The only thing better than talking about how amazing you are is having other people do it for you. In this video Bhavik, the managing partner of Critical Square, talks about the role of recommendations in an application - how to pick the right recommenders and some things to keep in mind.
Recommendations play an important role in the application process. Far more than most of the applicants realise. Most people think that everyone’s recommender writes nice things, so it’s really not that useful. The truth is that in an application process filled with material provided by the applicant, the recommendation is the sole third party data point. It offers an additional perspective on who you are and what sets you apart, so it is considered very valuable.
There are two things to keep in mind when choosing your recommender. First, you have to consider whether this person truly cares about you and your goals enough to invest in the process. It’s an honour, but it is also a responsibility and your recommenders need to understand that. Secondly, your recommenders need to provide complementary perspectives. Don’t pick two people who have worked with you in a similar capacity. Instead, try to find a mix of professional and personal perspectives or strategic and tactical perspectives. Also, prepare your recommenders. Provide them with documentation on your performance, your story, and the schools you are applying to and walk them through the process. It’s important to understand that it is not a good idea to write your own recommendation under any circumstances. It’s unethical and it undermines the process.
Recommendations are a critical component of the application and it’s important to be meticulous in how you pick and prep your recommenders. After all, they can make or break your chances.