The third in this month's series of MBA application tips. How do you stand out as a person?

Applications are designed to give the school an insight into who you are as well as showing if you meet the specific admissions criteria.

There are what I call the tick boxes that need to be addressed: GMAT, years of work experience, international exposure, … Make it easy for the reader of your application to tick all these boxes, but in a world where you are competing against others to get that seat, you also need to stand out.

When you start your application, you probably already have an idea of the achievements you want to highlight. But ideally, you also need to think about what the school is looking for and then find ways to merge the two elements.

At IMD, we’re focused on leadership development, so we’re looking for leadership potential. We only accept 90 people, so there’s no space to be anonymous, each individual counts. What makes you who you are? What lessons have you learnt along the way? Try to see yourself through the eyes of someone else.

Make sure you use all the sections of the application. The CV is a great place to show your achievements, but sometimes, it’s your personal interests that tweak our interest, and not just your professional experience.

On the whole, everyone who applies is going to have a success story to tell, but what about the other side of things? Have you taken risks? Shown initiative? Faced failure? Overcome challenges?

I’ve often been surprised by an off-hand mention of a startup project, as if it doesn’t matter. Sometimes because it’s a University experience. And yet, these are the kind of details that can really set you apart. What kind of startup project? What inspired you? How did you go about things? What happened? If it all went wrong, what were your key takeaways?

This is your chance to show your initiative, leadership potential, creativity, drive, analytical skills, strategy … so many things. And if it didn’t work? What did you learn from it and how you are applying those learnings?

What about personal interests? What are you passionate about? What kind of a person are you – a consistent over-achiever, high energy, balanced, calm, a thrill-seeker. This part of the application could be your chance to help us see you as a person.

So – brainstorm, talk to friends and family, think out of the box and let us see who you really are.

Good luck!

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