PRESTIGE MBA ADMISSIONS:
A HOW-TO GUIDE FOR THE WRITERS OF
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
(L.O.R.)
SOME GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR ...
TO THE RECOMMENDER
• WELCOME, FRIEND. YOU ARE A MENTOR, AND FROM THAT FLOW TWO
INFERENCES
• YOU HAVE AN INTEREST IN YOUR M...
TO THE RECOMMENDER [CONT’D]
• YOU MIGHT NOT BE AS FAMILIAR WITH THE CONTOURS OF PRESTIGE MBA
ADMISSIONS
• SOMETIMES COMMON...
THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT THE READER
• SITUATION
• THEY WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE APPLICANT (ABILITIES, EXPERIENCES, JUDGMEN...
THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT THE READER
• BECAUSE THEY HAVE SEEN IT ALL
• INCLUDING MANY TYPES OF EXAGGERATED DESPERATION
• I...
HOW?
BY BRIDGING THE COMMUNICATIONS CHASM
• CREDIBILITY IS KEY
• AND, IN YOUR RUSH TO PAINT A GLOWING PORTRAIT (BOTH LOR W...
BELIEVABILITY:
JUST BECAUSE IT’S IN A GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT
SENTENCE DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE TO BELIEVE
YOU
• ESTABLISH YOU...
CREDIBILITY:
JUST BECAUSE IT’S IN A GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT
SENTENCE DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE TO BELIEVE
YOU
• PRAISE THE APPL...
PROCESS TIPS: #1
• THE APPLICANT AND THE LOR WRITER
• SHOULD CONFER FOR 15-30 MINUTES
• IDEALLY “SOCIALLY,” AS IN OVER COF...
PROCESS TIPS: #2
• DURING THE INITIAL CONFERENCE THE APPLICANT SHOULD USE THAT TIME TO
EXPLAIN HIS/HER
• CAREER VISION – A...
LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: #1
• WE ALL RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’RE DOING THE APPLICANT A FAVOR
• PRUDENT APPLICANTS BUILD PLENTY...
LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: #2
• THE OUTCOME TO BE AVOIDED IS
• A MICRO-PROJECT THAT STARTS WITH BONHOMIE
• BUT THEN LANGUI...
FORMAL CONSIDERATIONS:
IT’S A FORM
• IT’S NOT REALLY A LETTER
• IT’S A SERIES OF SCHOOL-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS (WITH OVERLAP A...
INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE EMBLEMATIC
EXAMPLE
HBS
• PREVIOUS SLIDE
• Q.E.D. (POINT PROVEN)
COACHING & COORDINATING
VERSUS DICTATING
• IT’S A GIVEN THAT ETHICALLY MINDED PEOPLE DO NOT GHOST-WRITE
• THE FACT THAT WE...
THE APPLICANT IS THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLE
• THAT RELATES RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN
• THE PERSONAL STATEMENTS GENERATED IN RESPONSE...
DON’T UNDERCUT ALL THAT YOU’RE DOING
• BY USING LANGUAGE WHOSE TELL-TALE SIGNS REVEAL THE FINGERPRINTS OF
INAPPROPRIATE LE...
LOR-WRITER:
ANCHOR YOUR JUDGMENT &
DEMONSTRATE YOUR OWN INSIGHTS
• SHARE THE DEPTH OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN YOUR...
LOR-WRITER:
ANCHOR YOUR JUDGMENT &
DEMONSTRATE YOUR OWN INSIGHTS
• AVOID EXAGGERATIONS:
• TO CALL SOMEONE 99%ILE IS MERELY...
PLAINSPOKEN & DIRECT.
NO NEED TO BE FORMAL & DEFERENTIAL
• IF ANYONE SHOULD BE, IT’S THE APPLICANT, NOT YOU
• AND APPLICAN...
WRITING THESE THINGS GETS EASIER WITH
TIME
(FOR WHAT THAT’S WORTH)
• REMEMBER, THIS ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE.
• RATHER, IT’S A...
