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MBA Letter of Recommendation Template – with Samples

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An MBA (Masters of Business Administration) letter of recommendation is a document that is written in support of a particular student’s application for an MBA program. Most MBA programs require at least two (2) such letters to accompany a student’s application. Each university’s application process is different, so it is always important to consult each university’s application process to find the proper procedure for submitting a letter of recommendation.

The strongest references usually come from a former/current employer or supervisor because business schools prefer professional recommendations to academic recommendations. However, a professor or peer can also be chosen to write this letter. What is most important is that the writer knows the applicant through significant, direct involvement during the two or three years leading up to the application and is capable of providing detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions of the applicant’s qualification for business school. 

Table of Contents

What to Include

Like any letter of recommendation, this one should make the case that its subject is likely to succeed in future endeavors. It should include:

  • An explanation of how the recommender knows the MBA applicant
  • A brief description of the applicant and his or her best qualities
  • Specific examples to illustrate claims

Try to show rather than tell by including anecdotes. Just one hard-hitting example can be enough to convince an admissions committee that the candidate has the right stuff to succeed in the MBA program.

Who to Select?

As stated above, the best person to write an MBA letter of recommendation will come from the workplace, ideally from a current employer or direct supervisor. Business schools want factual, concrete anecdotes that demonstrate the applicant’s skills in business management. In the case that the candidate is self-employed or has recently begun a new position where their direct supervisor does not know them very well, they may instead select a previous supervisor, an indirect manager, a client, a member of their board of directors, or any other individual who evaluates their work to write their principal letter. The letter-writers should all be provided with a list of the schools which the candidate is applying for and why. They should also be given a copy of the student’s resume, goals statement/personal statement, and any other items the candidate would like the recommender to cover.

After securing someone to write their principal letter of recommendation, the candidate will usually need at least one more supporting recommendation letter. For a supporting letter of recommendation, the candidate could select any of the options listed above, or they could also choose a business school professor, a supervisor from a volunteering or part-time employment position, or they could select a peer, such as a co-worker. It is not the job title of the writer that impresses, it is what they say about the candidate. Therefore, when selecting who will write their letters of recommendation, the candidate should choose someone that will be truly enthused to provide a reference on their behalf and who will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter.

How to Write (Format)

An MBA letter of recommendation should fill one page and consist of an introduction, at least 2 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. These days, most MBA recommendation letters are submitted directly through the university/school website or received by email. For this reason, following the standard business letter format will often not be necessary. However, if the letter is being sent by mail or fax, a standard business letterhead should also be included. Again, be sure to review the unique submission formula for each university/school prior to writing or demanding a letter.

Introduction

The introduction should include a formal salutation, introduce the candidate, emphasize their recommendation, and briefly detail the nature and length of their association. The introduction need not be overlong, 2 or 3 sentences should suffice.

Example #1

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to endorse Patricia Leduc as a candidate most worthy of attending your MBA program. Patricia is a natural saleswoman and an excellent manager who possesses extraordinary interpersonal skills. During the past four years that she has worked with Andos Shoes Inc., I have seen her go from working as a sales rep, to taking on a management position, and now, as she plans to leave us, she has become an international buyer for the company.

Example #2

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to you in support of Jacob Gielgud’s application for your MBA program. During the past three years I have acted as his supervisor at Rhinestone Investments where he has been acting as Junior Manager. I can attest to his outstanding performance as a team manager, and I have witnessed first-hand his professionalism when handling clients. It is for these reasons that I can give Jacob my highest recommendation.

These two examples both provide the length of time that the author has known the applicant and their professional association to the applicant. By providing this information right off the bat, the rest of the letter will be more convincing and easier for the reader to assimilate.

Paragraph 1

In the first body paragraph of their letter, the author should relay the candidate’s qualifications and positive attributes. The applicant must be shown to have management skills such as leadership, organization, and personal drive. After all, they are applying for a Masters in Business Administration. It is more important that the descriptions and examples provided are specific than it is for them to be overly complimentary. A good guide for the writer would be to pick two or three qualities that they have observed in the applicant and make them the focus of the first paragraph.

