December 30th, 2009 by Joern Meissner
The number of applicants to graduate programs, including MBA and other business programs, are skyrocketing thanks to the recession and the continued high unemployment rate. Added in to the normal mix of business-minded professionals who are either looking to advance their careers or change career paths entirely, a large portion of MBA applicants are in heavy competition to land a job to get them through the next few years of trying times.
But for those who believe once they have gained admission to the MBA program of their choice, I have some bad news, just getting into an MBA program may no longer be enough. In particular, job recruiters, especially in these high unemployment times where each job is getting hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified applicants, may still request to see an applicant’s GMAT scores before deciding to interview her/him.
While the GMAT score might not truly represent a person’s qualifications, it is widely accepted that there is a correlation between a person’s score and a person’s ability, especially in quantitative intensive work. Therefore, job recruiters use it just like many MBA programs: as a bottom line to quickly eliminate the weakest applicants.
Job recruiters might see this as a complete win, as they can now immediately disqualify any resume, without even reading the rest of it, that either doesn’t have a GMAT score listed (if it had been requested) or doesn’t hit a certain number score. It saves time and money, essentially making the employer happy. If it means they might miss out on interviewing one or two great candidates who just don’t take tests well, most recruiters are all right with that. Job markets and job searches are so tough right now that some recruiters have openly quoted a desired GMAT score at 700, in other words, a result within the best 10 percent of all test takers.
I have always advised those MBA students at Lancaster University Management School to retake the GMAT if their test score is below 720 and if they aim to apply for competitive positions, for example management consulting or investment banking. The job recruiter doesn’t care if you got your best GMAT result before your MBA admission or after, just as long as you can prove you’re just as good, or hopefully even better, than the next guy.