WRITING THESE THINGS GET EASIER WITH
TIME
(FOR WHAT THAT’S WORTH)
• GOOD LUCK!
• PLAN WELL!
• PARTNER WITH EACH OTHER
• AL...
MORE INSIGHTS INTO PRESTIGE MBA ADMISSIONS AVAILABLE AT
.com
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Prestige MBA Letters of Recommendation -- the L.O.R. Writer's Guide (to be shared BY the Applicant)

A How-Go guide for the Applicant to Give to the Mentor/Writer of the L.O.R. The guide contains actionable advice for the Mentor/Writer (and of course advice equally actionable and applicable to the Applicant) The presentation helps to demonstrate that partnering together, each party aware of its contributions and responsibilities, is the best way to approach the project. Coaching & coordinating is acceptable; ghost writing is not. The L.O.R. and the essays/personal statements that the applicant submit will of course be recognizably similar - but that's because the applicant is the unifying principle! It's not because the L.O.R. has been ghost written! Also, because the entire application space is not unlike a well poisoned by the serial liars and exaggerators who came before you in years past, the Guide offers actionable lessons in how to establish your credibility as a writer of an L.O.R. whose opinion should matter. Don't bow and scrape and flatter the B-School. Speak directly about why you care about your mentee.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Career      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Prestige MBA Letters of Recommendation -- the L.O.R. Writer's Guide (to be shared BY the Applicant)

  • 1. PRESTIGE MBA ADMISSIONS: A HOW-TO GUIDE FOR THE WRITERS OF LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION (L.O.R.) SOME GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE RECOMMENDER SUMMER 2014
  • 2. TO THE RECOMMENDER • WELCOME, FRIEND. YOU ARE A MENTOR, AND FROM THAT FLOW TWO INFERENCES • YOU HAVE AN INTEREST IN YOUR MENTEE’S PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT & WELL- BEING • OTHERWISE YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE TO READ THIS BRIEF GUIDE • MBA MORALIST ASSUMES YOU KNOW YOUR BUSINESS/INDUSTRY WELL – DITTO FOR THE APPLICANT WHOM YOU’RE RECOMMENDING • YOUR JUDGMENT WITH RESPECT TO THE FIRST AND INTIMACY WITH RESPECT TO THE APPLICANT CAN COMBINE QUITE POWERFULLY • THERE ARE, HOWEVER, SOME NON-OBVIOUS PITFALLS TO BE AVOIDED: THE PURPOSE OF THIS GUIDE
  • 3. TO THE RECOMMENDER [CONT’D] • YOU MIGHT NOT BE AS FAMILIAR WITH THE CONTOURS OF PRESTIGE MBA ADMISSIONS • SOMETIMES COMMON SENSE (E.G. “SELL HARD”) IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE • (SEE BELOW IN ‘CREDIBILITY’ SECTION) • TO SEE WHY THIS MIGHT BE SO…
  • 4. THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT THE READER • SITUATION • THEY WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE APPLICANT (ABILITIES, EXPERIENCES, JUDGMENT, WISDOM – AND POTENTIAL) • IN A CONTEXT OF GLOBALIZED HYPER-COMPETITION FOR SOMETHING THAT IS TRULY VALUABLE AND WORTH HAVING, SO….
