Tuck: Write Your Rec Letter & Face Expulsion

NOT SWAYED BY BY THE TITLE OF A VIP RECOMMENDER

Another question Tuck frequently receives is, ‘I work for a family company and my supervisor is my mother, father, uncle, etc. [or I am an entrepreneur and I don’t have a supervisor] Who should I use?’  “We do not recommend asking family for a recommendation,” Harrison advised. “No matter how hard they try, there is going to be a perceived bias in their comments.  In these situations, we suggest asking a client, customer, outside advisor, or a non-family member in a high-level position within the organization to write for you instead.  You can also use a former supervisor if you worked for another company before you joined your family company or started your own business.  A business partner is also a good option if you are an entrepreneur.”

Harrison said that with the exception of an extracurricular activity, she wouldn’t recommend choosing people who don’t interact with a candidate on a professional basis.  “Steer clear of asking professors,” she wrote. “We know how you performed in the class from your grades, and professors are not usually in a position to provide insight into the areas we are most interested in learning about.  Likewise, having a friend write for you isn’t helpful.  They can’t speak to the areas we are looking for, and they come across as biased too.  Occasionally we will see recommendations from a VIP like a government official or high level business leader that the applicant may know but doesn’t work with.  This isn’t helpful.  Again, we aren’t swayed by the title.”

MOST FREQUENT QUESTIONS ASKED BY APPLICANTS AT TUCK ON RECOMMENDATION LETTERS

She also identified other frequent questions and provided insight on each:

“I have had more than one job – should I have two recommendations from my current employer or one from each?”  

“Use your best judgment on this one.  If your prior job was a long time ago, the information about your performance there might be less relevant.  However, if you have only been in each job a relatively short time, or the two jobs were very different, having the perspective from each employer helps us get a more complete picture of you.  It also helps us see that you left a prior job on good terms.  If two recommendations from the same employer will say essentially the same thing, then giving perspective from another employer is also nice to see.”

“What if I have a new supervisor who doesn’t know me well?”  

“Explain the situation to us in the optional essay and select someone from my suggestions above who does know you well.”

“Should my recommender be a Tuck alum?”  

“Only if he or she works with you closely and can speak about your job performance in detail,” Harrison said. “Again, we are not swayed by the title or the credentials; we want the recommender to know you well.  That said, if you work with a Tuckie, they would be a great choice, particularly since they can also speak to your fit for Tuck.

“Can I submit more than two recommendations?”  

“We would prefer you didn’t.  Only submit a 3rd if you feel it is absolutely critical to providing a complete picture of your candidacy.”

“What if my recommender doesn’t speak English?” 

In this situation, you should have your recommender write his comments in his native language, and then have it translated into English by an official translator.  You should not translate it for him.”

DON’T MISS: WHY MBAS ARE WRITING THEIR OWN REC LETTERS or WRANGLING GREAT RECOMMENDATION LETTERS

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.