Who should I choose as a reference for my MBA Application?

Picture this: you are around six weeks from sending off your application for your MBA. You are required by the business school to present two to three recommendation letters to the admissions committee.

Recommendation letters from your chosen MBA references can make or break your application. The very best MBA application references will reinforce and strengthen your position with specific details about your personal qualities and related work experience that are highly desirable to the admissions committee. The very worst MBA applications can be a recipe for rejection that can completely misrepresent or undersell you as a candidate.

So, you’re asking yourself the question: “who should I choose as my MBA reference?”

In this blog, we will advise you on how to select your MBA references, so that you can relax in the knowledge that your well-rounded business school application stands out above the rest!

Choose people who understand what you are applying for

This first point may seem like a no-brainer, but you cannot undermine the value of picking references who at least have a broad idea of the course and understands the value of undertaking an MBA.

In an ideal world, these individuals have written successful MBA recommendation letters in the past too!

Choosing an MBA application reference who believes in the degree and recognises the expectations of the application process is a far greater prospect for you than a reference with very little understanding of what an MBA is, or even worse, someone who doesn’t appreciate the value of the degree.

Think about your work history

Look back at your career thus far. Have you ever had a line manager, a supervisor or even an indirect senior colleague who really valued you as an employee and the work that you undertook?

Then pick up the phone! Choose an MBA reference from your work history who can really attest to your solid career achievements and highlight your interpersonal and leadership skills.

If you don’t have many people who fit this profile, it is important that you start to cultivate these relationships.

Check out those reference letter requirements

Choosing an MBA application reference who does not match the business school’s criteria could entirely weaken your application.

It is therefore vital that the references you chose are compliant with the very specific letter requirements of your chosen school.

Make sure you thoroughly read your application’s instructions; as every school has different expectations of what their preferred MBA reference will look like.

Final Thoughts

One final point: it is important that you ensure that your resume is completely up-to-date so that it aligns with the MBA application references you have chosen.

It is critical in your application to choose someone, ideally a current or ex-colleague who not only meets the business school requirements but whole-heartedly advocates your career decision to move into higher levels of management.

If you need more information about studying your Master of Business Administration, read through our Ultimate MBA Guide.