Deciding to attend business school is a big decision, so getting the application done correctly is of utmost importance. One of the most important variables in a business school application is the recommendation letter. The recommendation letter helps create a profile of the applicant independent of what he or she says about themselves.
According to several business school websites, the recommendation letter or letters help provide qualitative information about the applicant that is not biased from the applicant’s view. Usually one of the recommendation letters is from a supervisor, since business schools want applicants with some professional experience. The content of the letters should include the applicant’s interpersonal skills with professionals, workers, and clients, the applicant’s communication and persuasive skills, the applicant’s industry knowledge, and any personal achievements of the applicant.
Who Should Write Recommendation Letters
Not every supervisor an applicant had should be considered for a business school recommendation letter. It is advisable to consider a supervisor who had significant involvement with the applicant professionally in the last three to five years. The supervisor should also be able to give good, detailed accounts about the applicant’s performance at work. Finally, the supervisor should be happy to write the letter and not feel obliged to write it. If the applicant has a history of self-employment, clients can also serve as excellent sources for recommendation letters. Some peers can be chosen for recommendation letters, but the peers should be co-workers or individuals that the applicant has worked with in a non-profit, charitable, or extracurricular setting. A friend will not be the best person for such a letter. Finally, professors, who are often the most sought after letter writers, should be asked. Professors, particularly business program professors, will more focus on the applicant’s academic work than any particular entrepreneurial or business activity. Nevertheless, business schools would like to hear how the applicant understood business subjects, like finance, accounting, marketing, or management, in an academic fashion.
All recommendation letters must be signed by the letter-writer and should be typed-written. The letter writer should also include all their contact information and their specific title at a business. References to organizations and specific businesses are advised against as these variables act as distracting filler that do not address the candidate specifically. Under federal law, no mention of race, color, sex, religion, personal beliefs, national origin, mental or physical status, age, sexual orientation, or marital status can be in the letters.
Out of all the variables in a business school application, the letters of recommendation will prove to be influential in creating an applicant’s narrative. A personal essay and other features to the application are good and required, but having third-party information about the applicant sets up a more nuanced and objective view of who the applicant is as a professional. Choosing the right people for the letters is an essential task for all business school applicants.