Example #1

Mr. Umbabe excels in maintaining a workflow and through his dedicated work ethic, is able not only to keep his team on target, he also able to keep an eye on intake to make sure that there is no disruption to his system. In the world of finance and investment, technological skills and mathematical acumen are what can give a skilled business mind an advantage on competitors. Marshall excels in these areas, and for this reason he is able to keep up to speed with all of his team members.

Example #2

Gwyneth started at our firm as an intern after having completed her law degree. We are a small but extremely competitive and lucrative group, counting some of the wealthiest members of the community as our clients. Through her assuredness and capability, Gwyneth quickly proved herself worthy of being a salaried employee and became our go-between, representing us in order to attract new clients and expand our base. She is an incredibly astute individual when it comes to conducting negotiations and has an uncanny ability to make a deal that works for the client while favoring the firm’s bottom line.

In both of the above examples, the authors do a good job of focusing on a few qualities that illustrate the candidates’ management skills and business qualifications.

Paragraph 2

The second body paragraph should go into more depth regarding the applicant’s character and provide more specific examples of how they’ve dealt with their assigned responsibilities. The author shouldn’t hesitate to temper their praise with mild criticism if applicable; the more honest the letter, the more convincing the praise. However, if they do so, they should also describe how the candidate responded to the adverse situation or criticism.

Example #1

When Steven took this job, he approached it in a serious manner. He took pride in that the position he was taking, the representative for the Nanotechnology department, knowing that he would be the face of his division. I was impressed with how someone so young was so capable of organizing such a task and making it a success, alongside a full course load and a job at Motorola Machines. It was no small feat coordinating the secretary, the Student Council, the managers coming in and all the technology involved, yet he performed extraordinarily well. Joe told everyone what to do regarding the publicizing of the events and the organization of the lecture, and he did it with professionalism, care, and a great attention to detail.

In this example, in addition to providing a specific instance that demonstrates the candidate’s managements skills, the author details how the candidate was able to deal with an adverse situation.

Example #2

It is far from unusual to see new managers encounter problems when their team’s productivity begins to drop and objectives are not being met, but how they respond to the situation is what defines their potential. Juana encountered just such a situation, when the number of client calls being handled by her group was dropping far below the expected projection. Having already dealt with multiple members of her team on an individual basis to rectify the situation, she saw that the solution lay in removing the least productive salespeople and offering overtime to those with a higher level of performance. While this proved to only be a short term solution, it did ensure that company profits on her group’s behalf were not affected by inferior performance during that quarter.

Here, we can see that the writer has used a specific example to demonstrate how the applicant was able to respond to an adverse situation and take their own initiative.

Conclusion

In writing their conclusion, the author should sum up why the candidate shows promise in business management, reiterate their recommendation of the candidate, leave an invitation for further contact, a preferred method of contact, and finish with a formal sign off followed by their signature (for mailed letter or fax) and typed name.

Example #1

As the above examples demonstrate, Juana Fernandez possesses incredible capabilities as a manager and salesperson. With her ambition and intellect, I am certain that Juana will excel as a student. While I may be sad to see her leave the company, I fully support her pursuing further studies and enter into a higher sphere of the business world. Feel free to contact me if you require any further information.

Sincere Regards,

Ian MacMillan
Senior Manager, Qualicum Sales

Example #2

In conclusion, Ms. Williams shows much promise in the field of business administration and investment. As a financial profile manager she has proven her ability to turn an impressive profit and to maintain multiple client relationships to a more than satisfactory level. I have complete confidence that she will be a laudable addition to your MBA program. I can be contacted at the phone number provided below if you have further questions regarding Sheena’s application.

Sincerely,

Alan Fairfax, Senior Coordinator
Heartland Commerce​

In the examples given above, in addition to following the guidelines provided, they both give an eye to what the future holds for the candidates. By ending a recommendation letter with a description of the candidate’s potential, the authors emphasize that the candidates have further growth to achieve through an MBA program. In a continued education program such as an MBA, it is important that a student will be able to use this as an opportunity for further growth.

