How a Job Change Can Affect Your Business School Admissions Chances

Recently we were asked, “I’m thinking of looking for a new job right now. Since I plan on applying to business school this fall, would it be a bad idea to consider changing jobs now?”

The actual act of changing jobs, by itself, shouldn’t help or hurt you in the admissions process. But, as it almost always seems to be, the answer is “It depends.” Admissions officers understand that young professionals may have several jobs before they enter business school, and as long as your reasons appear to be good and your overall application “story” makes sense, this won’t be a hindrance.

If you take a new job, ideally it will be to take on a new role with increased responsibility and more pay. (Why does pay matter? Because it’s the most objective measure of how much more responsibility you took on. A new job might have a fancier title, but if the pay is the same, it may appear that this is a promotion in name only.) Or, if it’s a different industry or function, then ideally your new job is more consistent with your stated pot-MBA goals. Or, if it’s a different industry or function, then ideally your new job is more consistent with your stated pot-MBA goals. For instance, maybe now you work in banking, but you want to ultimately start an NGO after business school, and right now you’re considering moving into a new role in a non-profit organization. Either of these switches would make perfect sense to an MBA admissions officer.

Where a job switch can look bad is if you appear as a “job hopper,” someone who’s never happy in the role she’s in, and who just starts looking for a new job as soon as things start to get tough in her current role. If you’re just bored or don’t like your boss, or have some other fairly pedestrian reason for wanting a new job, then the switch won’t help you, and could even hurt you, if it gives the impression of someone who’s making the change to get away from a bad situation, rather than moving towards a real opportunity.

Along these same lines, we get a lot of questions from applicants who ask, “I have the chance to take a new job with [Blue Chip Firm]…. The job and the pay are the same, but the name of the company is better. Should I take it?” In this case, we normally tell applicants that — all things being equal — they can probably help their admissions chances more by achieving more in their current role than by landing at a fancier company, where it will probably take a while to build their connections and really start to make an impact. If you’re still a year or two away from applying, then trying to build your track record at the bigger-name firm may make sense, but if you’re less than a year away from applying, then you have a better chance of making a bigger positive impact in your current job, and that (Impact!) is what admissions officers care about, more than the name of the company you’re coming from.

If you’re just starting to plan your MBA candidacy, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter for more advice on the business school application process!

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One response to “How a Job Change Can Affect Your Business School Admissions Chances

  1. milford1984

    Thanks for the post. It definitely sheds some light into an area of uncertainty for MBA applicants.

    I am currently in a similar situation and am unsure as to whether or not I should inform the admissions board.

    I am currently on waitlist at one of the top European MBA programs, and have been for two or three months now.

    When applying, I was in banking in Continental Europe and my stimuli for application to an MBA was mainly to shift my career focus to private equity. My essays emphasised this desire for a career shift combined with a geographical relocation to the city the school is located in.

    In parallel to my MBA applications I had a few interviews going on and shortly after I was waitlisted at this program, I received a job offer for a new venture kind of in between banking and private equity in the city where the B-school is located.

    I have only been in the role for 3 or 4 months now and was wondering if I should inform the school of this change as it is a more entrepreneurial, dynamic and challenging role than my previous one, but again, I have only been in it for 3 or 4 months and am not sure if this would positively affect the waitlist status.

    Thank you.

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