In short, while it’s easy to get too worried about what your salary says about you as an applicant, it’s a good indicator of how well you’ve performed on the job, and of how valuable you are to your employer. It’s one thing to get a promotion or two, but, at the end of the day, did your employer “show you the money?”
To get a reliable read on how well you’ve performed on the job, MBA admissions officers only have several things to go by: What you say in your essays/resume/interview, what your recommendation writers say, and your salary information. Obviously, you will say you were great, and you will probably only request a letter of recommendation from someone who will say the same thing. This is where your salary information comes in. It provides a sort of indisputable “fact check” to see how much the company really valued you.
Maybe you received two promotions in title since you were hired, but your salary didn’t increase much. If that same company (or other, similar companies in the same industry) tends to give much more significant raises to younger employees, that may tell admissions officers that the company promoted you to keep you from quitting, but you weren’t necessarily so great that they were actually willing to pay you significantly more to keep you. Said another way, did the company put its money where its mouth was, or did your title change each year because that’s just what happens with all employees at the firm, regardless of their performance?
Don’t worry if you come from a company or an industry that doesn’t pay a great deal. The more important point is to demonstrate that your level of responsibility has increased over time (a great indicator of strong performance). Your salary is one way to demonstrate that, but it’s not the only way.
To get a feel for your chances of admission to a top MBA program, try Veritas Prep’s Business School Selector, an absolutely free resource for all MBA applicants. If you’re ready to start planning your candidacy, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter!