Additional (and final) tips in choosing recommenders:
– A recommendation from a family firm is usually not recommended if it is written by a family member. However, if it is written by someone senior in a big firm, who is not a family member, even though the firm is owned by the family, it may be ok. Some European schools (e.g. IESE) don’t mind getting recommendations from family firms, even written by family members.
– A recommendation from a client is usually not recommended unless it is a very impressive client (big name firm). However, recommendations from clients can serve as a way out for people who have only worked in family firms and don’t have other potential recommenders to choose from.
– If possible, it is better to select recommendations that provide different angles on the candidate.
If two recommendations describe pretty much the same type of activity (e.g. rec. 1 – programmer in company A, rec. 2 – programmer in company B), one of these recommendations should probably be replaced.
– Recommenders who are alumni of the same school that the recommendation is submitted to are more effective than non-alumni recommenders (not critical, but helpful).
– Recommendations from very big shots (e.g. government ministers, famous people) are great if the context is of mutual activity (preferably direct/indirect supervisor) and the content reflects acquaintance and excitement. If not, they don’t necessarily help and may even hurt.
– Pay special attention to the “recommendations instructions” section that each school provides (instructions to the candidate – which recommenders to choose etc., and instructions to the recommender). Their specific requirements must be met.