As the majority of Round 1 deadlines are next month, you should plan to reach out to your recommenders soon to ensure they are pacing themselves and won’t be crunched for time once end-of-summer craziness hits.
These contacts are doing you a huge favor, and it would be a shame if they had to take time away from their families and friends over the remaining weeks before their kids go back to school (or over Labor Day weekend, for those in the United States) because you hadn’t gently reminded them about their upcoming responsibility. While b-school applications might be consuming your life right now, they’re probably not top-of-mind for your recommenders.
When you do your check-in, there’s a chance your recommenders may ask you to review what they’ve written so far. Or they may just want to verbally confirm that they’re covering the right points in their letters.
This is your opportunity to remind them that the most critical thing they can do is include examples to back up any claims they’ve made about your strengths or personality traits.
Many recommenders—especially those who aren’t familiar with the MBA application process—think that if they simply sing your praises and repeat how great you are in various different ways, that will be enough. Others assume their alumni status or their impressive titles will carry enough weight to make up for a generic letter. Unfortunately, they won’t. The best way for your recommenders to help you stand out from thousands of other highly qualified applicants is by painting a clear picture of who you are both professionally and personally.
Sharing details of how you contributed to projects or giving specific examples of how you interact with others or went above and beyond (including funny anecdotes or quips that give insight into your personality)—these are the things that make for a great recommendation letter.
Having said all that, if your recommenders don’t intend to share what they’ve written, don’t worry! Chances are you asked them to do this very important task because you know they’re competent people who will try their best to set you apart from the pack. But if they do ask for any advice as the deadlines near, just be sure to drive home the importance of going heavy on the examples.
And when your recommenders’ letters are in, don’t forget to do something nice to thank them!
Think of it this way:
Until next time,
The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting
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