How Quitting Your Job Can Kill Your MBA Application

by on August 11th, 2017

When you’re applying to business school, it’s natural to want to dedicate your energy to your applications. After all, b-school applications can feel like a full-time job!

So the temptation is to quit your job and dive into researching schools, studying for the GMAT, and writing your application essays.

I talk about this all the time with people. For example, I had one client who was going to quit their job in September to concentrate on studying for the GMAT. They then planned on taking the GMAT in October and finding a new job within two months.

It sounds like a logical plan, but this approach is actually very dangerous! It relies on assumptions that could end up derailing your application.

First, what if the GMAT doesn’t work out the way you want? Will you extend your time unemployed to take it again? If you don’t, now you have a less than desirable GMAT score and a sketchy work history—and if you do, you’re doubling down on being unemployed.

Second, and maybe even more serious, is that even if you do well on the GMAT, it’s easy to underestimate how long it’ll take to get a new job. And since you’re applying to business school, the stakes are very high.

For adcoms, being unemployed is a red flag—even if you’re unemployed because you wanted to study for the GMAT. After all, your work is a core part of who you are as an applicant.

Given the choice between an applicant who’s employed and one who’s not, adcoms will always choose the person with the job. It’s not even close. And they are not understanding of your need to take time off to study for the exam. After all many of the applicants you are being compared to were able to study, take the GMAT, and earn a high score.

Another way to think of it is that schools are looking for candidates who will excel after graduating. And they know a checkered work history could come back to haunt you when you go back on the job market. And your not landing a job will become a problem that would hurt their employment statistics.

The bottom line, then, is that if you’re applying to business school, make sure you’re applying while you have a job.

If that means finding other ways to make time for your application, like taking a leave from work for a couple weeks to study for the GMAT, that’s fine. Just make sure you apply as someone who’s employed. Some applicants have been able to take longer time off depending on their employer.

Business schools are looking for students who are running toward something, not ones who are running away from something.

Having a job that you thrive in indicates that you’re applying to business school because you’re reaching for a positive future. Applying while you’re unemployed, on the other hand, suggests that you could be going to b-school to escape a negative situation.

Of course, what you do once you have an offer of admission in hand is up to you. But to get that offer in the first place, make sure you prioritize having a job when you apply!

For personalized advice on your strategy for applying to business school, or for an assessment of what schools are your best fits, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

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