Notable Essay Mistake to Avoid: Tasks vs. Skills

Posted By SWatts on May 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Notable Essay Mistake to Avoid: Tasks vs. Skills

As an MBA applicant, are you aware of the difference between tasks and skills? Equally importantly, do you understand how focusing on skills rather than tasks in your MBA admissions essays can help you present a much more compelling application?

To illustrate what a task is, consider an example when an engineer needs to improve a product’s reliability and therefore leads a team to perform 5-6 different types of tests on the product. Their task is to complete the tests and improve the reliability. But if you write an essay about the tasks alone, you will fail to present a strong essay.

What is important in the MBA admissions process is not that you successfully ran the appropriate tests, which was one of your tasks. Rather, what is important are the skills that allowed you to lead a team to understand the designated goals, to identify the tests to be conducted, to delegate work in ways that optimized the team’s performance, to set forth a plan of action, to problem solve effectively, etc. Similarly, the investment banking analyst who has designed an innovative new analytical model should not focus too much on the specifics of the model, but on the skills that allowed him/her to create a blueprint for the model, secure input, gain buy-in, present his/her findings effectively, etc.

Focus on the skills behind your work—these can include analytical, leadership, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills. If the admissions committee believes you have mastered these skills, it is much more likely to believe that you are ready to both learn from and contribute to business school. You should be a much more attractive candidate.

Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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