Weak References: Should I change jobs to make my application more competitive?
Should I switch from my less reputable firm, where I will get poor/average recommendations, to a more selective consulting firm or a healthcare and strategy-related role at a company?
Reader Background: By more selective firm, I mean going to the healthcare practice of a larger consulting firm (~Deloitte, IMS Consulting)? I have only been working at my firm for a year… If I switch after 1.5 years at my firm, will that raise flags – even if new job is a title promotion at a more reputable company?…If I transition jobs soon, then I will have to stay at my other company for 1.5 to 2 years before applying. I will be 27-28 when applying then.
Regarding your recommendations – you said you “had a rough start,” but have you actually turned a corner and shown solid improvement? If you end up sticking with the company up until you apply, are you of the mind that there’s no chance that your supervisor will write you a positive recommendation? Sure, s/he might say that you struggled at first, but I can also imagine a scenario where s/he says that you responded to constructive criticism, learned from your mistakes, showed significant improvement, are now great performer, etc. That has a lot of potential to be a good recommendation letter.
I won’t exactly argue against moving to a new company as I don’t see that as being a red flag, especially if it’s more of a known quantity among adcoms accompanied by a promotion, but I always say it’s possible to do exceptional things in rather ordinary environments. That can apply to your situation, too. (BTW, if you apply for a new job and they ask for references, couldn’t that potentially be a problem for you?)
From a timing perspective, my general rule of thumb is that candidates are usually most competitive at 4-6 years since that’s often how long it can take so accumulate experiences that show significant impact/accomplishment, have some leadership roles, etc. Stay or go, I recommend you keep that timing in mind.
[Check Out How To Solve The MBA Recommendation Letter Sham]
Waitlisted: What can I do to improve my chances?
I was recently waitlisted at Ross, and am a little uncertain about how to navigate its waitlist policy. From what I’ve been able to gather, the waitlist at Ross generally consists of two categories: (1) applicants they like but need to determine whether they have enough space to admit, and (2) applicants whose profiles give them pause for one reason or another – e.g., low Q score on GMAT, etc…Any other general suggestions on waitlist strategy?
Thanks for your post . . . you’re pretty much on the spot about the two categories…Being waitlisted is ultimately a good indicator about the strength of your application (or you would’ve been rejected outright)… However, there really isn’t any way to get more detail directly from the adcom about why you landed on the wait list, and I strongly recommend that you follow the adcom’s directions and don’t reach out to them for guidance. Doing so will make them think that you can’t follow directions, are showing poor judgement, etc., and that’s obviously not going to help your cause!
Without having more details about you and your application, the best advice I can give is for you to take a critical eye at your application materials and be honest with yourself about where the soft spots are in your profile. Then do something about them…
Below average academics (like low quant on GMAT)? You should strongly consider retaking the exam and/or point out other evidence of strong quant ability. Even if you retook the GMAT and your score didn’t really improve, it would at least show good judgement on your part and that you are being proactive.
Lack of leadership? Perhaps there have been developments in your work and/or extracurriculars where you’ve taken on additional responsibility.
Superficial engagement with the school and/or didn’t show a deep understanding of what makes it tick? Visit campus, engage with students/alums, etc.
With Ross’ process in particular, even if you don’t have any new developments in your profile, they at least give you the opportunity to talk about how you’ve continued to learn more about Ross and connect with its community. If you can speak to that, it’ll help give them the confidence that you’re still really interested in the program and are more likely to attend if given the opportunity.
[Check out How To Get Off The MBA Waitlist]