The MBA Letter Of Recommendation Strategy! Who Should You Ask To Write?

How Important Is Your Recommendation Letter To The MBA Application?

As the only part of your MBA application, your letters of recommendation consist of a lot of weight in MBA application. The professional recommendation allows us to gain a glimpse into your personality and what makes you unique, in order to hear your stories that provide a different perspective and that round out your application. All of that makes the MBA recommendation letter very important.

The letters of recommendation are one of the only opportunities for the admission committee to hear about you from an outside perspective. You basically are required to write two letters of recommendation, and it is very important to judge who you should ask to write a recommendation letter.

Who Should you Ask to Write Your MBA Recommendation Letter?

Basically, you need to prepare for two recommendation letters. Then who should write these two copies? It is as follows.

● Main (MUST ask to write): your direct supervisor
● Sub: Previous department or company supervisor, or close client

Main Recommender

I don't recommend removing your direct supervisor. In the past, I've seen a lot of people who have been rejected or waitlisted since they asked other people because they were afraid to ask their direct supervisor to write one. As applying for MBAs implies quitting a job, there is no "good impression". Thus, it is difficult to ask my direct supervisor to write it, so many applicants ask another person. It's something you should never do.

Removing a direct supervisor entails the risk that the admission committee might think, "Isn't this person something wrong that he/she can't ask his direct supervisor?" In particular, the recommender is required to be "the person who supervises you as often as possible", so the direct supervisor is the most suitable person as a recommender.

For example, one of the frequently asked questions in recommendations of Harvard Business School is "What do you want this candidate to improve?", and your recommender must be able to answer it properly. You should be aware that removing your direct boss is pushing the "fail button" yourself.

Sub Recommender

For subs, it is better to ask your previous supervisors, the supervisors of volunteer activities, or a close client knowing you well. Although it is necessary that you ask those you work with on a daily basis, you should ask those who can evaluate you from a "different perspective" with your direct supervisor as much as possible. It doesn't have to be the same company. You should discuss this with your Alpha Advisors and build a strategy before choosing sub-recommender.

By the way, I often get the question, "Should I ask the president and someone with a great title?" from students. But the answer is NO.
Recommendations should be written by those who know you well. However, it is true if you ask MBA graduates to write it, you will get a little more advantage. Some students got recommendations from MBA graduates. I would suggest you discuss additional recommendation strategies, along with Alpha Advisors. In particular, you have to think about additional recommendation strategies when we become a Waitlist.

Recommendation Letters

I believe that it is your mission and role to provide a great social value. Don't be afraid of the recommendation process and push forward with MBA applications!

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Toshihiko Irisumi (TJ)

CEO Toshihiko Irisumi (TJ) worked at Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs after graduating from the Chicago Booth MBA. Before studying at Chicago Booth, he worked at Sumitomo Corporation, which is a Japanese top trading company. As an ex-Goldman and Chicago Booth MBA holder, he has deep and wide knowledge about MBA application and Post MBA career. Thanks to his outstanding advices’ quality, a large number of Alpha students succeed in application of MBAs, such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Columbia, NYU, UC Berkeley, USLA, USC, LBS, Oxford, and Cambridge!

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