mbaMission hosts a weekly blog series, “Admissions Myths Destroyed,” for our friends at Beat the GMAT. Check out the BTG site for fresh material and ours for “reprints.” The following piece was penned by mbaMission Founder, Jeremy Shinewald:
A few weeks ago, we tackled the myth that you must know alumni to get into top MBA programs (See Alumni Get You In!). Without rehashing that argument, a myth that is somewhat similar — in that it pertains to who you know instead of who you are — is that your recommendation must be written by someone with a flashy title. Each year, many candidates will either persuade someone outside their workplace (a Congressman for example) or an insider who does not know their work all that well (a Managing Director or CEO) to write on their behalf.
Unfortunately, when you have someone who depends on his/her title and not on actual knowledge of you, and thus writes a vague letter, the admissions committee will not get to know you, which undermines the very purpose of those letters. Even if you can educate someone far above you in the corporate hierarchy about your achievements and he/she can write a personal letter, it still will not make sense that a CEO, for example, knows what you, one of hundreds of analysts is doing , on a day in day out basis. So, the intimacy of this individual’s letter just might seem to be absurd. (Of course, if your CEO does actually know you and can write a personal letter that makes a logical connection between your position and his, it should be helpful.)
Instead of merely seeking a title, you should identify an individual who knows you well and can write about your strengths and even your weaknesses with sincerity. If your supervisor has an unspectacular title, it will not reflect on you. What will reflect on you is what he/she writes. If he/she can discuss your performance with powerful examples of standout achievement, then he/she will help you to the fullest.