  • 5. THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT THE READER • BECAUSE THEY HAVE SEEN IT ALL • INCLUDING MANY TYPES OF EXAGGERATED DESPERATION • IN RESPONSE THEY HAVE ADOPTED A STANCE OF BEING • SKEPTICAL (IN THE EXTREME) • BUT ALSO (NON-PARADOXICALLY) CURIOUS & PERSUADABLE • WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR L.O.R. WRITERS?(& ALSO, OF COURSE, FOR APPLICANTS?) • YOU HAVE TO REACH THAT STANDARD AND, YOU KNOW, ACTUALLY PERSUADE
  • 6. HOW? BY BRIDGING THE COMMUNICATIONS CHASM • CREDIBILITY IS KEY • AND, IN YOUR RUSH TO PAINT A GLOWING PORTRAIT (BOTH LOR WRITER & APPLICANT), TAKE CARE NOT TO UNDERMINE IT • EXAGGERATIONS & ENTHUSIASMS DEBASE THE CURRENCY YOU’RE PINNING YOUR CASE ON • AIM TO CONVEY AN AURA OF DISCERNING JUDGMENT • YOUR PERSONA SHOULD DEMONSTRATE IT • IN PRACTICE THIS IS AS MUCH A MATTER OF TONE AS IT IS OF SPECIFIC CONTENT & EVIDENCE
  • 7. BELIEVABILITY: JUST BECAUSE IT’S IN A GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT SENTENCE DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU • ESTABLISH YOUR CREDIBILITY/RELIABILITY AS A NARRATOR THROUGH • JUDICIOUS AND MEASURED ASSESSMENTS • OF COURSE YOUR SUBJECT SHOULD COME OFF STRONG – YOU TWO HAVE A BOND OF EXPERIENCE AND RESPECT • BUT REMEMBER • NO ONE IS EQUALLY GOOD AT EVERYTHING, SO LEAVE PERFECTION TO THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS • SOMEONE WHO IS PERFECT HAS NO NEED OF FURTHER EDUCATION – AND WE DON’T WANT TO OPEN GAPS BETWEEN WHAT WE PROFESS AND THE ACTIONS WE ELECT TO UNDERTAKE
  • 8. CREDIBILITY: JUST BECAUSE IT’S IN A GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT SENTENCE DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU • PRAISE THE APPLICANT’S ANALYTICAL INTELLIGENCE, BUT OFFSET IT WITH LEADERSHIP COMMENTS THAT SUGGEST BOTH STRONG PROMISE BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANTLY • ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT – ESPECIALLY AS LEADERSHIP (EXCLUDING SWAGGER) BENEFITS FROM WISDOM & SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE WHICH ACCRUE WITH AGE & EXPERIENCE • EXAMPLE • “HIS ANALYTICAL SKILLS ARE EVERYTHING ONE COULD HOPE FOR AND SOMETHING THAT WE RELY UPON GREATLY. THAT SAID, EARLIER IN HIS TENURE, THERE WERE A FEW TIMES WHEN IN HIS “YOUNG TURK” EAGERNESS, CERTAIN OTHER PARTIES FELT A BIT MARGINALIZED, OVER-POWERED. WHEN WE POINTED OUT THE DYNAMICS TO HIM, HE SAW THE POINT AND THOSE TYPES OF INCIDENTS DROPPED OFF DRAMATICALLY.”
  • 9. PROCESS TIPS: #1 • THE APPLICANT AND THE LOR WRITER • SHOULD CONFER FOR 15-30 MINUTES • IDEALLY “SOCIALLY,” AS IN OVER COFFEE • REALISTICALLY CONCEDING TO THE L.O.R. WRITER’S SCHEDULE CONSTRAINTS – IN THE LOR’S OFFICE • DEVELOP A ROUGH TIMELINE • INCLUDING EXPLICIT TOUCH-BASE DATES ABOUT THE LOR WRITER’S PROGRESS • ALL PARTIES CONCERNED RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’RE DOING US A FAVOR, BUT AS WE HAVE AN EXTERNALLY IMPOSED DEADLINE TO MEET, KINDLY EXTEND THE APPLICANT THE FAVOR OF YOUR INDULGENCE WITH RESPECT TO MONITORING YOUR PROGRESS
  • 10. PROCESS TIPS: #2 • DURING THE INITIAL CONFERENCE THE APPLICANT SHOULD USE THAT TIME TO EXPLAIN HIS/HER • CAREER VISION – AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE PROFESSIONAL HISTORY TO DATE THAT BOTH KNOW • EXPECTATIONS OF THE PROGRAM IN TERMS OF SKILLS & COURSEWORK • I.E. HOW THE DEGREE WILL HELP WITH THE PIVOT/LAUNCH, ESPECIALLY IF THE APPLICANT IS INTENT ON DEEPER EXPERTISE WITHIN YOUR INDUSTRY IN COMMON • ASK THE LOR WRITER FOR AN HONEST ASSESSMENT OF WHERE S/HE STANDS IN THE LOR WRITER’S HUMAN CAPITAL ESTIMATES • BE HONEST. DEFINE CONTOURS OF RELATIVE STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES. NO ONE IS PERFECT.
