https://twitter.com/adweak/status/1039759735879290885 Sometimes people tell us that their long-term post-MBA career goal is to be a “thought leader.” (Apparently in Washington, DC, people say this on first dates , too.) This is not a career goal for so many reasons – and even worse, it just sounds, ohidunno, maybe the word is cocky?? We…
We frequently see this in essays and it can certainly be a way to show something significant about your background and qualifications. But only if you use it to show something significant. What we mean by that is, the simple fact that you took over when a manager vacated is only a small fraction of…
Authenticity is just a concept. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. It’s not like a question on the GMAT, where there’s only one correct answer and you can find out if you did it right (or at least, on a practice exam you will find out). Because it’s a concept, authenticity is not…
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…
Recently we laid out two techniques that applicants often use in essays: 1) Talks about how the school they’re applying to is “the best at blah blah” or is “world renowned” or something about how it’s so set apart from its peers 2) Talks about THEMSELVES in similar language, saying that they were the only…
OK that title is misleading – there’s not one “best way” to convey readiness. Readiness needs to come through in many facets of your application – definitely through the stories you present in your essays, but also in the progression of your career as reflected on the resume, and the individual bullets on the resume itself, and also of course through what your recommenders say…
BUT there’s one important technique that you should be leveraging in how you tell your stories and present your goals in the essays. This is true for any essay, any school.
Since many of you are (better be!) writing essays today, we thought we’d toss out this little nugget of advice to help you along. You maybe have heard it before. We cover this type of thing in the App Accelerators. It’s hugely useful and very important.
This particular advice is actually lifted straight from the creative writing class. If you’ve ever written a short story or tried to put your memoirs down on the page, you’re likely familiar with it. It’s called “show, don’t tell.”
We find this is a very difficult concept to relate to for most people — that little “show, don’t tell” phrase is incredibly mysterious for some reason, it’s a hard puzzle for the brain to crack.
What “show, don’t tell” means is that you want to demonstrate (“show”) that something is true – not just claim that it is. You want to paint a little picture for your reader through something tangible, instead of lobbing out empty words.
The “show, don’t tell” advice applies to all your essays. Whenever you’re writing about who you are and how you got to be that way, whether it’s a personal “who” or a professional “who”, you want to be giving concrete EVIDENCE that that’s how things are for you. It’s way more impactful to use a hardcore example to illustrate a point.
So, instead of tossing out the claim that you have the “ability to find new opportunities, manage projects, yada yada yada” you would use an example:
“When I pursued the opportunity of X and managed projects by doing ABC, it prepared me for the next challenge of blah blah blah”.
When you just say stuff, it’s not helpful. When you SHOW STUFF, it’s awesome.
You can’t use this technique everywhere or your essays would bloat to monster size. But you want to scatter these around – they’re the most impactful way to communicate your actual skills and accomplishments.
OK, enough procrastinating. You should not be hanging out at the EssaySnark blahg today. You should be WRITING! Go to it, Brave Supplicant! Get it done!
And if you want to get your stuff reviewed, make it snappy – prices will go up very soon and our review queue is getting full.
Sometimes you’ll hear the admissions folks say that essays aren’t as important as applicants think or that you shouldn’t spend that much time on your essays — and EssaySnark says baloney. First of all, if the essays aren’t that important, why do the schools have you write them? Of course they’re important. If they weren’t,…
Given our fraught public dialogue these days, the adcoms are becoming ever more sensitive to hype and propaganda in MBA apps. You don’t want to risk your candidacy by taking liberties with language! We don’t mean our standard exhortation about lying. Instead, we’re talking about hype. We have seen BSers inadvertently step in it when…
Yeah yeah yeah it’s still summer. You have plenty of time before Round 1 hits.
Or do you?
Generally speaking, once the Fourth of July holiday has happened in the States, that’s also when the BSers who end up being the most successful have geared up and gotten busy.
We actually recommended that people get busy several times over the past few months — like this on when do you prefer to freak out? — but do BSers listen to us?
If you did, kudos to you! There’s at least one person taking this stuff seriously! 😉
For everyone else out there: NOW IS THE TIME!
