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The MBA Application: Know Your Audience

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As Round 1 deadlines approach, applicants are coming to understand that applying to business school is an incredibly demanding process. In addition to taking the GMAT, assembling academic transcripts and providing recommendation letters, candidates are required to draft multiple essays, job descriptions, lists of activities and more.

With the obvious incentive to save time wherever possible, it’s understandable that many applicants simply cut and paste content from an existing resume and write about their work in the manner that comes most naturally. However, in doing so, countless candidates each year assemble their materials without ever asking a fundamental question.

Who will read my MBA application?

While the answer to this question may vary from school to school, one thing is certain: It is unlikely that the person reading your MBA application will have an intimate level of familiarity with your specific industry or job function. This being the case, if you use industry-specific jargon or assume prior knowledge of your field on the part of the admissions officer, you will undoubtedly lose your reader.

It’s also important to keep the big picture in mind; many applicants become so mired in the details of their own work and role that they fail to provide sufficient context for an outsider to understand the impact of one’s efforts to the department or organization as a whole. Write about your experiences in a way that the average person will understand. While this is easier said than done, it underlines the importance of sharing your materials with an unbiased adviser (ideally not a work colleague or family member) to make sure that you aren’t off-base with some of your assumptions.

For some extra resources on how to perfect your application, read up on our Essay Topic Analyses for each school, read our interviews with members admissions committees, and visit the Clear Admit shop for our informative Clear Admit School Guides. The School Guides offer in-depth, side-by-side comparisons of your target schools and their peer programs. Our Clear Admit Strategy Guides and Interview Guides provide added insight into all aspects of the admissions process.

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