It’s your job to demonstrate to the adcom that you stand out from the applicant pool and are exactly the person they want in their next MBA class. In this series, you’ll learn how to dig deep to unearth your unique character traits, experiences, skills, and talents and bring them to the forefront of your application, so that when the adcom pick up your file, they’re hooked from the very first moment.
Adcoms often like to steer clear of applicants who are “difficult to place.” Like it or not, we live in an ageist business world. Youth is associated with being hip, tech-savvy, innovative, and ambitious. Older candidates may be viewed as out of touch. (Of course, these stereotypes are just that – stereotypes.)
If you are no longer a sprightly 20-something-year-old, you may need to think outside the box a bit to prove that age has nothing to do with your ability to think outside the box. How can you prove to the adcom that you will be just as employable (if not more so) as one of your younger competitors? How can you show them that 35 is the new 25?
1. Be a (wo)man with a plan.
In your MBA goals essay, you’re going to want to describe your post-MBA career path in as clear and detailed a manner as possible. Providing a step-by-step plan will demonstrate that you have realistic and achievable goals AND that you’re the right person to execute them. You may not be a spring chicken anymore, but that just means that you’ve had more time to think seriously about where you are going and how you plan on getting there.
2. Show you’ve got what it takes.
As an older applicant, you should pay extra attention to explaining how your rich and varied experiences increase your desirability. Why would they want a KID with three years of tech experience, when they can have YOU – with eight years under your belt AND a wider network and a more established name within the industry?
You’re in good shape if you can show you will have a job waiting for you when you graduate. Demonstrate that your age has contributed to your enhanced employability and positioned you on the “easy to place” list after all.
3. Demonstrate that one CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
Stress that you are extremely open to obtaining new information and learning new business and management techniques. Often adcoms worry that an older applicant will be too set in his or her ways to change in any way. Yes, you should enter the scene with concrete goals, but you should also express and demonstrate openness to change.
4. Consider an EMBA program.
If you are 35+ and have 10+ years of work experience, then an EMBA program may be a better match for you. Do your research and make sure you’re applying to the right business program based on your age-experience equation.
Finally, stay positive and be confident. If those elements are present throughout the MBA admissions process (that is, in your application and then later in your business school interview), the admissions committees will forget that they ever had concerns about your age.
Read the complete 9 Secrets to Standing Out in Your MBA Application series for more tips on how to create a compelling application that highlights your unique strengths, character traits, and talents.
For personalized advice tailored just for you, check out our MBA admissions consulting and editing services and work one-on-one with a pro who will help you discover your competitive advantage and use it to get ACCEPTED.
• Why MBA, a free guide
• Different Dimensions of Diversity, a podcast episode
• Too Old for an MBA? Check Out 3 Outstanding MBA and EMBA Alternatives, a podcast episode