  • 11. LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: #1 • WE ALL RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’RE DOING THE APPLICANT A FAVOR • PRUDENT APPLICANTS BUILD PLENTY OF LEAD TIME INTO THEIR REQUEST • FURTHERMORE, THE DEADLINES ARE A TINY BIT FLEXIBLE FOR THIS, YOUR THIRD-PARTY CONTRIBUTION TO AN APPLICATION • PLEASE ALLOW THE APPLICANT TO MANAGE UP (TO YOU - YOU’RE LIKELY USED TO IT IN ANY CASE!) • TOGETHER, LOOK AT YOUR CALENDAR FOR BIG BANDWIDTH-SUCKS • PLEASE BE HONEST & FORTHRIGHT IN CONVEYING YOUR PROGRESS OR LACK THEREOF
  • 12. LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: #2 • THE OUTCOME TO BE AVOIDED IS • A MICRO-PROJECT THAT STARTS WITH BONHOMIE • BUT THEN LANGUISHES ONLY TO RESULT IN THE LOR AUTHOR ASKING THE APPLICANT TO GHOST WRITE SOMETHING LAST MINUTE, WHICH WILL BE DUTIFULLY SIGNED • TAKE-AWAYS FOR THE TWO OF YOU • MENTOR/LOR WRITER: PLEASE, IF YOUR MENTEE HAS GIVEN YOU MORE THAN A MONTH’S NOTICE (IDEALLY CLOSER TO TWO), DON’T PUT THEM IN THAT UNENVIABLE SITUATION • APPLICANT: SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF AND ASK ABOUT THE STATUS OF THIS CRUCIAL FAVOR
  • 13. FORMAL CONSIDERATIONS: IT’S A FORM • IT’S NOT REALLY A LETTER • IT’S A SERIES OF SCHOOL-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS (WITH OVERLAP AMONG SCHOOLS, TO BE SURE) WITH SOME NUMERICAL RATING SCALES & FREE-FORM TEXT INPUTS • THE SCHOOL IS TRYING TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS • TO STANDARDIZE • & YET NOT SACRIFICE THE INSIGHT FROM A VIVID ANECDOTE
  • 14. INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE EMBLEMATIC EXAMPLE HBS • PREVIOUS SLIDE • Q.E.D. (POINT PROVEN)
  • 15. COACHING & COORDINATING VERSUS DICTATING • IT’S A GIVEN THAT ETHICALLY MINDED PEOPLE DO NOT GHOST-WRITE • THE FACT THAT WE ALL KNOW THIS OCCURS DOES NOT MAKE IT ANY BETTER • YOU WOULDN’T BE LISTENING TO MBA MORALIST IF YOU DIDN’T AGREE • RECOGNIZABLE RESEMBLANCE OF PORTRAITS (ONE IN LOR ONE IN PERSONAL STATEMENTS): • GOOD • MESSAGING COORDINATION & TALKING POINTS • BAD
  • 16. THE APPLICANT IS THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLE • THAT RELATES RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN • THE PERSONAL STATEMENTS GENERATED IN RESPONSE TO THE SCHOOL’S PROMPTS & • THE SUBJECT OF THE LOR THAT YOU’RE WRITING • IT’S NOT OUR FAULT THAT ENGLISH HAS A RELATIVELY LIMITED NUMBER OF WAYS TO EXPRESS CERTAIN NOTIONS & STRONG IDEAS • BUT BECAUSE GHOST-WRITING IS A NO-NO, VERBOTEN IN THE STRONGEST TERMS AND UNETHICAL… • THE LANGUAGE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY COORDINATED OR PROGRAMMED • TIGHTLY ON-MESSAGE TALKING POINTS TEND TO SUGGEST A GREATER AMOUNT OF COORDINATION THAN IS ETHICALLY PERMISSIBLE
