This blog post is part of our "Application Insider" blog post series that provides insider information, tips, and advice about applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program.
APPLICATION INSIDER TOPIC:
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Continuing with our series on application tips, we'd like to provide some insight into letters of recommendation and why they are important to our evaluation process. As noted in our application requirements, we require two letters of recommendation (and just one for re-applicants). We prefer that your letters of recommendation speak to your accomplishments and abilities within your professional career. As such, you should request your letters of recommendation from preferably a direct supervisor or manager. But don't worry, if you are working in a family business or have an entrepreneurial background, this blog will also give you some tips on who would be good recommenders, too.
Why are letters of recommendation important?
Letters of recommendation are important because they allow us to see you through the eyes of your direct supervisor/manager. We want to learn about your leadership potential, your teamwork skills, as well as your ability to overcome challenges. They provide us with information on how you’re going to function on a team: are you someone who is equally comfortable in a leadership role as in a support role; if issues arise will you be able to solve them by evaluating all perspectives involved; do you know how to compromise when needed? Letters of recommendation also speak to what you have accomplished in your career and shed some light on how that can position you for future success. The information that is included in your letters can help support your post-MBA goals.
How should you request a letter of recommendation? I think that it’s always best to make the request in person. Why? Because making the request in person allows you to see how the person responds. Pay attention to not just how they respond verbally but also to the nonverbal communication that comes from their body language. Are they smiling and do look happy? Are they averting their eyes and avoiding making eye contact with you? Do they look uncomfortable? Picking up on these small clues can make the difference between choosing a recommender who will write a lukewarm letter versus choosing someone who will put in the time to make sure that their letter enhances your application.
Who should you consider for your letters of recommendation? Your letters of recommendation should ideally come from someone who is familiar with you in a work setting, such as a direct supervisor and/or project manager. If you cannot request a letter of recommendation from your most current supervisor, you can always contact a former employer. Keep in mind though that it is always best to reach out to someone who you are still in contact with so that they can speak to your growth since you worked with them.
If you are an entrepreneur or are working in a family business, in addition to considering previous employers, you can consider clients, vendors, as well as supervisors from volunteer organizations. It is not advisable that your recommender be someone who you are related to since they will most likely be biased in your favor.
Always remember that we are more concerned with how well your recommenders know you, not their titles. So don't worry about getting a letter of recommendation from the CEO of your company if they can't provide us with detailed and insightful information on who you are and how you have impacted your organization.
Before deciding who to reach out to for your letters of recommendation, we recommend that you take a look at the recommendation questions. Make sure that you reach out to individuals who can provide useful and detailed responses to the questions on the form. Take the time to choose your recommender wisely and give them ample time to complete your letter of recommendation by the deadline for the round to which you are applying.
Does UCLA Anderson use the "Common Letter of Recommendation" form and what is it? Yes, new this year, UCLA Anderson has adopted the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR) form. The Common LOR is a recommendation form developed in conjunction with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) with the goal of saving recommenders valuable time by providing a single, common set of questions. The questions remain embedded in each participating school’s existing application system so you your recommendation requests and submissions will still be processed and submitted through our UCLA Anderson application form. UCLA Anderson is one of 35 (and growing) MBA programs to use this form. For more information and to see the form, visit the GMAC Common LOR website.
One last bit of advice: Dedicate some time to share your MBA plans with your recommenders. Share a copy of your resume, talk about some of your professional accomplishments, and let them know why you are interested in pursuing an MBA and how you hope to grow both personally and professionally through the experience. By sharing your plans, you will help them to write a more compelling letter of recommendation.
Good luck and make sure check back for more "Application Insider" blog posts that will cover information and tips on the many aspects of applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program!