Because you spend so many of your waking hours at work and because the MBA is the vehicle you are choosing to use to drive your career forward, you may naturally believe that your professional experiences are all that matter to the admissions committees. Don’t get us wrong: you need to have (and share) strong professional stories, but top-tier business schools are looking for much more than just examples of professional excellence. If you discuss only your work experiences in your application, you will present yourself as a one-dimensional character, and today’s managers need to demonstrate that they can handle a multitude of tasks, situations and personalities—both inside and outside the workplace.
At the end of the year, we at mbaMission post an offer on our blog to review 20 applications, submitted by candidates who did not use our services and who did not receive an offer of admission from a single program of their choice. We find that the most common error committed by these applicants is that they discussed only their work accomplishments and gave no sense of who they truly are as well-rounded human beings. Although professional accomplishments definitely have a place in your applications, do not go overboard and focus on this one aspect of your candidacy to the exclusion of all else—balance is crucial. To the best of your ability, strive to offer a mix of accomplishments from the professional, community and personal fields. Your goal is to keep the reader learning about you with each essay. A diversity of stories will reveal that you have the skills to accomplish a great deal in many different fields and circumstances, which is the hallmark of a modern general manager.