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How to address a lateral Career Move

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Manager
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Joined: 08 Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Sustainability
WE: Supply Chain Management (Hospitality and Tourism)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 8 [0], given: 3

How to address a lateral Career Move [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2013, 06:28
Hey EssaySnark!

I recently signed up for your Blahg and purchased the Columbia MBA application quide, its all great info. I'm hoping to refine my essays enough to submit a polished form for review, but am currently working on how address a lateral career move. I am working on Columbia ED right now and is the main focus of this question.

Quick background:
27 White Male
GMAT: 730 (Q49, V41)
Top 50 undergrad business school: Double major - Supply Chain and Finance; Minor - Econ
GPA 3.58

Post MBA goal - generalist strategy consultant for major firm

After two years of logistics at a small manufacturer, I landed a procurement analyst gig at a large oil and gas services company. The problem I ran into was the companies culture was heavily biased toward engineering and I felt my opportunities for growth were limited. After 1.5 years I left for a more interesting role with a fortune 100 company that doesn't have the engineering bias, but in a less "prestigious" industry. I have since been promoted and have gained extremely valuable experience (leadership, problem solving and driving change) that i will cover in my essays. Even with my growth after the move, I am concerned about the appearance of the lateral move from O&G down to a lower tier industry (less profitable / lower average pay).

My questions boils down to:
1) Does this even raise a red flag?
2) Even if it is a red flag, do I address it at all? Or hope my recent success speaks for it self (I am spending about 150-200 words in essay 1 to highlight the success at my current role and specific examples of it)
3) Do I leverage it as a strategic decision that I made to get me further ahead (which it truly was)
4) Does this belong in the optional essay at all?

I don't want it interpreted as me bailing out in a tough situation, but rather as a strategic career move.

Thanks for your input!

Edited to add age and ethnicity
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Re: How to address a lateral Career Move [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2013, 07:19
Hey gddunton - thanks for being a member of the blahg, and for the great question!! We'd be happy to dig into it but before we do, would you be willing to share your resume? You can send it to us via PM - we'll keep it in strictest confidence, but it wouldn't hurt to get a sense for literally what you're talking about.

The reason we ask for that is, on first blush, our reaction is that you're wildly overthinking things. :-D

But we wanna see the resume to know for sure.

Also what schools are we talking about? It's not that your strategy should be different based on your targets, but the different schools look for/care about different things.

Looking forward to hearing back!

EssaySnark
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Manager
Manager
avatar
Joined: 08 Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Sustainability
WE: Supply Chain Management (Hospitality and Tourism)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 8 [0], given: 3

Re: How to address a lateral Career Move [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2013, 13:12
Thanks for the response!

My Resume has been PM'd.

My target schools are Columbia (ED), NYU, Rice and University of Texas. Possibly Kellogg, and MIT but focus is on Columbia ED at the moment.

I am married which makes some of the other schools (Duke, UNC, UVA) less desirable because the locations for her job.

Thanks again!
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Re: How to address a lateral Career Move [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2013, 08:52
Hey gddunton - OK so here's the deal: That resume needs to be redone. The biggest issue is your very non-standard two-column format with Experience and Education both at the top. This is very (!!!) difficult to scan and absorb; you're hurting yourself by using a presentation that's so far from the norm.

In addition, the content needs a lot of help. Apologies in advance for such a blatant upsell but you really need the Reworking Your Resume App Accelerator. You've got functional descriptions of your work rather than statements of contribution; you don't have your college internship called out separately; you've got a gazillion acronyms and jargon and such... that's just what we see in 2 seconds. This is not presenting your strengths and skills for bschool in the best way possible and in fact the current format makes it hard to even see what your career and educational history truly is.

But back to your questions: Basically, you're overthinking it - and you may be assuming that the adcom a) knows more about your industry than they do; and b) cares. Both of those companies are decent-sized and the schools may be familiar with them, but even if they aren't, a company's 'prestige' doesn't matter - nor does perceived prestige of one versus another play any part in an adcom's impressions of you. At least, not in this particular case. If someone had gone from a career at McKinsey to taking a job as a barista at Starbucks, well then yes, you'd want to explain that - not that there's anything to be ashamed about if you work as a barista! But that type of transition in jobs would warrant some discussion. In your case, it's unlikely if the adcom is even going to realize that there's any difference between these two companies - they're not firms that the schools are likely to have on their radar too often. That's neither good nor bad. As you phrased the question to us, this is a lateral move and that alone won't raise any questions. The schools would appreciate getting a little insight into why you took the job but nobody would question the transition in and of itself.

Bottom line: The one-sentence explanation that you included in your PM to us, within the quotation marks, would be absolutely appropriate, and all that you need. You definitely would never want to write an optional essay in a case like this.

So that's the discussion of this issue from the position of "is it a weakness?"

To your question #3 in the list above (in your original post to us), this potentially could be a topic that's essay-worthy for particular schools... it really depends on what the school is and the entirety of your thinking around why you made the career move, what the ramifications have been, evaluation of risk, what you've done on the job since, etc etc etc - we're only making this point to show how something like this might work for an essay to position things positively and give insight into the background while answering a question in a multidimensional way. The main essay question we're thinking of in this context for this year's apps would be MIT essay 2. There's others too probably but that one could be a candidate.

Hope that helps - and even if we freaked you out about the resume, at least we took away the other issue, and now you know you don't have to worry about it! :-D

EssaySnark
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Manager
Manager
avatar
Joined: 08 Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Sustainability
WE: Supply Chain Management (Hospitality and Tourism)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 8 [0], given: 3

Re: How to address a lateral Career Move [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2013, 09:19
Thanks for the blunt feed back. I knew my resume wasn't done when I sent it, but definitely thought it was closer than it actually is! At least my mind has been put to rest for the original question.

I will have to give your resume accelerator a look.

Thanks again!
Re: How to address a lateral Career Move   [#permalink] 26 Aug 2013, 09:19
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