Ace Your Letters of Recommendation
Most business schools require two to three letters of recommendation as part of their admission process. The vast majority of the schools ask the recommender to provide the recommendation in a “signed and sealed” envelope or in a private e-mail.

The recommendations are one of the most critical parts of your application. Below are a few frequently asked questions regarding the recommendations process:

The right time to think about your recommendations is when you know that you may want to apply to a business school, even two or three years in advance! No, you do not need the recommendations written years in advance, but you do need to:

  • Identify potential future recommenders.
  • Work on developing a close, meaningful, substantial relationship with three to four potential recommenders.
Your recommendation is usually measured along three lines:

  • The content (i.e. the level of excitement and support that the recommender demonstrates, and the reasons for this excitement).
  • The nature and length of your acquaintance with the recommender. The recommender should usually be your direct supervisors and the longer and more intense your acquaintance is – the better.
  • The background of the recommender. You should try to provide recommendations that reflect the path you have traveled until now.

When selecting your recommenders, find the right balance between these three criteria, and place the highest emphasis on the content. A mediocre, standard recommendation will not do the job, no matter who provided it.

Most recommendations are two to four pages in length. One-page recommendations, including letterhead and other formalities are frequently too short to substantiate and exemplify the meaningful nature of the relationship and to testify on your skills and traits.
Strong recommendations often use specific, concrete examples that illustrate and demonstrate the recommender’s point. For example, it is often not enough to state “Danny is a great manager”. A strong recommendation would present and describe specific cases in which you demonstrated your great leadership potential.

Your application will be stronger if the recommender prepares a specific recommendation for each school and answers the specific recommendation questions that each school presents. If you are unable to receive such level of cooperation and investment from your recommender, you can try a “middle way” – ask the recommender to write one standard letter for all the schools, and, based on the first letter, to write a specific letter for your favorite school.

All in all, strong relationships and close acquaintance with your recommenders are the starting point for obtaining strong recommendations. Such recommendations are essential to your success in the application process.

Good Luck!

The information contained in this article has been contributed by the courtesy of
Mr. Gilam Levi of