Recently, we discussed observing limits with your resume. This time, we take a similar approach with your essays—in particular, your goals essay. Some business schools ask applicants to discuss their career progress first in a classic goals essay:
Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA.
Whereas other schools do not request any professional context:
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will our school help you achieve these goals?
Applicants tend to seize on these broad, open-ended questions as opportunities to discuss their entire career history in depth, offering far more than mere context for their goals. In response to a question like the first one here, some candidates will mistakenly use 75% or more of the word space provided just discussing their career progression to date. Although this may seem “brief” to you, the truth is that focusing so extensively on your past minimizes your opportunity to discuss other crucial aspects of your candidacy.
If you devote too much of your essay to detailing your past career progress, you will be unable to thoroughly address your reasons for wanting an MBA and your interest in the school. Providing context for your goals by giving an overview of your professional life to date is unquestionably important, but you must be sure to balance the different sections of your essay. Clearly conveying your goals and your reasons for choosing a particular school is crucial so that you connect with your target, rather than miss it entirely.