Don’t be a Schmuck

Yep, that’s today’s advice. Straight from the mouth of many a New York Rabbi. For those of you who haven’t spent large significant parts of your lives in New York, and don’t yet know what a schmuck is, basically it’s a fancier, more fun way of saying “Don’t be a fool,” (seriously, it’s actually fun to say). Simple, clean, crisp advice.

Put differently, Admissionado-style, here are 5 ways to avoid being a Schmuck:

1) DON’T tell the school something they don’t need to know – You were fired from your last job? Never lie obviously, but do as any good lawyer would, and… focus on all the good stuff. Worst thing you can do is be defensive. Defensiveness is like chum to Jaws. Talk about the good stuff and be prepared to address if asked, but let ’em ask you.

2) DON’T be arrogant – You were top of the class? Fastest promoted manager in work? Highest salary for someone your age? Congratulations! But keep the ego at bay. There’s a difference between confident and arrogant. Few things are a bigger turn-off in an application than a tone that is arrogant. So how can you tell what’s confident and what’s arrogant? Have folks read it who won’t pull punches. Doesn’t have to be a consultant, but make sure your reader isn’t afraid to say “Dude, you sound like an asshole here. Tone it down, big guy.”

3) DON’T blame others – Blaming others in your essays feels cheap. It feels cry-babyish. And worst of all, it makes it seem like you lack control. Be a leader. Take responsibility. In fact, taking responsibility for stuff that wasn’t EVEN your fault shows a sense of ownership and pride. Blaming others wins you ZERO points.

4) DON’T say bad stuff about the boss – Disrespect and irreverence shown to a governing body is not likely to get you very far. No matter how “in the wrong” he/she might have been. Registering a difference in opinion can be strong, but it will be even stronger to demonstrate your respect for the position, the title, the way the pieces need to snap together to make things run, IN SPITE OF a difference in opinion, or a bad relationship. In the wise wise words of Ron Burgundy, “Stay classy.”

5) DON’T contradict yourself – If you write a story, stick to it. One of your great weaknesses is difficulties with public speaking? Okay. Don’t tell us about performing in front of millions in American Idol in the very next essay. (This happens a lot, and it’s an instant red flag.)

And finally, in a category all of its own, because its sooooooo fundamentally important in your application process:

Answer the question! – [We never get tired of issuing this command.] You’ve written your essay? Liking the way its been turning out? Go back and reread it, and at every phrase stop yourself and ask: Am I answering THEIR question?

Cool, cool. Keep these ideas tucked away somewhere and revisit them every so often for good measure.

The Art of Quotations