Admissions Tip: Addressing Unemployment or Gaps in Employment

by Clear Admit, Jul 17, 2011

Given the emphasis that schools place on a candidates work experience, it is important to be proactive in addressing gaps in employment. When applying to business school, many candidates worry about how the adcom might perceive gaps in employment. We would like to take some time to discuss strategies for addressing this issue.

Its not unheard of for an MBA candidate to have a gap in employment, and this will not necessarily impact someones candidacy in a negative way. Gaps might be due to anything from lay-offs to periods of travel. As a rule-of-thumb, applicants should explain gaps in employment that are three months or longer in an optional essay or, if instructed, on their data forms. The adcom will not want to play detective with vague dates on an applicants resume or large chunks of unaccounted for time. As the adcom will simply want to know what an applicant was doing during a period of unemployment, applicants should show that they made productive use of this time. It is important for applicants to be open and clear about extended gaps to show that they were not simply spending the time looking for full-time employment.

Addressing current unemployment in applications, however, requires a different strategy than simply discussing past gaps in employment history. Candidates applying to business school who are not currently employed are in a trickier situation, as business schools view themselves as career accelerators rather than career jump-starters. The task is not impossible, though, and given the current state of the economy, more candidates are applying to business school during a period of unemployment. As with addressing gaps in employment, these applicants should not evade discussions centering on this issue. On the other hand, they should not present unemployment as the reason for applying to business school nor should they suggest that they arent presently looking for work due to the need to devote time to their MBA applications (a major red flag).

In addressing unemployment, applicants should show that they are doing their best to find something temporary or engaging in volunteer work. Ideally, applicants would show that they are doing something in line with their stated professional goals, like attending conferences or working to secure an internship in a field they want to explore. Whatever the case, applicants should be honest and appear proactive.

As every applicant is unique, we encourage our readers to contact Clear Admit directly if they need guidance on tackling a gap in employment or current unemployment situation. Send us your resume and sign up for a free one-on-one session with one of our counselors.