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Almost every business school requests at least two recommendations. Ask people who know you and your abilities well. People who have supervised you directly, or colleagues with whom you have worked closely, are often in an excellent position to complete recommendations. If you did outstanding work for a professor whom you know well, he/she may also be a good source. Generally, business schools are looking for recommendations from people who can describe your abilities in a job situation, and can support their comments with specific examples.

Ask people only if you are reasonably certain they are willing to provide strongly favorable recommendations. When asking, be sure to allow them several weeks, but stipulate a firm deadline. Check to see if the recommendations must be completed on a special form, or if attaching a letter of recommendation will suffice. Find out if the recommendations should be returned to you for inclusion with the application or mailed directly to the school. Be sure to waive your right to see the recommendations; business schools prefer to see "blind" recommendations because they feel that blind recommendations can offer a more honest assessment of a person's abilities.

Provide the recommendation writers with some background materials, such as a resume and application essays. These materials can help the writers tailor the recommendations to complement the rest of your application package. For example, if you discuss in an essay a work project of which you are particularly proud, you will want to be sure your supervisor or colleague includes a reference to that project in a recommendation. This background material, including your reasons for applying and your career goals, helps recommendation writers focus on your specific strengths, accomplishments, and interests. Managers are pressed for time to complete recommendations along with their regular workload, and would welcome your help.

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