UCLA Anderson: 3 Tips for Recommendation Letters

The UCLA Anderson School of Management MBA Insider’s Blog recently provided three bits of advice for any applicant feeling flustered by the process of procuring letters of recommendation for their b-school application.

A letter from a current, direct supervisor is ideal. However, for candidates who haven’t yet shared their pursuit of an MBA  degree with their employer, Lindsay Haselton in admissions advises reaching out to either indirect supervisors, former employers, supervisors from extracurricular organizations, or clients—especially for applicants who are self-employed.

One thing you shouldn’t do is seek a recommendation from a former college professor, as business schools prefer to hear from people who can speak to your accomplishments in the work environment rather than the academic setting.

Secondly, be sure to thoroughly prep your recommenders and give them plenty of time to prepare the letter in time for your deadline. You may find it helpful to advance the due date by a week or so in order to remove one last-minute worry from your plate.

Provide your recommenders with a copy of your resume, as well as a reminder list of accomplishments or strengths they have already witnessed in your performance to jog their memory and provide examples for the letter. Read my post on how to strategize and manage the recommendation process for more tips.

Finally, don’t be tempted to go for the “big name” or position when it comes to choosing a recommender. So many people think choosing a well-known or prestigious individual will be the ticket to acceptance at the b-school of their dreams.

The key when selecting recommenders is to think about about their placement in your life; can they write about you thoughtfully and with enough insight so that the admissions committee can get an authentic feel for you as a person, as well as your skills and capabilities? The best choice is always the person with whom you interact on a day-to-day basis and can speak to your leadership and management potential, Haselton counsels.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your recommenders, as some top schools have said the letters of recommendation are the most important aspect of the application. This third-party input and perspective on you as an individual is invaluable when schools are making their admit decisions, so choose wisely, and make sure they are as professionally executed as every other aspect of your application.


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