Deadlines still feel like they’re way off on the horizon, and deadlines have this alluring quality about them where they just LOVE to be ignored for as long as humanly possible. It’s how deadlines work for most people, in every aspect of life.
But guess what? Writing those essays is gonna take you way longer than you expect.
If you’re still facing down the prospect of that darned GMAT test, then obviously yes, you should be focusing there. However you also need to be spending some serious time with a calendar and looking at how you intend to fit all of this in.
Each one of your many essays will require AT LEAST three revisions before they’re going to be anywhere near submissible. (Submissable? Submittable? OK yes, submittable.)
Or wait – that’s not actually true. There is nothing in any of the schools’ online applications that will prevent you from actually submitting the essay. So that word is not quite right.
But whether the essay you submit will have a rat’s ass chance in h3ll of getting a happy reaction from your adcom reader is a totally other question.
Rushed writing tends to end up in rejections.
A smart process will allow for multiple cycles of revision.
That revision takes time – because that process requires work. And, uh, thinking. Which some of you seem to be a little unaccustomed to. 😉
So get busy, Brave Supplicant! Dive in now, when you still have the luxury of TIME and SPACE and no fire-breathing monsters of DEADLINES sitting on your shoulder!
PS: The Complete Essay Package is a great way to get full support from the ‘Snark through the process!
You may also be interested in:
- We tell BSers this every year… (posted last year! 🙂 )
We’re reblahgging this because a fairly recent NY Times article, How to Spot and Overcome Your Hidden Weaknesses , mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect and reminded us of the importance of this stuff on learning to write essays!
Whenever anybody sends in material for review by EssaySnark, we know that they think that it’s good.
Err well waitaminit… Sometimes people just phone it in. No idea why anyone would do that. After all if you’re paying for our help on your apps, we’d think that you’d put in the most effort possible to do as well as you can on everything before asking for feedback. You send in sloppy illogical typo-ridden crap to us, we’re going to get stuck on critiquing that. (Plus it may prove a little irksome, given all the resources available to you to do a better job the first time out.)
There’s a difference between a sucky first draft that’s sucky because all first drafts are sucky, and the phone-it-in type who just half-@ssed their way through, slapping some words together and calling it a day.
Today we’re talking about the sucky first draft phenomenon.
This is just how it works in any kind of writing.
Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of everything is shit.”
Yup, he said that, he really did. And he would know!!!
The difference when you’re not A Writer is that you may not realize that your first draft is shit. Or maybe you do and you don’t know how else to change things to make it better. Which is of course why you’ve enlisted our help in the process.
There’s also this thing called the Dunning-Kruger Effect which is a cognitive bias whereby absolute beginners – the unskilled – produce some work which they believe is much better than it actually is.
Now, despite the fact that your first draft will suck, and that when you send it in to us for review it will come back fully decimated (which is in fact why we named our review service that) you may still have trouble dealing with the fact that your precious essay-baby was obliterated by the ‘Snark’s critique. When you get your first draft critiques back, then you should take a deep breath, and recognize that everybody goes through this, acknowledge that perhaps you too fell victim to that cognitive bias thing we mentioned that everyone falls victim to, and then turn to this post on how to deal with the feedback you’ll receive. It’s very likely to be overwhelming.
Or, if you’re not yet at the point where you’re ready to submit any first drafts – ‘cuz like they haven’t been written yet – then we STRONGLY suggest you look into our Complete Essay Package, which is designed to help you identify and develop the building blocks of your pitch, in a step-by-step process. The Complete Essay Package is the best way to ensure that the essay reviews you receive back on those first drafts are not all full of “Nope, no, not gonna work” but are instead full of “Good to see you opening with this, this is important” and “OK, this has potential, but…” and “Maybe if you switched this around with that…” and even here or there a “Yes!!”
The fact that all first drafts are crap is the other reason why we always harp on BSers to get started early. (Translation: NOW.) Good essays come through revision. Revision takes time. This is not an overnight process – not if you expect things to hold together in a logical progression of thoughts that are targeted and specific, and that answer the question with the appropriate levels of insight and depth.
Sitting here right exactly at this point on the calendar is an IDEAL time to get started on those Round 1 applications.
We’re here to help when you’re ready for it!