How To Write An MBA Personal Statement
It’s true. Writing a great MBA personal statement really is the gateway to your future.
Get it right and you should secure an MBA interview, gain a place on your MBA course and improve your career prospects. But where do you start?
1. Do your research
Once you’ve decided where you want to study your MBA, focus intently on the institution and their MBA courses.
Spend quality time trawling all over their website and pay particular attention to their business schools and MBA programmes.
Use the personal statement to show which aspects of the programme and life at the school you’re most interested in. Better yet, if you’ve connected with the staff, students or alumni, share something you’ve learnt from them.
Read and inwardly digest how they describe their MBAs. What’s their written style, and tone of voice? This can give you a clue to the ethos of their MBA programmes and you can tailor your personal statement to fit this. Check to see if they publish example personal statements.
If not, call and chat with the MBA admission tutors to find out what they’re looking for on personal statements and ask the tutors if they can provide any (anonymous of course) from previous year students to help you.
2. Be personal
Once you’ve completed your research it’s time to get personal. Your personal statement is not a ‘copy and paste’ job from your CV, and you shouldn't just write something generic that could apply to any business school.
You need to make sure that each statement is tailored to a specific school, otherwise this will raise a red flag with the admissions tutors straight away.
Tutors want to find candidates who are dynamic, driven and show genuine passion and a personal connection to the values and ethos of the school they’re applying to
This means your personal statement isn't about your achievements, but how the subject matter of your MBA relates to your work and personal life and how you can connect to and immerse yourself in your MBA.
By all means use personal and work anecdotes, just ensure you link them to your MBA subject. They need to be relevant, honest and thought provoking all at the same time.
It’s also worth including why you want to study at the university/business school you’re applying to and why this particular MBA.
Be very specific and personal but please don’t over flatter as the tutors want to understand your real motivation. Don’t generalise or waffle either, and if you make a statement, make sure you can back it up with evidence and statistics (if possible).
If you’re going to use quotes, make sure they’re from papers you’ve properly researched and grasped, not just ones you’ve skim read.
You’re very creative and imaginative so put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about who is actually going to read your personal statement. What would they want to read that makes them sit up and take notice, that’s unique and highlights your strengths.
Focus on what makes you feel personally connected to the school, and what you can bring to the cohort as an individual. Tell them what motivates you, what experiences and achievements have shaped you and informed your future goals.
You should also mention anything in your profile that you think needs some explanation or context – perhaps a low GPA in your Bachelor’s degree, a career gap or an unusual gap change. It will help the school to understand your academic or professional journey.
3. Pay attention to detail
It’s a must to make sure you build in enough time to reread, proof, sense check and tweak your personal statement, until it’s the best it can be. Focus on great content, grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Please ask family and friends to second check it for you. A fresh pair of eyes is a necessity.
You need to be able to quantify and expand on everything you mention as it is very likely you will be asked about your personal statement in your interview.
Try not to write more than two sides of A4, otherwise it will end up overly long (some schools may request no more than one A4 page).
4. Look for inspiration
Read as many other MBA personal statements as you can find for ideas, tips and advice.
Social media sites, online forums and online MBA course reviews are essential references.
Search out friends on social media (or friends of friends) who are or were MBA students that can provide hints and tips on personal statements.
You can also look through our MBA personal statements as great examples to steer you in the right direction.
5. Sell yourself
Don’t be backwards at coming forwards - sell yourself!
We’re all the best in the world at something and very good at lots of other things as well. Let the tutors know this on your personal statement because they won’t know otherwise; they can’t read your mind!
As you can imagine MBA tutors read hundreds of personal statements year after year.
Yours needs to be the one they remember for the right reasons: well written and researched, from start to finish full of really relevant examples linked to your MBA subject and with your commitment and desire centre stage.
This is your opportunity to shine and showcase your talents. Seize your moment in the spotlight and be inspirational.
6. Talk about your career goals
Share your long-term career plans and name the sector you are interested in and why.
For example, you could specialise in strategy to work in the healthcare field, especially if that is where your current experience is. Share your knowledge by speculating on the future challenges for the industry.
If you have room, include why this university’s MBA program is the best option for you.
Think about how the programme excites you and what makes it stand out from the others. Also consider how it will allow you to help solve a real world problems.
If there is a specific faculty member or course that attracts you to this program, name the professor or class and explain the appeal.
Imagine where you want to be in ten or fifteen years and then describe how the MBA and the university’s alumni network will help you achieve that.
For more tips and advice on applying for an MBA, please see: