F1. Who wrote your letters of recommendation and why?

Most MBAs chose their current direct manager. Often the school will ask for it, and often this person knows the MBA's work best. Sometimes, circumstances prevent an MBA from choosing their current direct manager, so they will chose a former direct manager.

There is significant debate about whether non-professional references are a good idea. That said, a number of people used mentors, professors, friends, or community service managers/peers.

There is a vocal minority that chose recommenders based on title. They had problems getting this senior person's attention, but felt it was worth it.

There's a fairly wide diversity of types of recommenders. Many MBAs mentioned that they tried to bring in differing and diverse perspectives of themselves through their choice of recommenders.

Chose people who knew me well rather than people who had impressive titles

Gaurav Bhattacharyya

Didn't go for senior execs or alums; picked people who knew me well

Saritha Peruri

Pick people who think the world of you and are eloquent

Seth Familian

Chose managers who had seen both my successes and distresses; did not choose the CEO

Kasey Miller

Don't try to go too senior - they are just too busy

Chose people who had impressive titles

Dan Gagne

Party line from MBA admissions is choose people who know you well; I would choose VPs

Jay Wong

The founder and CEO hired me into the firm, knew me well, and taught at Wharton

Harpreet Marwaha

Chose my direct manager and a high-level executive; used them to show a portfolio of who you are

Peer; Friend; Direct Report

Tom Rose

Choose one professional recommender and one other; direct supervisor + business partner/friend

Murali Krishnan

Had direct report write some recommendations; consider carefully about senior execs

Daniel Siegman

Had a very experienced peer who was an MBA grad and knew me better than anyone else

Sharon Liszanckie

Chose a principal, department head, and co-teacher

Recommenders who will put in the time

Jason Mitchell

Choose carefully - don't pick someone who writes them last minute without much effort

Anjali Saraf

Ask each recommender: can you write me a strong recommendation? Do you have the time?

John Wilson

Only choose people who are going to put in the time and write a good recommendation

Spread the pain among many people

Jeff Haxer

Was conscious about asking one person to do too much; spread around the pain

Jonathan Achenbach

Tried to not burden any one person; also give a diverse perspective from multiple people

Kahn Jekarl

COUNTERPOINT: Even though it's a burden, just ask 2-3 people

General advice

Joel Conkling

Wait to apply until you can ask your current employer to write a recommendation

Jay Palace

The CEO of one of my clients offered to write a letter

Ken Blewett

MBA admissions can at least relate to academics, if not the military lifestyle

Jon Kornik

For each school, got recommenders from both previous jobs and from different perspectives