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.
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.
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