Greetings from Houston! I have been “on the road” at a number of Forte Foundation events over the past week and have enjoyed meeting many of you. I’ve been asked on a few occasions about how one should go about sourcing a letter of recommendation and would like to share with you some of the tips I’ve passed along:
- Job titles aren’t as important as how well a recommender knows you in the work place. At UCLA Anderson, we look to your letter of recommendation to help us assess from a third-party perspective your leadership and management potential, fit with the program, interpersonal skills and teamwork abilities. In most cases, someone you have reported to on a day-to-day basis can provide more insight into these qualities than someone higher up in the organization who may not interact with you regularly.
- There are other options if you can’t obtain a recommendation from your direct supervisor. Preferably, you should have a letter from your direct supervisor. However, we understand that sometimes candidates are not yet comfortable letting their employer know they are pursuing an MBA. Indirect supervisors (people who have overseen projects you’ve worked on, a manager from another department, etc.) are a good option, as well as former employers, clients (especially for those of you who are self-employed) and supervisors from extracurricular organizations. At UCLA Anderson, we prefer professional recommendations over academic, so avoid asking a former professor if possible.
- Prepare your recommender as much as possible. Give them ample time to prepare a strong letter, and perhaps give them a deadline to have the letter prepared by. Provide your recommender with a copy of your resume and remind them of your key accomplishments. I personally enjoy reading letters of recommendation that provide concrete examples of an applicant’s accomplishments, as well as genuine insights into an applicant’s personality.
The letter of recommendation adds some color to the application that we may not see through your essay and resume... until we have the opportunity to meet you in person during the interview. We'll be posting about the interview soon. In the meantime, I hope to meet you at an event in the near future!