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Letters Of Recommendation: Who Should I Ask To Write Them?

August 30, 2011 :: Admissionado Team

Letter of Rec

Question: “Who is the best person to reach out to for a Letter of Recommendation for my MBA application?

I know they say you should get a supervisor, but does “supervisor” mean your direct boss? As an employee in a large foreign company, I have a senior colleague that serves as my supervisor. Should I ask the colleague who supervised me to write the letter of recommendation for me, or the boss who I never really work with?”

Here’s What You Should Consider When Looking For People To Write You Letters Of Recommendation For Your MBA Apps

I get this question a lot and really, it’s quite simple. No matter how “famous” or well-known or important or senior-level someone is, when it comes down to it, you want to ask the person who knows you the best.  So if, for example, the person is only one “level” above you, but they know your work the best, THAT is the person to ask to write your rec.

The better the person knows you, the more personal (and good) your recommendation will be.  And that’s the most important thing. Anyone can write some generic LOR talking about how “great” you are and how “smart” you are. But that’s not going to say ANYTHING to the adcoms. (Do you have any idea how many of those they read? Here’s a hint: a LOT.) They need specific examples. They need to SEE how smart you are. Or how good of a leader you are. And the only way they will SEE that is with specific examples. And who is going to have those examples? The guy or gal you work with most.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who the letter is coming from. We don’t know who the people in your company are anyway! And even if you could somehow get a LOR from Steve Jobs, if he has nothing specific to say about your abilities….it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the person writing the recommendation has concrete examples of your strengths to SHOW why they are recommending you.