For prospective graduate applicants from Pakistan who have professional working experience, a letter of recommendation from your employer is extremely crucial. It allows the graduate admissions committee to get tips about you from someone who has directly worked with you in a professional setting for at least 4-6 months.
I always emphasize on how important it is for your referees to illustrate your strengths by giving specific examples and stories about you – rather than just listing them. By giving examples, your recommenders can tell the admissions committee about how you have solved a professional problem rather than just saying that you are a “hard worker”.
Before you go on to read the sample letter of recommendation written for a Pakistani graduate applicant from his manager, I wanted to discuss a couple of common misconceptions when it comes to professional recommendations.
Title of your referee does not matter
Many applicants from Pakistan are under the misconception that a reference letter from the CEO or someone at a higher job title is more important than from someone who has the directly supervised them over a period of time. There is no harm in getting a letter from someone who is highly ranked or regarded; it’s just that it only makes sense if you have directly worked with them. If you haven’t at all then getting a general reference will not help at all.
Commenting on your weaknesses
Everybody has weaknesses and we all know that. However applicants tend to persuade their referees not to quote on their shortcomings, which is not a good idea. If you have a certain weakness that your referee thinks can limit your functionality, then it must be mentioned along with what you are doing to eradicate it. It simply tells the admissions committee that you are human and are liable to err – but at the same time gives a positive impression about you that you are making an effort to improve on it.
The following letter of recommendation from a Pakistani employer follows these tips to perfection and is a great example of how a professional reference letter should be. The applicant who got this reference was admitted to a graduate program at MIT in Risk Management. Read on.