Great Recommendation Letters: The Ingredients

The process of getting great recommendation letters provides applicants with no small amount of stress. For some, says, the process may even feel “redundant.” As they point out, “Haven’t you already proven in your essays and through your stellar resume how amazingly focused, smart, diverse and dedicated you are to earning your MBA?”

The truth is, though, that great recommendation letters can really help your overall application in many ways.

“For example, they validate claims. Because they are written by a third party, they affirm that what you claim about yourself in your essays is true. They reveal new and distinct qualifications by providing an opportunity to showcase additional managerial or leadership experiences…They can counteract a weaknessFinally, they develop a fuller picture of you.”

However, getting those great recommendation letters is not only about what the recommender does. Much of that job falls in your own shoulders. There is much that you can do to make the job a little easier for those who have agreed to speak on your behalf and, in the end, get that much of a better letter. gives a checklist for the things to give to your recommenders:

√ A brief overview of how you are trying to position yourself with the school.

√ A resume.

√ Copies of each LOR form, with basic data already filled in.

√ Timeline to submit the LOR to meet the school’s deadline. If applicable, stamped and addressed envelopes.

√ A list of experiences, anecdotes or other stories that you would like mentioned. Choose with an eye toward strengthening any weaknesses in your application. The stories you suggest should be different from those already discussed in your essays, though it would be natural to mention a very significant achievement in both an LOR and an essay.

√ Copies of relevant work evaluations.

√ Copies of your essays, if you already have essay drafts.

Who should you get to write you these glowing, great recommendation letters? gives a long list of situations and possible recommenders. If you have worked with organizations—either currently or in the past—you will want to look to managers, supervisors, and mentors. These people, who would have worked with you for a long time, will be able to speak on your behalf in many capacities.

Never ask a relative for a recommendation, even if you work together, and you should have at least a two-year longstanding relationship with your recommenders so that they will be able to really speak to your growth.

Great recommendation letters are going to help your application to Virginia business schools. Those letters will “highlight and amplify your leadership, teamwork, organizational and communication skills,” and help you paint a more vivid picture of yourself and your goals. For more advice on how to get great recommendation letters, check out another of our posts here. Good luck!

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