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The Tuesday Q&A: An LOR Conundrum

December 06, 2011 :: Admissionado Team


It is OK to get two LORs from two different people at the same company? I worked with them both on different projects so they will have different things to say, but does it look bad coming from the same place? And if it’s a problem… who else can I ask? I’ve been at the same company for 5 years…


Who knew LORs could be so complicated, eh? When you think about it, how hard is it to get two people to write glowing recommendations for you? But as you’ve seen here, and we’ve seen countless times, it’s not a simple as it seems.

Let’s imagine things in an ideal world, shall we? In that perfect place, you’d have two people from two different companies praising you for two completely different jobs/roles/experiences. And that would be wonderful. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and in your world, where you’ve worked at the same company for 5 years, that can’t happen. So… what now?

Well, if you don’t have a choice, you don’t have a choice. Get those 2 LORs from two people in the same company. Just make sure that they speak about you in different capacities. What you DON’T want is both guys talking about your part in the same project, or even the same role you held in different projects. You want them to highlight two DIFFERENT aspects of your candidacy and abilities… otherwise, why not just have one letter, right?

If that’s not possible, and sometimes it’s not, then you may want to think outside of the office for your second LOR. Now, this isn’t ideal – you are applying to BUSINESS school, after all, so having 2 professional LORs is always better – but sometimes things happen and you have to think outside the box. So find someone who can speak about you from an extra-curricular, an organization, or something that’s not your job. The key here, though, is to have them highlight stories/experiences/stuff that would still impress a b-school adcom: leadership experiences, management experiences, fundraising projects for a non-profit that were successful. Think BUSINESS… not just what a stellar guy or girl you are, or how fun you are to be around.

Now, just to make sure we’re clear here, let’s break it down nice and simple:

Ideal: 2 LORs from 2 people in 2 different companies.
Next Best: 2 LORs from 2 people in the same company that can speak on 2 different things.
Last Resort: 2 LORs from 1 professional and 1 non-professional recommender.

Got it?

Good luck,
— Jon Frank

See more of Jon’s advice right here.
Got a question you want to ask Jon? Email info@admissionado.com!