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How the Tech Layoffs Affect Your MBA Applications This Year and Next

Updated: Feb 1



Big Tech, once impervious to all market forces, has laid many thousands of people off in recent weeks: Amazon is currently planning to lay off 10,000 employees across different divisions, while Meta recently laid off 11,000, Google has had a hiring freeze since late summer and there is talk of a round of layoffs, and of course everyone is aware of Elon Musk’s substantial Twitter layoffs.


Perhaps you’re among these laid-off workers, and perhaps not. This can still affect your chances for one very simple reason: a spike in layoffs in high-performance careers means more applications to MBA programs, which of course affects everyone in the application pipeline.


Furthermore, top-flight business schools will be making extra provisions for people during the remaining rounds this year. It makes sense: highly-qualified candidates with good salaries have just been made available, so any school that wants to maximize the effectiveness (and average earnings) of its cohort would do well to recruit some of these tech workers while they have a good chance. Kellogg is the first to announce such a provision: a GMAT/GRE waiver for tech workers laid off since October 1, 2022, but expect more in the coming weeks.


If You’re a Tech Worker


Don’t necessarily assume that you’ll get a GMAT waiver, even if you’re applying for Kellogg. Remember, the window Kellogg has offered is very tight, so unless you’ve been fired in the past six weeks you won’t get the waiver. Start looking into the GMAT immediately. Other schools might not be so forgiving about the GMAT exam.


That’s not to say that schools will be lenient in their candidate selection: Even Kellogg makes a point that the GMAT waiver is to speed up the process, not to make it easier. You still need to have an impressive profile, good marks in previous programs, and of course an outstanding application.


Schedule a free 20-minute call to discuss the latter.


The other side of the coin is that many of these schools will understand that your preparation time has been limited and will grant some sort of leeway if your score isn’t quite as high as it could be. As ever, it’s better to have a higher score, but if you don’t have time to hit 730+, this fact alone may not count you out.


Consider your post-MBA goals and whether you even want to remain in the Tech industry. This might define which schools are a best fit for you, as different business schools offer not only different focuses within classwork but differing reputations in various fields such as Tech, Consulting, Finance, Social Impact, etc. That is, Cornell might offer a Tech-specific MBA program, but just because you’re coming out of Tech doesn’t mean you need to focus on this particular school. Focus on your outcomes upon exiting, not entering, your MBA program.


Lastly, there seems to be a widespread discussion that people on the engineering side of Tech do not have to worry about their jobs. As if the layoffs at Twitter weren’t enough indication, this is not necessarily a useful outlook. Kellogg notes in their press release that the layoffs affect “nearly every corner of the industry.” If you’re a coder who’s been thinking about an MBA program, now might be a good time to do more research; you don’t have to wait until that unfortunate call from HR.




If You’re Not a Tech Candidate


Unfortunately, your chances of getting accepted probably just fell slightly.


That’s not to say that your application is better or worse than the average Tech worker. Rather, the more people submitting applications for a limited pool of spaces will mathematically reduce your likelihood of acceptance.


There are a few things you can do here, though. Consider plans for what to do if you’re waitlisted, as we will surely see an uptick in waitlist activity this year. Make sure that you have your GMAT up to scratch, because there are of course many STEM-minded people in Tech and people with such training, in the aggregate, tend to have higher GMAT scores.


Finally, make sure that your application materials are as solid as possible. The good news is that you’ve been planning your MBA trajectory for longer than someone who thought they had a job (until last week) has. If the whole of your application is in better shape, then there’s little to worry about. There’s still plenty of time to discuss Round 2, Round 3, and J-Term, so contact us for a free 20-minute chat.





For the Future


This year, we’re expecting to see a reasonable uptick in the number of Tech employees applying for top MBA programs. That said, don’t expect that every person laid off in the Tech world is applying immediately. Next year, however, is also likely to be more competitive because most of those laid off will be taking some time to unwind before putting considerable time and effort into their applications in the coming months with an eye to applying in autumn 2023.


If you’re a Tech candidate, that’s a good reason to get started and put in a Round 2 or Round 3 app this year while you’re still a relative minority among applicants. Remember, the more you stand out, the better. If you’re not a Tech candidate, this year is a great time to push ahead and avoid the flood of Tech folks coming in very soon.


Outside of Tech, the rest of the economy is shaky at best these days. Between inflation, recession, and the carnival-barker antics of Tech titans, there aren’t as many safe jobs as there used to be even outside of Tech. Crude as it is to say, consider soberly how long it might be before that keycard stops working and plan accordingly. Remember, recession implies an uptick in MBA attendance so assess your possibilities and consider getting an application in sooner rather than later.



Want to discuss your chances this year as a tech applicant? Book a chat.



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Hi, I'm Sam.  I'm the founder of Sam Weeks Consulting. Our clients get admitted to top MBA and EMBA programs.

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