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Gaining Admission After Being Laid Off

Getting a pink slip shouldn’t derail your admission plans. In fact, it can serve as a catalyst for moving forward with the application you may have been putting off for so long.

There are some practical things you can do immediately to mitigate any negative impact a pink slip can have on your MBA admission outcome.

Don’t stay home and mop around. It is important that you use the time wisely. You will not be able to get away with saying that you spent the last 6 months looking for a job.

Vacationing for more than a few weeks also would be a poor example as far as the admissions board is concerned.

Develop a track record that shows your leadership initiative and potential. A practical use of the time in between getting a pink slip and securing another job is volunteering.

It’s not enough to simply go to a soup kitchen once a month. The MBA Board will scrutinize what you have spent your time on.

Select a nonprofit organization that you genuinely care about and arrange to work with them to solve some of the challenges they are facing.

For example, if you have a technical background, you could help them transform their technology infrastructure to help them become more efficient.

If your background is in business development, it would be useful to draw from your experience, even contacts, to help the organization form new partnerships.

The key here is that you are able to demonstrate your leadership ability and produce real impact in an area that reinforces your brand.

Be Open to New Opportunities. Say you are a career changer and wish to pursue an MBA to move into a different industry or function, getting laid off could be an opportunity for you to get some preliminary experience in the new career area before business school.

Don’t be afraid to take on an interesting job that is a one year commitment. I had a client leave banking to go to the Amazonian Jungles for a year.

The experiences he gained in the first three months of his time there featured prominently in his application and he was able to gain admission to all his schools If entrepreneurship is appealing to you, this may be an opportunity for you to start an organization that you are truly passionate about.

The key is to have a game plan, targeted goals and a realistic timeline to achieve them so you can ensure you have results you can point to that demonstrate your commitment and value to the MBA class should you be admitted.

Beef Up Your Academics. If your transcript is spotty with several C grades or lower, it may be worth taking some coursework and earning strong grades to show academic discipline.

On the GMAT front, you can use this time to take a prep program to significantly improve your score.

I’m often asked the magic score and while there isn’t one, a benchmark that I use is that if it is below 680, and it’s the first time you have taken it, you should definitely retake it if you have the time to prepare more thoroughly for it.

If you have taken it 5 times, even after two prep courses, and still have 620 as your highest score, you may be better off focusing on other parts of your application.

You may also want to try the GRE (Graduate Records Examination) since a few schools accept them (Stanford and MIT Sloan to name a few).

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