  • 17. DON’T UNDERCUT ALL THAT YOU’RE DOING • BY USING LANGUAGE WHOSE TELL-TALE SIGNS REVEAL THE FINGERPRINTS OF INAPPROPRIATE LEVELS OF APPLICANT-INVOLVEMENT • WE READERS ARE SORT OF LOOKING FOR THAT AND TAKE AN ALMOST UNSEEMLY GLEE WHEN WE FIND IT, FOR IT’S SO OBVIOUS, HEAVY-HANDED, AND HAS MADE OUR DAY EASIER
  • 18. LOR-WRITER: ANCHOR YOUR JUDGMENT & DEMONSTRATE YOUR OWN INSIGHTS • SHARE THE DEPTH OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN YOUR INDUSTRY • AND YOUR OBSERVATIONS OF CAREER PATHS WITHIN – AND ALSO, IF APPROPRIATE, PIVOTS TO ELSEWHERE • COMPARE THE APPLICANT’S PROFILE OF STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES TO THE INDUSTRY’S DRIVERS – AND BETTER STILL: CONTEXTUALIZE IT WITH RESPECT TO THEIR PLANS FOR THE MBA • THAT WAY YOU’RE SITUATING THE APPLICANT IN A JUDGMENT/CONSIDERATION THAT THE READER SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO
  • 19. LOR-WRITER: ANCHOR YOUR JUDGMENT & DEMONSTRATE YOUR OWN INSIGHTS • AVOID EXAGGERATIONS: • TO CALL SOMEONE 99%ILE IS MERELY AN EXAGGERATED ENTHUSIASM COMING FROM A NON-PSCYHOMETRICIAN (WHICH YOU ARE NOT) • THERE ARE MORE QUALITATIVE WAYS TO CONVEY YOUR ENTHUSIASM • “SOMEONE WHO TOOK TO THIS FIELD LIKE SHE DID – COMES AROUND ONCE EVERY FEW YEARS. YOUR MBA IS POLISHING OFF AN IMPRESSIVE FOUNDATIONAL BASE.”
  • 20. PLAINSPOKEN & DIRECT. NO NEED TO BE FORMAL & DEFERENTIAL • IF ANYONE SHOULD BE, IT’S THE APPLICANT, NOT YOU • AND APPLICANTS NEED NOT CRINGINGLY BOW & SCRAPE • RATHER, THEY SHOULD TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES WITH THE QUIET CONFIDENCE BORNE OF • INTROSPECTION • SELF-UNDERSTANDING • AND JUDICIOUS PLANNING • AN ALMOST-INTOXICATING MIX FOR THE ADCOMM, STRONGLY SUGGESTING THAT THE APPLICANT FIGURED OUT THE PROGRAM’S VALUE AND THE WHY NOW? /WHY HERE? FOR THEMSELVES
  • 21. WRITING THESE THINGS GETS EASIER WITH TIME (FOR WHAT THAT’S WORTH) • REMEMBER, THIS ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE. • RATHER, IT’S A FOCUSED VERSION OF WHAT WE ALL DO EACH AND EVERY DAY: • FORM JUDGMENTS ABOUT PEOPLE WE ENCOUNTER IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS • IF IT SOUNDS LIKE B.S., IT LIKELY IS.
  • 22. WRITING THESE THINGS GET EASIER WITH TIME (FOR WHAT THAT’S WORTH) • GOOD LUCK! • PLAN WELL! • PARTNER WITH EACH OTHER • ALWAYS BEARING IN MIND THAT • EACH OF YOU (LOR WRITER, APPLICANT) INDIVIDUALLY HAS SOMETHING TO DO TO SUPPORT THE OTHER THAT NO ON ELSE REALLY CAN DO FOR YOU -- NOR SHOULD YOU WANT THEM TO
  • 23. MORE INSIGHTS INTO PRESTIGE MBA ADMISSIONS AVAILABLE AT .com

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