Best practices for EMBA application recommendations

Recommendations are a key ingredient in the candidate decision. What are some best practices?

  • Ensure the recommender uses specific examples of your abilities
  • Review your goals of getting an EMBA with your recommender
  • Higher level leaders without direct knowledge of your work are less valuable
  • Members of your current organization generally provide the most relevant content
  • Give recommenders at least one week to complete the task

UNC Kenan-Flagler recommendation guidance

What should be in a recommendation letter?
The letter of recommendation is actually a form that provides an opportunity for your references to use a guided assessment. This form creates efficiency for your recommender, while providing the contextual information to evaluate your candidacy. For individuals who may wish to ‘write’ a letter rather than complete the form, letters may be sent to:

Who should complete the forms?
We generally suggest at least three professional contacts, including your direct supervisor, if possible. If you haven’t approached your supervisor about an executive MBA program, consider leaders within your organization who can appropriately identify your strengths and weaknesses. A common myth is to have the most senior individual at an organization complete the recommendation. In reality, obtaining a recommendation from someone who can share specific work examples is more advantageous for the admissions committee.

What should I tell my recommenders to write?
The more specific the content, the better. Suggest that the recommenders write directly about a goal that you’ve reached or a strength that you’re known for at your organization.

What type of people outside of my employer should I ask?
An organization that you volunteer with could provide fertile ground for recommenders. In addition, you may want to consider clients, or vendors with whom you have a business relationship.

What is the time estimate to complete the recommendation form?
Approximately 10 – 15 minutes, based on your history with the recommender.

What if my recommenders are unresponsive to my invitation?
People are busy, so two reminders are acceptable. Give them appropriate time to complete the form and a deadline. Reinforce why the executive MBA is important to you and the admissions committee reviews recommendations closely. If your recommender still doesn’t take action after two reminders, it’s best to consider an alternative individual.

When should I send the letter of recommendation forms?
First, be sure to ask your recommenders. Then, you’ll want to send the forms ASAP so they have the maximum time to complete the forms on your behalf. The recommenders can submit the form before you formally apply to the program.

What if I work for a family-owned or sole proprietor business?
These circumstances vary on a case-by-case basis. Often, it is preferred for non-family representatives to provide a recommendation. In these situations you may want to consider external vendors or clients. If you believe a familial partner would provide a valuable recommendation, please contact our office.