Letters of recommendation (LORs) may seem like one last nagging and even redundant part of your MBA application process. After all, haven’t you already devoted weeks, and possibly more, to writing and editing your essays? Haven’t you already proven beyond a doubt to the adcom your outstanding qualifications through your polished essays, impressive admissions resume and GMAT scores?
Yes, by this time you may feel you have a hard-earned case of Application Season Fatigue Syndrome (not yet listed in the annals of medical literature), but take a deep breath and give your LORs your full attention, because they are read carefully and carry weight with adcoms. Strong LORs accomplish several important things all at once:
1. They affirm that what you have claimed about yourself in your essays is true because they are written by a third-party.
2. They provide a valuable opportunity to showcase additional managerial or leadership experiences or exemplary characteristics that you didn’t have room to discuss in your essays. Therefore, they also showcase new and distinct qualifications.
3. They can combat a weakness in your profile. For example, if you’re a quant jock, you can and should look for someone who can talk up your communication skills. Conversely, if you are an MBA applicant from a non-traditional professional background, you can and should find a recommender who can talk up your quantitative and analytical skills.
4. Since they offer a complementary (and complimentary) perspective about your leadership, integrity, and other characteristics, LORs also help the adcom develop a fuller picture of who you are, not only as an academic profile, but as a well-rounded person of good character who can fit well with the school and its environment.
For these reasons, when the adcom wrestles with the decision of choosing between two otherwise equally qualified candidates, a stellar LOR can tip those precariously balanced scales in your favor. Conversely, LORs that seem to be written without enthusiasm or are filled with superficial, unsubstantiated generalities can be the kiss of death to your application.
To ensure a stellar LOR, suggest that your recommenders check out our Letter of Recommendation Services. They’ll be matched with an advisor who will coach them through the LOR writing process or help them edit and polish their letters.Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.