From Stephen Sweeney, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:
Here at the Texas MBA program, we offer you two options for submitting the recommendation for your Texas MBA application.
- Send a recommendation request via our admissions management system
- Utilize the recommendation function within LinkedIn
The first option is to send a recommendation request via our admissions management system. This is how we have been reviewing recommendations for the past several years. Basically, you fill out a form in our application with the information for who you want to recommend you. Your recommender then receives an email notifying them to complete the recommendation. Once complete, your recommendation appears on your application. This is a straight-forward process and one that many other MBA programs follow.
The second option is for you to utilize the recommendation function within LinkedIn, a platform familiar to most working professionals worldwide. We believe a strong LinkedIn profile with substantial recommendations will be a great asset to you during your MBA program and beyond.
LinkedIn offers a form similar to the application and based on the information you provide, the Admissions Committee will access your LinkedIn profile and review your recommendation. Note: It is important that the recommendation information you provide matches your LinkedIn profile and that the recommendation is publicly visible before you submit your application.
Why Provide Options?
Here at the Texas MBA, we believe in flexibility. Our program is designed to be flexible and customizable. Our application follows a similar approach. You have options in choosing how you wish to submit Essay 1, your recommendation, and many other options exist throughout the process that revolve around us getting to know you.
The LinkedIn option may prove attractive to applicants who are already comfortable with a current recommendation on their profile, as there is no need to request an additional recommendation.
We recognize that some of our international applicants may not have a LinkedIn profile, or that in some cases, military veterans may not be allowed to have an online social presence for security reasons.
The Admissions Committee does not prefer one option over the other. The most important part of a recommendation is the actual substance of the recommendation. With that in mind, let’s review how to leverage your recommendation to help make your application shine.
If you’re like me, asking your supervisor or your colleague to write a recommendation detailing your virtues makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable. “So, tell me again how I’m amazing? And don’t spare any details!” But a solid recommendation for your MBA application is very critical. Here’s how you can leverage your personal testimonials:
You’ve worked hard over the past few years and have earned praise, but why must you have to ask for it, and in writing? Well, the answer is easy: as an Admissions Officer, I need perspective on your business acumen, your personality, and your leadership and teamwork skills to confirm your claims of awesome-ness from someone other than yourself. Think about it: You have complete control over every aspect of your MBA application, except for the recommendation. You’ve already written essays, submitted a resume and transcripts, took your tests, and you may have also been interviewed. Now it’s time for a 3rd party to weigh-in and offer us a new perspective that will hopefully add depth and value to your overall application. But most importantly, a good recommendation will provide a CREDIBLE corroboration of your positive attributes.
Who’s the Boss?
The best recommendation will come from a direct supervisor or the equivalent. Nobody knows your capabilities in the business world better than the person supervising you in your current role. Even better if they write your performance evaluations! This means they are used to thinking about you and your skill set. This person should be able to come up with clear examples from first-hand knowledge of your measurable success, which is crucial.
There are, of course, some exceptions when asking your direct supervisor isn’t the best bet. Perhaps you or your supervisor is new to the position, organization or role. This could be bad news if you or they haven’t been around long enough to speak intelligently about your abilities. Also, there may be conflicts of interest. Your supervisor could be a relative (in the case of a family business), or they could be opposed to you leaving your position for an MBA (if you’re applying to our full-time program), or in rare situations, you may not have a healthy relationship with your supervisor that may jeopardize your opportunity.
All of these are valid reasons for not getting a recommendation from your supervisor. You may want to elaborate on this in the Optional Essay to give us context for why you may have made this decision.
Other good recommendation options would be a former supervisor at a previous job, or a project manager. You may also consider a business client, lawyer, accountant, industry mentor, or other peer professional if you’re in a family business setting or in a consulting/ advertising role. Remember that whoever you choose needs to be able to discuss with us in detail your qualities, skills, and virtues.
Quick Tip: don’t just pick the CEO or President of the company. Just because they know your name and you have shared an elevator ride with them doesn’t mean they know you well enough to recommend you for b-school. We’ve read enough recommendations to know when somebody knows of you, and when they know you.
Get on Their Calendar.
Make sure to let your recommenders know in advance you are going to request their help. I would suggest letting them know a good three months ahead of time, if possible. It is also a good idea to meet with them, let them know what your short and long term goals are, why McCombs is the best school for you, and offer them a copy of your updated resume. That way they can talk about their belief in your direction and goals with some background.
One Final (obvious) Tip…
Most importantly, make sure to ask someone who actually likes you. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many candidates have recommendations submitted by people who write just a few words (“She’s really great.”), come up with poor examples (“One time we had a problem with a client, and she handled it well.”), or clearly just don’t think that highly of you (“She performs equally well when compared to her peers at a similar level.”). Yikes. You might as well have asked a perfect stranger to write your recommendation, and it probably would have come out better.
We look forward to reading these glowing professional love letters soon. if you have any questions about your application process please reach out to us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu.
Good luck in selecting your recommenders!