If you work in a flat organization, how do you demonstrate advancement and growth? After all, your career progress will be compared to that of other candidates who have regular promotions with clearly delineated expanded responsibilities. In a flat organization, you may hold the same, possibly vague or even unimpressive, title for years, even though your expertise and impact grow.
In this case, the burden is on you to clarify the situation in your MBA application . Here are some ways to do so:
- In your MBA resume bullet points, when you summarize accomplishments/experiences, order them consecutively (starting with most recent) and put dates in parentheses before or after the point. This way, if you have four years with a particular title, you can show progress within that time. Also use details to highlight growth. If the dollar scope of your projects increases over time, quantify it. Similarly, if you led three-member teams initially and now lead ten-member cross-functional teams, specify that growth. If you started doing something new, describe it in a bullet point with the date, e.g., “In 2008, began managing relationships with clients up >$500K.” The key is to look at your experiences and accomplishments and ask, “How can I portray them to reveal my professional growth?”
- There will be even more opportunities in your essays to show your growth within a flat organization. Look for a place early on in the set of essays to add a sentence explicitly describing the situation, along the lines of, “My employer, ABC Corp., is a flat organization, with no management ladder between associate and senior management. Nevertheless, in my three years as TITLE, I have gone from ABC to XYZ.” Provide examples, ideally oneS that demonstrate your progress relative to accomplished colleagues, e.g., “I am the only one among my 10 peers to work directly on-site with our overseas clients and to accompany senior managers on sales visits to China.”
- Ask your recommenders to address this issue directly, and explain to them why (don’t just assume they’ll understand why it matters).
- In the application form you will have to fill in information about your roles and positions. Apply the same principles noted above to these sections, to the extent possible.
I have one final suggestion. Don’t assume a subtle read. Make the point more than once, in different ways, to make sure it gets across.
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