Tasks vs. Skills: A Top Mistake to Avoid

Posted By SWatts on Dec 27, 2014 | 0 comments

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Tasks vs. Skills: A Top Mistake to Avoid

Some MBA applications will ask you to state your tasks. Another question may ask you to list your skills. Maybe in your resume you are trying to figure out how to best make the admissions committee understand the work you do. But do you really understand the difference between tasks and skills?

Focusing on skills – rather than tasks – can help you present a much more compelling application.

Let’s look at an example of a task: Consider when an engineer needs to improve a product’s reliability. He or she leads a team to perform 5 or 6 different types of tests on the product. This is a task. What is important in the admissions process is not that you successfully ran the appropriate tests, which was a task. Instead, what is important are the skills that allowed you to lead a team to identify the necessary tests, to delegate work so that the tests were run well, and to put forth suggestions of needed changes to the product. Leadership, delegation, vision — these are all valuable skills! These are skills that you can bring to business school, and these are skills that will carry you beyond the schoolhouse and into the wider world.

Your essays will have a much more positive impact on your admissions if you can describe the skills behind your work — analytical, leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving, etc. Giving an example of how you have used these skills is equally critical, but describing a task alone will not cut it. If the admissions committee believes you have mastered these skills, it is much more likely they believe that you are ready for business school and that your classmates will be able to learn a great deal from you.

Take-away: When you write your essays, don’t just list tasks that you completed as a part of your professional experience; elaborate on and focus on your skills.

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