Sample 1

Dear Admissions Committee,

I enthusiastically offer this letter in support of Charlotte Smith’s application for admission to the MBA program at Harvard Business School.

I have worked with Charlotte for the past five years at the Westbank Consulting Group. I was her immediate supervisor during her first two years, when she worked as an analyst, and have been her colleague since she was promoted to principal associate in 2015. Charlotte is a singular colleague, exemplifying a unique combination of creativity, grit, humility, and collaborative spirit.

While we take pride is cultivating a supportive environment at Westbank, the breakneck pace of work and the general rigor is not for everyone. Charlotte, however, has risen to each and every challenge. She was recently recognized by the firm for her work on a time-sensitive forensic audit. Though contending with missing documents and many adversarial parties, she logged many late nights, devised necessary workarounds, and looped others in on the project to assist with some of the more exotic issues that arose.

I have no doubt that Charlotte will be a successful in business school and her future career.

If there is anything else that I can provide in support of Charlotte’s application, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jane Armitage

Sample 2

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to recommend Karen Beausoleil for your MBA program. Karen has served as the Accountant and Senior Finance Manager at Pro Forma Productions since I started the company four years ago. In that time, the business has gone from a small local startup to a fully-fledged company with offices in three major cities.

When I started Pro Forma as a production company to work with local television, music video, and film productions in the Long Beach area, Karen was introduced to me by a mutual friend to handle our finances. At that time, she had just completed her accounting degree and being put in charge of managing the finances for new company was a daunting task. Karen quickly ironed out a financial plan, set up all of our business accounts, and worked closely with the rest of the team in order to ensure that we were setting reasonable financial objectives.

The success of our company can only be put on the fact that we were clearly fulfilling a demand and, in no small part thanks to Karen, had an infrastructure put in place to accommodate rapid growth. As the company grew, Karen’s role switched from hands-on involvement to taken on more administrative responsibilities, ultimately becoming our Senior Finance Manager. Our company handles all aspects of production from financing through to promotion, and Karen is the person responsible for setting up our network of producers and accountants who make all of this work possible.

Karen Beausoleil is not only incredibly qualified and adept in finance management, she is also a bright and charming person who is a joy to work with. While she will be sorely missed from our company, I completely support her decision to move on to new horizons. Pro Forma has greatly benefited from her intelligence, organization, and drive as I’m sure your program will.

If you have would like any more information regarding Ms. Beausoleil’s application, please do not hesitate to contact me at : ebryant@proformaprod.net.

Sincerely,

Edith Bryant

Sample 3

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to endorse Charles Whitman’s application for your MBA program. Charles has worked as an Junior Analyst in the Equity Research department here at JP Morgan from July 2015 to June 2017, during which time I oversaw his work and progress. I can personally vouch for his capabilities as an analyst.

As a Junior Analyst, Mr. Whitman’s responsibilities included creating and maintaining industry databases and financial models, and helping with report writing. In both his data work and report writing, Charles has always delivered his work on time and at a high quality standard level. Working closely with the department Associate, Charles always showed himself to be extremely helpful and capable of handling his own work-load without a need for excessive supervision. Furthermore, his positive attitude and professionalism set him apart during the interview process and were remarked upon in the office.

One arena in which Charles has demonstrated his talents in the field of investment is during our morning meetings. Every morning, we discuss current developments in the market and what where the major movements will be in our portfolios that day. On more than one occasion, Charles proved himself to not only possess incredible research skills in rapidly developing market areas, but to also have an instinct for the timing of buying and selling. Although his responsibilities erred more on the side of clerical work, Mr. Whitman was able to bring extra value to our department by sharing his view on the ever-changing market and our client profiles.

I fully support Charles in his decision to pursue an MBA and I offer him my highest endorsement. He has my utmost confidence that he will thrive in whichever area of business he wishes to pursue. Please contact me at the phone number provided below if you have any more questions regarding Mr. Whitman’s application.

Sincerely,

Bob Rothchild
Senior Analyst


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