If you are targeting Kellogg’s upcoming March 2013 deadline, I hope you have already secured your recommendation letters. Kellogg requires that you provide at least one recommendation letter from your current supervisor or manager. For Kellogg’s MBA admissions, the letter from your manager is a critical piece of your application – it could make or break you chances of getting in.
Why? Well, usually, your current manager is the one best able to evaluate your career trajectory so far at your present firm, and to extrapolate how much farther you will go. Still, there are some instances in which your current manager should not be your first choice for a recommendation letter. If . . .
. . . You didn’t tell your manager that you’re applying for an MBA program: ouch. That’s a difficult position. Still, people do have their reasons for postponing delivering this kind of news (perhaps worrying about an upcoming promotion). A good plan B would be to ask someone else at your current firm who has insight into your career growth and achievements. It could be your mentor, or a previous manager you are still in touch with.
. . . You have a sub-optimal relationship with your current manager: this happens, despite the best intentions on both sides. Again, try to find someone else in the organization who is familiar with your work and is willing to write an extremely strong recommendation, to compensate for the fact that you are not getting a letter from your immediate supervisor.
. . . You just started a new job/role and your current manager doesn’t know you well yet: this situation is not as unknown . In this case as well, try to find someone else who is familiar with your work, or ask a client. If you are in a new company, that makes it more difficult, and you might want to consider postponing your application to the next cycle. A good idea would be to combine a super-strong recommendation letter from a previous manager with a letter from your current manager. Hopefully s/he can write something that is still positive and shows your hardworking attitude, mentioning even small wins that you were able to achieve in the short time you’ve been working together. After all, if they are supporting your candidacy, despite your short tenure at the firm, it’s a good indication of your place in the corporate hierarchy.
In all of these cases, you should consider writing an optional essay about your selection of recommenders. You will need to help the admissions committee understand your decision (and reflect positively on you, of course!)
Don’t postpone getting the recommendation letter for Kellogg EWMBA or any other program to the last minute. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a working session and get you ready for the deadline.
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