Keeping Your MBA Plans A Secret At Work?

Every year we have clients who do not feel comfortable telling their employers about their MBA plans. Regardless of what your reason behind this hesitation may be, handling the LOR process can be quite the wrestle if your boss is not as supportive as you might like. Questions thus arise, the most pressing one being-

Should you:

(1) keep your B school goal a secret so it does not affect your job, forcing you to ask someone outside of your company to write a recommendation?

What else you can do inside qs leap ?

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(2) tell a few choice people at the office because you want them to write your recommendations, and then hope they do not tell others?

The right answer depends on how long you have been at your current job, what other options you have outside of work, and who else could write your recommendations within the company. Although admissions committees like recommendations from current managers, they understand that not everyone is comfortable asking their current boss for a recommendation. While it will not work against you to ask someone else, know that if you do not have someone who can elaborate on your current successes, your application may be weakened. This is even more pronounced if you have only had one full-time job after graduating and do not have anyone else who can write directly about your performance at work. In this case, I would consider your other relationships within the firm. Perhaps there is an indirect supervisor or a more senior manager who might be more supportive? Perhaps your boss might be more open to the idea than you initially thought? Spend some time testing the waters with others at the firm to get some additional insight on potential options.

If you are unsure of whom to ask because you do not know how your boss would react, then tread carefully and make sure that time is on your side. You may want to have an initial conversation to explore “your development” and see where the conversation takes you. I have had clients who assumed their bosses would not be supportive only to have them actually suggest an MBA during these “development” discussions. That said, be sure to understand the politics internally so that you protect yourself and your career while doing so.

Finally, when thinking about whom to ask, think about who will write the best things about you and the best letter. If your former boss loved you and would put you in the top 1-2% while your current boss would rank you high, but perhaps not best in class, it may make sense to go with the older boss even though he has older content to write about. The choice of recommenders is an important one, so make sure to spend enough time thinking about whom to ask. Check-out Personal MBA Coach’s blog on this topic for more information on selecting the appropriate recommenders.

Keep in mind, if you cannot ask someone you work with, then you can write a brief optional essay about why you chose not to get a recommendation from your current employer.


This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.

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