Sometimes more is better. Like chocolate, vacation days and itemized tax deductions. But sometimes more is NOT better, like saturated fat, bills and dental work. The key is how you look at it. Admissions officers tend to look at things as if they were holding a Libra Scale, especially when considering work experience on your MBA application. On one side, there’s raw number of years (quantity), on the other is your job description (quality).
Wonderful! You are the CEO of a mid-size corporation. Oh, it’s your first week on the job?…okay, well still that’s an amazing accomplishment and congrats on the promotion, but perhaps you’d still admit that your knowledge and expertise in such a new position wouldn’t be as developed as say someone who has been doing it for a few years, right? Being a CEO is great, but being a GOOD CEO is even better.
Same goes the other way, too. Have you been in the same job for 10 years? Wow! Congrats on keeping your resume neat and tidy and no doubt you are the go-to person for all the ins and outs of that role, but could it mean that perhaps you didn’t take as much initiative or demonstrate leadership qualities required to launch you to the next level?
Or, perhaps you have only had a project management job for a year’s time, but in that time you’ve produced measurable results, saved clients money and heartache, improved processes and efficiency, demonstrated leadership, took on more responsibility outside your pay-grade and excelled throughout. That circumstance would make it easy for us to say to heck with quantity, quality is what counts here.
The other side of the Libra Scale is quality of work experience. A Chief Operating Officer title sounds pretty impressive, but were you a COO of a cat fashion show? Not to say that being a COO of a cat fashion show isn’t a real job (in fact that sounds pretty cool), but an impressive title with naught to back it up won’t move the needle in your favor when it comes to work experience.
On the flip side, something as ordinary as an “Account Manager” title may sound boring to the lay-person, but may actually be pretty exciting. Don’t let us make assumptions. Take every opportunity on your MBA application to illustrate just WHAT about your job made your experience rich and rewarding.
The takeaway on work experience: quality and quantity are not, by themselves, deciding factors.
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