Tips for Harvard Business School Essay (HBS)

It always seems so unfair to contend with HBS….


everyone’s dream school – as the first application essay – right when you’re developing your “sea legs” in the world of MBA admissions!


A few pointers.


First of all, please know that when it comes to word count, they are giving you enough rope to hang yourself here. Concision is valued and needs to be reflected.


MBA Applicants often feel as though more is better. This is not the case and if you’ve ever reviewed resumes for a living, you know what I’m talking about. The mantra here is targeted, not comprehensive.


If you are struggling to choose, can you take some of these things and roll them up into leadership characteristics that are broader, but still meaningful? The key is to find the essence of it, the golden thread, what others say is unique about you, what you’re known for – as it relates to leadership.


People can only digest so much at a time. For this reason, it’s your responsibility to be super clear and focused. Would you be more attracted to a political candidate who mentioned three things or 20? In many ways, this is your campaign speech – your pitch. Limit the focus to increase comprehension of the message.


Also, be transparent and avoid jargon. Make it easy for us to walk into your world – they ask for this specifically. Step outside of yourself and your world – in order to write an essay that is digestible by the adcom.


Strategically select an anecdote, possibly two, that reflect what it is you are known for, what might be your brand as it relates to leadership. There needs to be a hook and they need to get clear on what your trying to say in the first 15 seconds.


You don’t want the same anecdotes to show up in your letter of recommendation, but you want both items to point to the same qualities.


Feel free to reach out if you like me to review your drafts. I’ll send you audio file feedback.


– Farrell
I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 



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