Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 1am

Where Did the Time Go? Addressing MBA Résumé Gaps

Where Did the Time Go? Addressing MBA Résumé Gaps main image

Although it's becoming more common for people who have had a period away from school or work to apply to MBA programs, applicants can have a difficult time addressing these issues effectively during the MBA interview.

Some applicants don't address the gaps in their MBA résumé at all and simply hope for the best. This is not a useful tactic and can make it seem like you are trying to hide something that is much worse than the simple reality of the situation.

Following these tips can help you explain your particular situation clearly and in a manner that will actually enhance, not inhibit, your application package.

1. MBA résumé gaps due to starting a family

Perhaps it was the right time in your life to start or expand your family, or maybe you were unexpectedly blessed with a child. Either way, if you needed to take a break from school or work to care for your child, don't apologize for your decision and be confident in your life choice. Also, let the admissions committee know what has changed in your life. Has your child reached school age? Begun daycare? Let the admissions committee see that you are now ready to focus your time and energy on school during your MBA interview.

2. MBA résumé gaps due to personal or family leave

Despite our best efforts to avoid family leave and protect our health, a sudden illness can derail anyone from academic and career goals. In addition, a close family member might need our help as they deal with a personal health issue. Tell the admissions committee what happened, but also let them know that the family leave is behind you now. If it was a personal illness, clearly state that you have either fully recovered or have received clearance from your medical team to return to school.

3. MBA résumé gaps due to relocating with a spouse

While this can be a difficult issue to address for both genders in the course of an MBA interview, it can be particularly difficult for men who might be apprehensive about potentially facing archaic prejudices regarding this issue in their MBA résumé. Fortunately, this fear is often unfounded as more couples relocate so that one spouse can take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let the admissions committee see that you had a plan for this time of transition by pursuing self-studies, volunteer work or taking supplemental classes.

4. MBA résumé gaps due to leaving or being dismissed from an academic program

Like anything else in life, an academic program may not be all that you hoped for and wanted. Excruciating as the decision might be, sometimes it is best to cut your losses and move on to a program that is better suited to your interests and goals. Be straightforward about what happened and never blame other students, administrators or professors in your MBA résumé. If you were academically dismissed, tell the admissions committee how you have improved your study and time management skills such that you will be successful in their program.

5. MBA résumé gaps due to being dismissed from a job

Few people have good memories about the loss of a job. Although a level of acceptance can be reached over time to move on to other goals in life, there can still be a very high level of emotion attached to that situation. Use a calm and matter-of-fact tone in writing about what happened. Be the "better person" and don't blame others or make excuses. While this can be a difficult thing to do, it reflects a high level of maturity and ability to take responsibility for your life -- regardless of the actions of others.

Most of all, give some credit to and have some faith in your MBA program's admissions committee. These are sophisticated people who understand that sometimes family comes first, that family leave is not totally within our control, and that we must roll with the punches of life. Stay focused on your goals and reasons for pursuing your MBA education during your MBA interview to show the admissions committee how you will make a positive contribution to their program.

Main tag

Ryan Hickey is the managing editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

Tags used in this blog post