A successful MBA application relies on a strong letter of recommendation. In this webinar, expert Candy Lee LaBalle explains what a letter of recommendation is – and why it is not a letter at all – and clears all doubts about who to ask, when to seek it, and how to ensure your recommenders write good letters.

Candy Lee LaBalle is a founder of LaBalle Admissions, which is dedicated to taking the mystery, and the misery, out of the MBA application process. As an expert in MBA admissions and twice elected to the Board of the Association of International Admissions Consultants, the leading organization for graduate admissions, Candy Lee LaBalle is among the top best-rated consultants in the world with a personalized approach and tailored advice. She has helped more than 600 applicants get into their dream schools. If you want to learn more about LaBalle Admissions and get support with your MBA application, do not hesitate to visit their website: https://laballe.co/.

Why are letters of recommendation important?

Given today’s holistic approach to MBA education, your letter of recommendation, or LoR for short, becomes essential. A good LoR gives unique insights and outside perspective, which any CV or GMAT score cannot provide. Candy Lee LaBalle clarifies that it contains information about your supervisors’ opinion of you, thus validating your application.

Who could write my letter of recommendation?

If you are considering the CEO of your company or a colleague with an MBA degree as a recommender, think twice. As LaBalle explains, the best recommender is someone who knows your strengths well and can provide real-life examples over the course of the past three years. Of course, that person should be enthusiastic about writing a strong LoR, as it can be hard work if you apply for multiple schools. If you work at a company with a clear hierarchy, a great recommender can be your line manager. For those who cannot ask their manager or are self-employed, a client lead, a former manager or an external advisor could be a valuable choice.

The process of getting an LoR explained

Candy Lee LaBalle goes on to explain the whole process, starting with a surprising fact: a letter of recommendation is not an actual letter but an online form that contains personal data, assessment ratings, and specific questions. While some schools have their own questions, LaBalle suggests getting familiar with the GMAC Common LoR. Most B-schools use some form of this common LoR which has four questions and an assessment that covers 12 leadership competencies such as teamwork, emotional intelligence, initiative and leadership.

The whole process can be divided into several concrete steps, beginning with deciding whom to ask to write an impressive LoR and ending with actively managing those recommenders to ensure they write and submit the LoR.

How do I get a good LoR?

LaBalle shares some valuable tips. She says it’s crucial to start building relationships long before you decide to apply. Seek advice, reach out to senior staff, stay in touch and focus on growth.

It is also advisable to help and manage your recommender: meet them, share your goals, and thank them. LaBalle also advises preparing a Recommender Welcome Kit, which can include a Thank You note, your resume and goals, the schools of your choice and respective deadlines, an explanation of the whole process and LoR questions with examples.

In the end, a great LoR is more than an MBA application document – it reflects your true self.