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# Writing your own recommendation letter

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Intern
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16 Dec 2009, 18:56
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Anyone in the situation where you write a rec letter about yourself for someone else (ie. people too busy to do it)? If so, what did you write?

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17 Dec 2009, 09:25
You may provide info to the recommender but writing your own reco...
CrushTheGMAT wrote:
Anyone in the situation where you write a rec letter about yourself for someone else (ie. people too busy to do it)? If so, what did you write?

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17 Dec 2009, 09:43
That is concidered a very big no-no. I talked to my recommenders before about it and gave my recommenders my latest preformance evaluation.
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17 Dec 2009, 09:48
If your recommender is too busy, I see two options:

2) Tell them that you have lined up someone else from the office to help out. And they can just sign/send that recommendation

I told my supervisor (who is around 3 levels above me) that she could delegate some of the work to a colleague who is a level above me. She never did but I think it's an okay option (as long as you confirm with the second person that it's okay).

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17 Dec 2009, 10:09
Realistically, this is not an uncommon request, I have two friends who were asked to do just this. If you really don't have a second option, you should write a very detailed, very objective framework and then ask them to pull it together into finale cohesive letter. Ask them to use their language to massage it and add in any other anecdotes or examples they feel are missing.

It's not optimal, but this happens from academia to the professional world all the time.

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17 Dec 2009, 11:09
well, if you write your own recommendation. at least you don't have to worry about your recommendation sucking.

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17 Dec 2009, 11:35
My current supervisor was too busy to write an American-style, longer recommendation letter without assistance. (In our country, recommendations are usuall half a page and much less detailed, no stories etc.).

What we did was write it together. I kind of interviewed him, posed questions and probed for answers and practical examples to confirm every claim. In the end I assembled the points he came up with and he read it through, editing what he thought was necessary. This approach worked well, and I was sure he would not forget to add any details required. Besides, it was good to get a candid evaluation of what he thinks of me and my work. I think it brought a new level of understanding between us.

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17 Dec 2009, 12:15

While all of my recommenders (5, I split between schools) fit the "too busy" category, and I only interact with one regularly, they all got it in on time. I assembled a packet of info for each consisting of:

* Some of my app material for them (resume, 1 sample essay (HBS #1 'accomplishments' is a great one to use))
* Since my company has a 360* feedback system (and after checking with my management and HR on policy), I copied good feedback (and attributed it) from performance cycles. I edited that from 15 pages down to 6 and kept only the best quotes from people who'd worked with me. The idea was to give the recommenders a 'greatest hits' of feedback to see if any situations resonated with their impressions of me or sparked memories of similar behaviors. (Many of them were also quoted in there, so jogging the memory there was a bit easier!)
* I liked the Universal Recommendation Form so I included it, then for each recommend tried to jot notes about projects or interactions that I wanted them to remember.
* Finally, I included a cover letter/index and a summary of the strengths of each school I wanted a rec for and the reasons I wanted to go there.

I met with them each individually and asked formally for their help, and when they asked when it was due I gave them about a month before the actual deadline, as that was my target. (Given our company and our workloads, I knew that would be highly unlikely, so I padded a bit)

I did get some great feedback from my recs about the work I'd put into the packets. Taking it seriously shows them how serious you are about it, and the best way to help your recs present you - especially those that are incredibly busy and can barely remember that project from 3 months ago - is to jog their memory.

Anyhoo, good luck. It's an ethics thing, frankly, and I wouldn't do it, but apparently plenty of folks write their own.

Last edited by lsmba on 18 Dec 2009, 08:33, edited 1 time in total.

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17 Dec 2009, 14:21
I'm sure bschools discourage it and it doesn't sound like the most ethical thing to do. However, as 2012dream mentioned, I don't think it's uncommon to get this request. You can provide a detailed outline of accomplishments your recommender mention in the letter, but sometimes people just don't have time to write a really detailed letter. And if you insist you might just end up getting a really canned letter, which won't help your case at all with bschools.

I remember when I was in college, my uncle who is a professor asked me to look over a letter he wrote for one of his most promising students. My uncle, unfortunately, was in the middle of publishing an important paper and just wrote a really hasty letter, that didn't reflect the student's unique qualities at all. After I told him how terrible it would look for his student, he decided to ask her to write it herself and just sign off. She ended up putting together something that, of course, paints herself in a positive light, but was also very truthful. My uncle read it over and verified everything and then signed off. I think in this case it's perfectly fine. However, if the recommender doesn't even review it then I think it's not the best idea, as it could be subject to exaggerations.

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18 Dec 2009, 01:40
CrushTheGMAT wrote:
Anyone in the situation where you write a rec letter about yourself for someone else (ie. people too busy to do it)? If so, what did you write?

According to Sandy on BW, who gets quite a few kids into H/S/W every year, some 60% of applicants write their own letters. This is something he mentioned on his thread. I highly doubt that he is more knowledgeable than the schools themselves. So, I guess schools are pretty familiar that most letters are written by applicants. However, don't expect them to say 'We know that most of you are going to write their own recs, so please don't worry, they do not matter that much anyway, except if they are tepid or utterly bad'. I actually think that most bosses are too busy to put together a good rec, and in addition, most of them are not good writers (with the exception of some industries such as IB and MC, where people are pretty familiar with b-school requirements). That is why I highly doubt that most bosses are able to write a letter that is concise, yet comprehensive, supporting each trait with an anecdote, while not being too generic. I read a sample letter in Montauk's book and it was outstanding, with polished language. However, I am ready to bet that most recs do not sound like that. After having some experience with essay writing, I can say that maybe after 5-10 revisions a rec would sound like that sample letter - polished, with no redundant words etc. But, who has the time for revisions? Of course, you could draft your recs for your boss. But bear in mind that some schoos explicitly discourage even drafting. Yale states that your recommender should not use anything drafted by you. But I do think that reality is slightly different from school websites and books.

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27 Dec 2009, 13:56
hi everyone,

if my recommenders write LORs in language other than English and i translate them, would that be considered the same as writing them myself (i assume that my writing style will show)? and should i mention that in the optional essay or is it not a good idea?

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23 Mar 2010, 21:24
I want to add on to this point. What if you have your boss write the recommendation in their mother tongue language then get it professionally translated?

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10 Oct 2013, 02:28
lonewolf wrote:
I want to add on to this point. What if you have your boss write the recommendation in their mother tongue language then get it professionally translated?

You should ask the school about this directly, although I remember reading on a Q&A section somewhere that schools expect you to just send the un-translated letter directly to them. They will have it translated.
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17 Oct 2013, 10:45
I really think it's a bad idea.
If you go ahead and do it anyway, you need to make sure there are no evidence left on the document that it came from you...

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# Writing your own recommendation letter

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