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How to choose recommenders for MBA applications

Letters of recommendation play a very crucial role in the MBA application process. Best recommendations are those which are consistent with what you write in your essays, which detail out and support your qualities/ weaknesses with examples and which come from somebody credible. One should keep in mind that the quality of recommendations depends on the choice of recommenders to a large extent.

Hence, choosing the right recommenders hence becomes very important. Here are some useful tips on how to choose the recommenders for MBA application

a) Knowing closely matters: You should look for a person who knows you closely and hence has enough stuff to write about you. This could be your boss, a client with whom you have worked closely or even a close friend with whom you have worked at-least at some point in your life.

b) Brands and Designations are secondary: Remember that the admissions committee is not looking for recommenders, who are brands in themselves, have celebrity status, work in Fortune 100 companies or have fancy designations. What matters is how well the recommender knows you.

c) Seniority matters: While it is never stated but one must look for people who are senior (to the applicant) in the organization to give recommendations. If you get your recommendation from colleagues, it is likely to leave an impression that you could not get anybody better (in terms of professional seniority) to build your case

d) Writing skills also matter: Try to choose a recommender who has decent writing skills. He/ She may not be a terrific writer but some skills are required to express the thoughts he/she has for you. A recommender with shallow writing skills will not be able to strengthen your case irrespective of how high he thinks of you.

e) Different perspective: If you are getting 2 recommendations (or 3 for some b-schools) ensure that both recommenders do not end up writing exactly the same about you (especially the examples/ anecdotes). While some qualities are expected to be common, 2 recommendations should be replicas in terms of content. Example: If you have dotted line relation with 2 managers in one project and you foresee that they will quote same points about you, then you should choose one out of these managers and look for second recommender somewhere else.

f) Alums of b-schools you are applying to: This is just an icing on the cake. If you can find people who themselves are alumni of mba schools you are applying to, nothing like it. It adds to credibility. Also, since they have been through the process themselves, they know how to go about writing recommendations.

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