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Recommendation Etiquette

With July 4th behind us, many applicants are now getting ready to approach their recommenders for reference letters.

This simple step can be a deal breaker for applicants if not handled correctly as seen by the following statement from Stanford GSB:

“It is a violation of the spirit of the Fundamental Standard and Honor Code to draft or write your own Letter of Reference, even if asked to do so by your recommender.

Such an action can result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission. If the individual insists on this approach, you should find another recommender.”

(Source, Stanford GSB’s admission website). Applicants face many more challenges as they assess who the appropriate recommenders are and how to get them to write strong recommendations on their behalf.

Questions to Ask before Selecting Recommenders
1. Do they understand your brand, and are they avid fans?

2. Do they have an MBA? If not, do they understand the value of an MBA?

3. Have they written recommendation letters before? Are they good writers? Have the people they recommended gained admission to top business schools?

4. Are they open to your providing them with information about your brand, accomplishments, and rationale for an MBA?

5. Do they have time to write an excellent recommendation letter?

6. Are they supportive of your school choice?

7. Do they have enough in-depth interaction with you to provide evidence of your leadership?

8. Are they senior enough in title to have a broad perspective of what your role is and how it fits into the company?

9. Are they optimists? You don’t want anyone approaching your recommendation from a “half empty” perspective.

10. Are they punctual? Avoid procrastinators who have a reputation of not delivering quality work at deadlines.

If you answer no to any one of these questions, you should think long and hard about whether the recommender is right for you.

For more details on winning recommendation strategies, check out The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets.

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