When an MBA application is not perfect



Admission consultant Stacy Blackman has some advice on what to do if an employment history is less than perfect. Turn it into your own advantage, is the expert’s advice in one of her regular blogs on the application process to business school.

Business school applications can be daunting and many prospective students worry that gaps or perceived weaknesses in an employment history may weaken their chances of admission. But as admission expert Stacy Blackman writes in one of her regular blogs for U.S. News: “In most instances, no single element of your application will make or break your odds of acceptance.”

Blackman has three tips on how to address aspects that might affect chances of admission and how to mitigate resume concerns.

1. Problem: No upward movement

Blackman’s advice in her U.S. News-blog:

“Even if you've had the same position and the title hasn't changed, you can tweak your MBA resume to show that your abilities and tasks have expanded over time. Consider breaking a long-term role into segments and highlight a different set of accomplishments for each time period.”

  • Show you work well on a team
  • Highlight concrete professional growth, achievements and new challenges
  • Explain how you took learning opportunities

2. Problem: Lots of career changes

Blackman’s advice:

“You'll need to be up front about the reasons why you have had so many different jobs. Did extenuating circumstances cause you to move around a lot? Were you ever laid off? Were you exploring different industries to find your perfect fit? Whatever the case, you should back up the seemingly disparate roles with a narrative in the essay that explains the reasons behind your transitions.”

3. Problem: Demotions or negative performance reviews

Blackman’s advice:

“While such experiences scare MBA hopefuls the most, these situations actually represent a gold mine for the application essay questions related to lessons learned, challenges and failures. After briefly explaining what happened, turn your focus to the positive aspects. What are you doing better now? What do you know you still need to work on? How will you continue to improve on those flaws while in business school? Highlight resilience, constant learning and growth in your essays; the application evaluators will appreciate your maturity and self-awareness.”



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