Keep your application straight forward
The one simple way to make recommendation letters contribute to your admission process is to keep your application straight and honest. Present the facts as they actually are - be truthful about every claim you make in every aspect of your application.
There is one thing that you certainly can do and that is to choose the people who can recommend you judiciously. Choose a person who knows you well and likes you as a person and then ask him/her to give a fair assessment of you as a person in the recommendation letter.
Your application form will give you details about the recommendation letters you are required to submit. The number of recommendations and from whom - whether from your work or from your school or both.
Choosing Your Recommenders
Business Schools: Most schools require 2-3 recommendation letters. Choosing the appropriate mix of recommenders largely depends on the program you are applying for. For an MBA program, two recommendations from work and one from school is generally a good balance. If the school asks for only two recommendations, it would be advisable to get both work related. As far as possible, it is advisable to get one recommendation letter from your immediate supervisor. However, if it is not possible, then a former supervisor would be a good choice. As a last alternative, you could use a colleague who has worked closely with you. It is not advised to apply without a recommendation from your current job place. For more details, check out the recommendation letter section on the MBA channel.
Graduate Programs: For an MS or Doctoral program, you should get atleast two recommendations from your professors. If you have performed research or worked on thesis, it is highly recommended that you get the reference letter from your Advisor. If you worked for a company either full time or as a summer intern, you could take one letter from your immediate supervisor.
Undergraduate Programs: For candidates applying for an undergraduate program, very few schools ask for a recommendation letter. If asked, you should get it from one of your favorite teachers in school.
Some other points to keep in mind while choosing your recommender:
- Choose individuals who know you nicely. Rather than selecting a famous person that has no intimate understanding of your skills as well as abilities, it is a lot more powerful to utilize a person who may illustrate your strengths and demonstrate at your greatest.
- Choose individuals who really like a person. It is important that the recommender invests amount of time in writing your suggestion. A person who likes you'll take out the time in addition to put a positive spin in your qualities.
- Choose people who are able to address several key criterion: your company and managerial abilities, intellectual ability, management potential, maturity, function ethics etc.
- Give your recommender a plan of the assignments you've handled at function. Include in the actual outline some suggestions how he/she might tackle specific issues for example analytical ability, ethics, intellectual curiosity and so on.