforts the applicant has taken to show improvement
team skills and leadership ability
initiative, curiosity and motivation
other matters which you feel we should know about the applicant

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 15:58
DK wrote:
Most people tend to tell their recommenders around July, providing them August and September to craft recommendation letters for an early October submission.

However, the reality is that 80% of recommenders won't even start on the letter until the first week of October. I see no reason to tell them now.


This is true

But if you ask them early and they are cramming 5 letters within the last week, you wont feel bad nor can they blame it on you

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 16:02
I applied to 8 schools in R1, so you could say that my recommenders had "a lot" of letters to write. And they're pretty busy. asked them to write the recommendations in mid-August, provided them with my prepped documents about a week later. I also met 1-1 with each of them in early September to talk through the why MBA piece, answer questions, etc. One submitted all the letters in end of September, the other the night before each rec deadline. :)

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 16:19
It's not a bad idea to give them some warning at this point that you'll be asking, but I wouldn't provide them with the details until later. Once you start applying, the schools will email your recommenders a login into the application site, at which point they will know the specific questions and format for each school.

People tend to allow tasks to fill the time they are given. By that I mean, I doubt anyone would start writing now for something due in October. They'll probably just procrastinate a lot more than if you give them just 2 months with very specific questions and instructions.

Also, unless you have all your positioning worked out already, you won't know the exact angle and examples you'd ideally want your recommenders to focus on. It's imperative that your recommenderes understand your positioning. Given that you do have 6 months, your positioning could change drastically from what you're thinking now based on new interests/accomplishments/macroeconomic factors. Your school list could change too.

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 16:32
bigfernhead wrote:
The people I'm seeking recommendations no longer works with me. I do want to give them the time to think through things before writing.

They are busy, so the more time I can give them, the better. This is especially true if I'm applying to multiple schools, and they have multiple letters to write.

zoinnk wrote:
bigfernhead wrote:
I want to get going on my recommendations letter for my 2010 application and give my recommenders a head start. But it seems as some schools have specific questions they like to have answered.

Do these questions change from year to year, like essay questions? I don't want to have my recommenders go through the ordeal now, and be forced to change it later. But if I wait till later this year, I don't think that they'll have enough time.

Thoughts?


They don't change the questions really, but do you really want recommenders to start writing about you with 6+ months of time left for you to continue building on your accomplishments?


Dunno if this is your case, but...unless you will have been at your job less than a year on the application due date, you really should have a current supervisor write your recommendation for you. Most schools require a current recommender.

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 16:37
Notifying or giving your recommenders early notice is a good idea.

However, I found out that giving them TOO EARLY of a notice backfires on you.
Some of my original recommenders were notified about 4 months before I actually started my R1 applications. By the time I really needed them to complete the letters in time for R1 deadlines, they were way too used to pushing them off. I asked them to fill them out a month before the deadline, 2 weeks after that, and then a week before the deadline - but to no avail.

I think good timeline is to wait until about 3 months before the deadline. By then, you would be able to access the online application system. AND NEVER tell your recommenders that they have plenty of time. People are busy and they will definitely push off your rec letters.

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New post 18 Mar 2009, 05:16
No, I've been at my current employer for over 2 years. However, I thought we were allowed to use the optional essay to explain the reasons why we did not see a current employer (fear of losing a job, being passed up for promotions, etc.)

zoinnk wrote:
Dunno if this is your case, but...unless you will have been at your job less than a year on the application due date, you really should have a current supervisor write your recommendation for you. Most schools require a current recommender.


You guys give all great points. It seems that I can best use this time to work on my background information before I give it to them a few months from now.

Big Bad, what type of angle did you play with your recommendation letters?

BigBad wrote:
Also, unless you have all your positioning worked out already, you won't know the exact angle and examples you'd ideally want your recommenders to focus on. It's imperative that your recommenderes understand your positioning. Given that you do have 6 months, your positioning could change drastically from what you're thinking now based on new interests/accomplishments/macroeconomic factors. Your school list could change too.

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New post 18 Mar 2009, 11:24
Along the same lines, how many of you gave your recommenders a little writeup about why you want to do your MBA, where, etc ? Anyone got any good references for those who want to put something together like that ? Or any suggestions on how you brought the MBA topic up with your recommenders ?

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New post 18 Mar 2009, 14:36
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bigfernhead wrote:
Big Bad, what type of angle did you play with your recommendation letters?


So, across my entire application I tried to play up what makes me different from other candidates, but also tried to address perceived weakness. For example, many of my essays discussed my fine art/creative background, but I also made sure to address my quant skills. I used my GMAT quant score (which is considerably higher than my verbal) as well as my recommendations to show quantitative ability, where I otherwise would have had a major gap.

I also asked my recommenders to support my broader themes of leadership and innovation. I never saw the final recs, but I was able to provide my recommenders with very recent examples for all these things, and I do believe that my recommenders did include the examples I asked them to include.

I guess my point was that your recs should support your entire application. Until you've outlined a full set of essays, you may not know exactly what gaps your recs can be used to fill. I personally found my positioning (and list of schools!) evolved as I worked through my essays.

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2009, 02:55
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pmenon wrote:
Along the same lines, how many of you gave your recommenders a little writeup about why you want to do your MBA, where, etc ? Anyone got any good references for those who want to put something together like that ? Or any suggestions on how you brought the MBA topic up with your recommenders ?


I'd strongly suggest you give them as much info as possible about why MBA, why the schools you've chosen, career goals, etc. The more info you give them, the better they can tailor the letter to support your application to a particular school or schools. I'm pretty sure if you do a search on this forum you'll find a ton of info on what people have included in their recommender packets.
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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2009, 05:16
Great tip. +1!

BigBad wrote:
bigfernhead wrote:
Big Bad, what type of angle did you play with your recommendation letters?


So, across my entire application I tried to play up what makes me different from other candidates, but also tried to address perceived weakness. For example, many of my essays discussed my fine art/creative background, but I also made sure to address my quant skills. I used my GMAT quant score (which is considerably higher than my verbal) as well as my recommendations to show quantitative ability, where I otherwise would have had a major gap.

I also asked my recommenders to support my broader themes of leadership and innovation. I never saw the final recs, but I was able to provide my recommenders with very recent examples for all these things, and I do believe that my recommenders did include the examples I asked them to include.

I guess my point was that your recs should support your entire application. Until you've outlined a full set of essays, you may not know exactly what gaps your recs can be used to fill. I personally found my positioning (and list of schools!) evolved as I worked through my essays.

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Re: Should I start on my recommendations now?   [#permalink] 19 Mar 2009, 05:16
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