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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

September 25, 2008

HBS Director Leopold on applicants from the financial sector and being unemployed

Dee Leopold, Director of HBS Admissions, posted the following as part of a Q&A:

Q: If there is an increase in the number of applicants from financial services, will the number of admits from this group be greater than in prior years?
A: Not necessarily. Our goal is to compose a class which represents many different kinds of diversity, of which professional experience is only one element. We don't have fixed industry or geographical targets so the year-to-year class profile may change.

Q: Are candidates who are not currently employed at a disadvantage?
A: No. We realize that these are unusual times and that many strong contributors may find themselves in this situation.

In a word, if you are recently unemployed, HBS will not hold that against you, but don't expect it will be easier to get in if you are coming from the financial industry. Nothing really surprising here, but good to know nonetheless.

I think it is safe to assume that Ms. Leopold's comments apply more generally to other schools as they reflect standard admissions practices.

By the way if you are coming from a country (Japan, where I live, being the best example) whose financial industry has not been significantly damaged or may actually stand to benefit, make sure you point that out to admissions (HBS or any school). You don't have to provide them with a full economic analysis, but a brief reminder of local conditions in your essay can't hurt.

And if you are unemployed, stay positive and don't be apologetic about it in your application. No one likes a cry baby, but people respect those who can make the best of such situations. As someone who experienced the Internet Boom while living in New York City (I had the title of death, Senior Manager for Online Sales and Marketing, and my wife worked for a start-up with no business plan), I know that from my own experience. Focus on the future and enjoy New York State's Unemployment Benefits and "The Inflation Special" at Gray's Papaya. For those of you still working in New York City, I bet it is now much easier to get dinner reservations.

Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
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