For creating memorable essays, we can help you build narratives. For Interviews, we have a few tricks that will make you a better conversationalist. But one part of the MBA Application where we expect the applicant to lead is the Recommendation Letter.
I have been approached a few times with the question "Shall I write my own recommendation letter?” It takes a 10-minute rant before applicants understand what I am trying to say.
Your voice is your own.
It is unique.
If you try to write your own recommendation letter, it always comes across in the way the phrases intermix, and how you frequently use your favorite words. Fake recommendation letter tends to be overly sympathetic and less objective about the applicant.
June - Best time for Meeting your Recommender
For a September or even a January Deadline, start shortlisting, and persuading the recommender by June.
If you have not already pursued your supervisor for the recommendation letter, here is a to-do list.
1) Shortlist at least 4 recommenders
What we have seen over the years is that supervisors have a hectic travel schedule. Last minute change in plans can create havoc in your application schedule. Even if the recommender wants you to succeed, persuading them to write a stellar letter between Jet Lags never works out.
Shortlist your favorite supervisors for your favorite schools.
2) Recommenders Burn Out
Don't expect the same level of enthusiasm from the recommenders on his 8th essay about your strengths. Most of the questions are repeated, but a copy-paste approach for, say, Stanford and Harvard would not yield the same result. Each school stands for something unique. And if you don't debrief the recommender on what the school expects, the narrative will fail. Not all your attributes have to be highlighted for your application to stand out.
Map the school's USP with your strengths.
Ask the recommender to highlight only those attributes using elements of storytelling. We have shown how in our Winning MBA Essay Guide.
3) Understand what motivates the Recommender
When I requested my favorite supervisor in 2008 to write a recommendation letter, he told, "write and show it to me. I will sign it.” We are lazy. Supervisors who might be 5-10 years older than you is already taking too much on their plate. The pro-bono work on your recommendation letter needs some tangible return. I am not suggesting you bribe them. Well, not money at least.
But everybody needs some form of appreciation.
Understand what the recommender value:
a) Is the person a sports fanatic? Get them tickets for his favorite team (at least 5 games).
b) Is the person a movie buff? Buy a prequel, the original and the sequel to his favorite movie
c) Does the person need support with a new project? Volunteer to help.
d) Has the person recently welcomed a baby into the family? Get them a cute dress for each month - 3-4, 4-5 etc. for 12 months.
Your 8th recommendation letter will still find the enthusiasm that you deserve if you are thoughtful with your gifts.
Not all recommenders need gifts. Some value public appreciation. Your MBA plan might not be public yet but share how you appreciate the mentorship of the recommender.
4) Set a Schedule Early On
Most supervisors hate writing. You might even hate it. The word count in Essays limit the narrative fluidity MBA Applicants used to have in 2012. Recommendation Letter is the one place where you can bring a third person's perspective on your candidacy. Ask the recommender whether she would like to write letters for 2 schools this week or write one for each school every week.
Whatever be it, schedule it and add the plan to both your Calendars. Preferably, send a mail with an event invite. It is weird to manage your supervisor, but if you don't schedule it now, you would have to accept a mediocre letter, a couple of days before the deadline.
5) Explain what each school expects
I would recommend that you download our Winning MBA Essay Guide, take short notes on what each school expects and give a small (1-2 min) debrief on what the school expects.
Ideally, write an objective for each question in the recommendation letter and mention what you have highlighted in your essay
Q) What would you say are the applicant's strengths?
Objective: Please highlight my Leadership and Entrepreneurial outlook (Stanford MBA)
Essay: Highlighted my extroversion and problem-solving skills.
Extroversion --> Leadership
Problem Solving # Entrepreneurial
The recommender can complement or supplement your narrative.
Ideally go for a 1:1 structure
In the above example, the recommender will focus on the applicant's leadership from the context of a high-impact project, but subtly mention how he was able to navigate complex work dynamics through extroversion and initiative. The applicant had highlighted his extroversion and problem-solving skills. The recommender can skip problem-solving skills but can mention a unique event where the candidate brought in new revenue streams by thinking like a start-up. Thus, highlighting his Entrepreneurial outlook.
Extroversion supplemented Leadership
Entrepreneurial Outlook complemented Problem Solving Skills
One mistake that we often see applicant make is using the exact traits - right to even the context, word usage, and backstory for essays and recommendation letter. The admission team expects you to coordinate, but subtlety and a distinct narrative for essays and recommendation letter are highly effective for authenticity.
Develop a friendship with your recommender. Share your worries and ask for advice. We tend to help friends, colleagues, and even supervisors who show vulnerability.
Vulnerability is highly persuasive.
MBA Admission Consultant, F1GMAT
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Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
"Pressed against the deadline, I ordered F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide as their blogs always had something interesting to say. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Going through the Essay Guide, I learned the art of storytelling, using various ploys mentioned in the book. Most important one being the “W pattern,” a strategy of information sharing that creates a sense of excitement in the mind of the reader." - MIT Sloan MBA Candidate
Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
Yes, the art of storytelling has won presidency for Obama, transformed Apple from an unknown start-up to a brand synonymous with Quality, and gained admission for the average MBA Applicant.
F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay guide will teach you how to transform your essay to an epic life journey with trials and tribulations that will move the admission team.
Who Should Buy The Winning MBA Essay Guide?
If your essay looks too bland, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you, with examples, on how to use the elements of Storytelling like Incorporating "The Struggle", Using Emotional connectors, narrating the Journey and the use of Chronology, Vividness and Active Verbs to transform your essays.
If you are stuck in the Writing process, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to silence the Analytic Mind and overcome mental blocks.
If you feel that the essays are not persuasive, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will teach you how to use the W-Pattern narrative, Contexts, Turning Points and "The Show Don't Tell Approach" to write a Winning MBA Essay.
If you don't have enough leadership experience, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to highlight non-obvious qualities like Trust, Focus, Listening Skills, Personal Responsibility, Humility, Self-Knowledge, and other secondary traits to prove your leadership.
If you don't know how to review your essays, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will demonstrate how to improve readability with the power of iteration, and maintain your original voice by removing review biases.
Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (496 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 2: Healthcare (Finance to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 3: FinTech (Product Manager to Strategy) (482 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 1: Value from NYC (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 2: Entrepreneur Mindset (Persistence/Creativity/Opportunity Seeking) (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 3: Teamwork and Learning (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #1 (Elon Musk) (250 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #2 (Father) (244 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #3 (Mother) (243 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #4 (Math Teacher) (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #5 (Co-Founder) (250 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(399 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)
+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Personality Type (Accepted MIT Sloan Students)
Cover Letter Checklist
Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Business Development (Mobile Start-Up)(486 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (492 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (497 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations for Manufacturing (extra-curricular) (90 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project and Last-minute change) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
Sample LBS MBA Essay (A Career Switcher from Hospitality to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
5 Examples with Images
7 Professional Gains
Sample Wharton MBA Essay 1: Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (473 words)
Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value (388 Words)
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses