By Gil Levi
Most business schools require two or three letters of recommendation as part of the admissions process. In most cases, the schools request that the recommender send the recommendation online, through the school’s application system.
The recommendations are among the most significant components of your application. Below are some frequently asked questions about this process.
There is no need to acquire recommendations written years in advance. However, you will need to do the following:
- Identify potential recommenders.
- Develop solid and meaningful relationships with three or four potential recommenders.
a. The content.
For example, the level of enthusiasm and support conveyed by the recommender and the reasons for it. These reasons will preferably include specific real-life examples.
b. The nature and length of your acquaintance.
The longer and more intensive the acquaintance is, the better. The most effective recommenders are usually those that have supervised your work (unless the specific school guidelines instruct you otherwise). It is therefore not usually recommended to present a recommendation from professors (unless you worked for them, or unless such a recommendation is required.)
c. The recommender’s background.
Assume two potential recommenders for which criteria ‘a’ and ‘b’ are equally strong. Under this scenario, a recommendation from a CEO or a government minister, for example, would be considered more powerful than a recommendation from a junior manager. Similarly, a recommendation from a graduate of the school you are applying to would be more effective than a recommendation from someone who did not attend the school.
When selecting your recommenders, find the right balance of these three criteria, while placing the greatest emphasis on the recommendation’s content. A standard and lukewarm recommendation will not get the job done, regardless of who gave it.
Overall, strong relationships and close acquaintance with your recommenders are the key to acquiring effective recommendations. Such recommendations are essential for a successful application.
The ARINGO Team