We should trademark this phrase! It’s so useful in capturing a key objective in how you present yourself in your MBA essays — the resume too, for that matter.
So what in heck do we mean by this?
Obviously what you want to be presenting in your essays especially is evidence of impact. “Impact” and “Leadership” are not necessarily synonymous, but they’re often related. When you demonstrate leadership, then that means something happens as a result of your actions. That “something” is another way to say “impact.”
But the essays are short! And your adcom reader’s mind is cabbage! She’s been reading essays all day and she’s tired. Help her to help you! How? By giving the adcom simple statements that clearly demonstrate this impact — without her having to struggle through reams and reams of text. Your essay needs to have all this evidence of impact presented succinctly, clearly, in an easy-to-digest fashion.
So what does that mean?
You guessed it!
The thing you did needs to be clearly defined.
The value it brought also needs to be obvious.
(Blatant Upsell: Our Accomplishments & Achievements App Accelerator helps you figure this stuff out!)
In most cases, you need to be really brief with what you say and how you say it. A common issue with many first drafts — and many tenth drafts too! — is they’re too long-winded. They are repetitive. Or the wording is unclear and the story just doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes that’s due to issues like jargon and sometimes it’s poor word choice or sloppy writing — or more often, sloppy thinking.
So how brief is brief?
What’s a good target of length for a solid example to use in an essay – like, for Harvard’s essay, or maybe for the MIT Cover Letter?
It’s very possible to get the full story across in 175-ish words.
It’s also totally possible to do it in far fewer, when you’re working under the constraints of the bullets on a resume.
You do NOT need 300 words to tell one single story about what you did on that project.
The drawback with the unlimited-length essays like what Booth has this year, and of course with Harvard, is that often people end up using way more words than is necessary. And that bogs things down. If the reader is bored…..
Or even worse, if they just can’t figure things out. If you keep jumping around, or slogging through backstory, or using imprecise language where what you actually mean is not being presented on the page… None of this will impress your admissions reader.
Yeah yeah yeah, we’re stating the obvious. But if it were obvious, why do we see so many sh!tty essay drafts come in?
So. Compact Impact. That’s your byword. That’s your target. That’s what you’re aiming for. Compact Impact.
Get two or three of these impact stories built out, and you’ll be able to reuse them in plenty of places throughout the different apps that you’re building.
Say what you mean.
Show how you delivered.
Demonstrate that you made the world a better place — even if only in your tiny microcosm.
We guarantee you, it can be a surefire way to the adcom reader’s heart.
You might also be interested in: