More and more candidates with a marketing background are applying to top MBA programs, and the competition to land a spot in a coveted program gets fiercer every year.
How can you capitalize on your background in marketing to submit the strongest possible applications? Here are seven tips to consider:
1. Remember, you’re marketing yourself.
You likely have solid experience marketing a service or product. Now, you need to take the skills you’ve developed to market yourself—your own brand. What compelling narrative can you share about why you need an MBA, why now, and why at a particular MBA program? What key themes about yourself can you weave throughout your applications? Do some self-reflection to come up with the story that only you can tell.
2. Highlight your cross-functional experience.
Most marketing professionals work with other functions in an organization to some degree; showcase this experience in your applications. How have you learned to work with the strategy team? Finance? Operations? Do you use different types of communication skills with each? What about engineers or tech people?
Don’t discount the importance of being exposed to many business functions during your pre-MBA roles. Demonstrate not only what you have done in a cross-functional capacity, but also how you GREW as a result.
3. Showcase your global marketing experience.
If your organization is global and you have worked with international offices, be sure to explain that experience and what you learned from engaging with people from diverse backgrounds or geographies. The ability to connect and communicate with diverse groups is a critical skill to succeed in business school and in life. Many applicants to MBA programs cannot demonstrate this skill through actual work experience; if you can, capitalize on it.
4. Include hard numbers when possible.
If you manage your organization’s marketing budget, or even a distinct piece of the budget, be sure to highlight this responsibility. When results have been identified, include them (e.g., % increase in lead generation, $MM increase in revenue). Marketing is one function that often lends itself to showing results in hard numbers, which MBA programs want to see.
5. Highlight your creativity.
As a marketing professional, you likely have been trained to think out of the box and push limits in innovative ways to help your organization’s brand gain traction. Use this to your advantage in your applications! Some schools offer video essays that allow you to show your creativity, but even in a simple goals essay you should be sure to highlight how you have been innovative in marketing to help your brand succeed.
6. Connect to post-MBA goals.
As you consider your career goals, think about whether you want to stay in marketing or use an MBA to transition to a new function. What skills do you need to develop in order to reach those goals? Connect your past work experience to where you want to go and explain why an MBA is the way to get there.
7. Choose recommenders wisely.
Since you are not coming from a quant-heavy background, your choice of recommenders can help demonstrate that you are ready for the rigors of an MBA curriculum. Try to choose at least one person who can speak to your quantitative ability by using specific examples from your work. If you regularly crunch and analyze numbers in your role, make sure your recommenders highlight this ability. Or if you have a recommender from a quant-heavy role outside of work, such as managing the budget for a community organization, that person could highlight your quantitative strengths, if applicable.
Recommendations can be a critical way to help fill gaps in other parts of your application, so identify what those gaps might be and suggest that your recommenders include examples that help you overcome any weaknesses.