Are you an applicant who is applying with a finance background? If so, below are four things to watch out for as you craft your business school applications. These are common mistakes that I see from finance applicants.
Using industry jargon
The most common mistake I see from finance applicants is using industry jargon (e.g., terms such IRR, DCF, and ROI). This is true both in the resume as well as the other parts of the application, such as the essays and data forms. Regardless of whatever field you are in, it's important to explain everything in "layman's language." Given the volume of applications that are received, Admissions Committee members spend 15-20 minutes per application during the initial review. If they are struggling to understand what you are saying, they are likely to not delve any further. The onus is on you to make everything easy to understand.
Not highlighting impact and results in the resume
There is a tendency for finance applicants to just list their responsibilities and tasks for each professional role without pointing to the impact and results from the different projects/deals they have worked on. Remember that business schools are seeking candidates who are impact-oriented; therefore, it is important that this comes through in the resume.
Not focusing on the quant score on the GMAT/GRE
Because finance applicants are working heavily with numbers, there is often the assumption that a weaker quant score on the GMAT/GRE won't negatively influence their applications (since quantitative analyses is being conducted in their day-to-day professional roles). However, that is not the case; Admissions Committee members actually expect higher quant scores given a finance applicant's vocation. Because the finance demographic is a tough one, it is very important to aim for at least an 80th percentile on the quant section of the GMAT/GRE to meet the threshold that the top-tier MBA programs are looking for. In the case of a weak quant score, efforts should be made to demonstrate analytical strength in other parts of the application.
Not engaging in extracurricular activities
Because of the often long hours spent in the office, clients with finance backgrounds often tell me that they don't have time to engage in extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, the reality is that their competition is finding time for extracurricular activities despite working long hours as well. Therefore, to be competitive for the top-tier programs, make sure to be involved in meaningful and impactful activities.
You've accomplished a lot thus far in your life and career! These tips will help to make sure that comes through. By being mindful of these things as a finance applicant, you will be able to put together the strongest applications possible.
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