Selecting the right people to write your recommendation letter is difficult as it requires good judgement and risk taking. Do these managers truly support you? Are they articulate enough? Will they spend the time to write a strong letter and provide specific examples? Can they help you stand out from the crowd?

One of my clients got into INSEAD, with a GMAT below 700 (closer to 600) and from the most competitive applicants pool. His supervisor finished writing the recommendation letter and said “I’m sick with writing good things about you”. I’ve never seen that letter but from my clients’ promotions and the result (Admit from INSEAD) I’m confident they were over the top – in a good way.

What if My Supervisor is Too Busy (or not willing) to write my Letters of Recommendation? 

Often recommenders ask the applicant to write the recommendation on his/her own. I don’t like these situations – writing your own letter of recommendation is often doomed to be similar to your essays, in terms of style and content, and not as strong as coming from your champion.

A satisfactory solution is to create guidelines – talk about the questions that she needs to answer, bring up stories and accomplishments that you are proud of, and let her do the rest of the work. It’s better to have a short but strong recommendation than a long and mediocre. If she doesn’t have the time or energy – pick someone else.

Can I use some text from my friend’s letter of recommendation? (He got into Harvard and Wharton)

Warning:  never copy any text you find online (or elsewhere!)  for recommendation letters – not for the list of adjectives describing your profile, not for the weakness or development areas. Recommendation letters are like fingerprints – they should be unique to the writer and your own candidacy.

What is my supervisor is not a good writer? what is English is not their native language? 

Focus on the content. Even if the language and writing are simple, your direct supervisor (and other recommenders) should be able to write a strong letter. Ask them to focus on the facts and stories that help you stand out and make things happen in the organization. Ask them to include specific numbers (sales, savings, etc.) to make sure the reader understand your impact on your team and company.

Have any questions? contact our admissions expert to talk about how to secure the letters of support for your MBA application.