I have over 10 years of work experience but no promotion to management. How does that affect my application?
You may be familiar with this optical illusion:
One of the lines looks bigger than the other because of the other lines/arrows around it. But really, both lines are the same size.
Why do we bring this up? No, we’re not trying to mess with your sense of perception. We’re sure you feel dizzy enough from trying to keep up with all your apps. So we’ll stop being coy and just give it to you straight.
Your experience matters in relation to the experience of your PEERS.
Basically, whether or not your lack of promotion will affect your app depends on how this looks in comparison with your peers both in your specific company and in your specific industry. If everyone else around you is getting promoted and you’re not, it won’t look good. But if no one gets management after ten years, then it’s fine.
That being said, even if you don’t have a promotion in your profile, you CAN make yourself stand out in a few other ways. And by “can” we mean “must.”
It may happen that you DO have leadership experience even without a promotion.
- Head a specific project at work that turned out to be super successful? Play it up in your app.
- Got any international experience? Make sure to highlight that, too. That’ll do double duty.
And your stuff outside of work will always be helpful.
- Lead a reading group for at-risk youth on the weekends? Write about it.
- Coordinated a food drive to benefit the victims of a tsunami? Write about it.
That stuff shows your leadership skills, too. It shows your passions/interests out of work (which lends itself to what you can contribute to the COMMUNITY at B-school…also important), and is something ELSE to write about in terms of leadership experience.
But, remember, extracurricular stuff will never be better than what’s happening AT work. This is BUSINESS school, after all. So if you can, create opportunities for leadership at your job. Come up with a project idea, pitch it, and DO IT.
That way you won’t have to highlight years of work experience over management—because you’ll have both. And that’s a winning combo right there.
–Jon Frank, Admissionado Founder