One mistake applicants often make is to misunderstand their audience. When crafting a winning MBA application package there is much to consider, but how much thought have you given to who will actually read your essays and who is analyzing your resume?
Common sense may dictate that an essay about going to a top MBA program should be crafted for an MBA crowd, but did you know that most essay readers at the top schools never attended an MBA program and don’t have an MBA themselves? Remembering this in the application process can help you communicate your story in a much more effective way to the adcom. Read on for tips…
Most of the clients I have worked with over the years put too much jargon into their essays and resumes.
Perhaps in an attempt to impress what they perceive as a tough, world class b-school administration, they drop fancy words, sneak in industry clichés, and pontificate platitudes. Un-tangling this mess of words can be cumbersome, but when clients are coached to put themselves in the shoes of the adcom, it becomes much easier to find the right path. The first thing to understand, however, is how adcoms are constructed.
Firstly, you must realize the sheer number of applicants to top schools.
With tens of thousands of applicants, there is no practical way for any of these schools to read every package completely, so they often hire seasonal readers to help narrow the pool. While some who make it to the final round of cuts may have their package read by a ranking member of the admissions committee, everyone must hurdle their way through the temporary bank of readers to get there. I’m not implying these are not qualified admissions committee members---it’s actually just the opposite.
Schools carefully select excellent communicators for these reader roles, but rarely do they have an MBA.
Remember you are applying to attend b-school---you are not expected to write like you have already finished. Essay readers are looking for sincerity, honesty and insight into who you truly are—they are not impressed by trite business scenarios or over-inflated resume language. While it would be unnecessary to “dumb something down,” your communication style should err on the side of how you might relate your story to a layperson, who by definition is a person without specialized knowledge of a particular industry or area. Even if your reader has an MBA, they may not have much information about your specific work arena.
This approach is particularly important when writing your resume.
Don’t you dare submit the same resume you would post for a job opening. For hiring companies (who by the way, are obviously experts in their industry), they are indeed looking for evidence of deep understanding and detailed insight. MBA application readers are just the opposite—they will likely not know the first thing about what you have done or what would be important or impressive to your boss—nor do they care. What they are looking for are skills which are transferable to the classroom, demonstrate teamwork savviness, and indicate leadership potential.
We can help you work through the temptation to over-flourish your essays and resume. It just might be the thing to get your application through those initial hoops.