For many, their MBA pursuit is usually a hush-hush affair: on the personal front, also on the professional front. You would not want inquisitive friends, relatives or neighbours spreading the word around before you have a confirmed place in the MBA college of your choice. Again you don’t want your competing office colleagues to gain an edge over you when it comes to opportunities and promotions. But now you’re in a situation where you need an outsider to write recommendations for you to complete your application. Interesting fix!
In another post you saw why you should not neglect your Letters of recommendation for MBA programs. This time we cover more about who you should approach for your LoRs.
Tough decision, right? So many options (or no obvious ones at all) and 2 recos for each school waiting out there. But if you look around and think (hard), you would be able to figure out the right person. You may have worked together; preferably someone in a slightly senior role within your team (or another team) within your organisation who has seen you huffing and puffing to climb the corporate ladder. They should be able to provide some insights about the traits that set you apart and stand out from the rest. Depending upon the questions asked, they should be able to point out the various occasions when you showed some exceptional ability or done commendable work.
A good recommendation can take your application one level higher. The person should be more of a friend, mentor or guide. He should be willing to spare time and put in the required effort. Your interpersonal relationship (strictly platonic and professional, if you are wondering) with the person really matters. That’s the reason why it’s often mentioned: Do not take recos from the CEO or CFO of the company (unless they really know you like the back of their Blackberries). The designation of the recommender is not that important but the content of the LOR is. A recommendation from someone who’s in the helicopter while you are slogging away your backside on the ground, would tend to be very generalised rather than personalised. Not good.
If you have problems finding someone within your organisation, you can think of any other possible source for getting your LOR – maybe someone from the client side you share a good rapport with. If you have been involved in any social group or non-profit organisation where you’ve made significant contribution over a period of time, you could find someone there to write LORs for you. Again you can choose multiple people to write the recommendations depending on their schedule and time availability instead of over-burdening any one person. So, good to have backup recommenders noted in your diary.
Choosing a recommender from your previous job may not be ideal for all candidates. Consider a case where your job-change occurred more than 3-4 years back; you would have gone through a learning curve in the new organisation and picked up skills in new areas you were earlier not familiar with. Your role would have evolved in several ways, so would your responsibilities. You may have had a flair for technical work and were blissfully content doing so in the old organisation, but now you have discovered your hidden potential and realised that you are an able administrator, a good project manager and a fantastic team-leader. You may have handled more complex projects and achieved targets worth mentioning. In such a scenario, even if you feel that strong urge to go back to your manager from your previous office, he may perhaps not be able to comment about your recently acquired managerial skills. A person who has seen you grow in this organisation would do a better job and would be able to justify the transition in your career and your passion for the work you’re currently involved in.
Again, even if the recommender writes with good intentions and holds a high opinion about you, if he is not able to reproduce (no, we aren’t talking about his ability to produce offsprings) the same in a presentable and legible manner, this would be a setback for your application. Good language and flow without typos would be required so that the content can be assimilated.
So rack your brains, weigh out the outcomes and decide on who would do the job best. Any doubts on the choice of recommenders that we can clarify?