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Our client Sandra was stuck without a current supervisor recommendation to round out her MBA application. She had spent a few years with an ad agency but had recently advanced her career at a client firm with a promotion. However, the timing was tricky- Sandra was working on the core of her business school application with her Stacy Blackman consultant right around the time she finished her initial training in the new position. She would normally ask her direct supervisor for a recommendation for the application, but in this case, Sandra was practically brand new at her job. With no sense of her performance at the new job, Sandra also didn’t think her supervisor knew her story to the degree needed to write a strong application.
Additionally, Sandra was still getting her footing at the new firm, building up trust with her fellow employees, and didn’t want to rock the boat, so to speak. She had heard enough stories to know that while the firm was in good shape, there had been several rounds of layoffs after the financial crisis a few years before, and the general feeling was that shows of dedication were appreciated. In this environment, Sandra thought she should be careful who she informed about her plans.
Of course, she still needed that recommendation, so Sandra and her consultant listed a few possibilities. In many cases, her consultant suggested, they could look to another department within her company for another senior employee who had been a mentor in some capacity. This often helped in cases where an applicant moved to a new position within the same company, or perhaps followed a mentor to the new company. In Sandra’s case, there wasn’t a great fit here, though she kept a research director she had already met with for a few minor projects in mind for the future.
Sandra’s consultant then had her think about people connected to her outside leadership pursuits. Was there someone associated with a charity or a civic group that knew Sandra’s work well and could attest to her leadership abilities? Sandra had years of experience volunteering for kid’s summer camps through her church, so she added Pastor Mike to the list as possibility, but maybe not the strongest. Sandra and her consultant decided Pastor Mike was a good secondary recommendation if needed.
Sandra’s consultant hit on an answer as they went through Sandra’s resume again. If she couldn’t ask her current supervisor for a recommendation, how about a former one? This worked out perfectly for Sandra. Her previous boss knew her well and in fact had strongly recommended her for the position she now held- he was sure it would be a great fit for her and wanted to see her succeed. Raphael’s recommendation slotted perfectly in to Sandra’s application, and she maintains that it was his help that got her into Stanford.
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