What should my MBA application resume look like? With the launch of the 2014-2015 MBA admissions season, this is a critical question applicants around the world will be asking themselves over the next 6-8 months. The good news is the answer is simple: your resume should be a forward-thinking advertisement that markets your strengths. Your essays should elaborate the strengths. The execution of that simple design, however, comes with a number of important caveats:
Structure & Format
1. Subheadings should be as follows: work experience, education, and additional. Objective is an outmoded practice still en vogue with some resume-writing services; however, it is not the standard of top MBA programs or elite corporate recruiting.
2. Applicants with limited or no work experience should find other ways to express leadership impact through a new subheading, such as extracurricular or nonprofit leadership. To learn what aspects of leadership should be highlighted, read Winning MBA Essay Guide from Chapter 18.
3. Font: Size 10, Times New Roman. Margins should be close to 0.7-1 inch.
4. Length: for most applicants, even those with 5-8 yrs of professional experience, a 1 page resume is sufficient and preferred.
1. Each role should have no more than 4 bullets, and most well-developed bullets should occupy two lines.
2. Lead with strong, active verbs. ‘Was responsible for’ might be replaced with ‘spearheaded,’ ‘facilitated,’ or ‘managed.’ Keep verbs in present tense for current roles and ongoing responsibilities, past tense for past roles and projects.
3. Each bullet should reflect situation, action and result. What was the situation? What action did you perform to solve it? What was the outcome?
4. Quantify and qualify your impact. Include % and $ signs where possible, which are also great visual cues for your reader.
5. Key questions to ask yourself: do your bullets present the full dimension of your job function and business skills? Do they seem overblown or convincing?
1. If you have only one professional role to draw from, consider bucketing project experience to show leadership development and multi-dimensional business expertise.
2. What type of career goals have you detailed in your essays? Your resume can reinforce this brand and your full application package, and show your readiness for the next step or even career transition.
3. Capture leadership roles, academic accomplishments, and extracurricular activities under your college education. This will show the type of student you’ll be.
4. Additional: this is a great place to include more humanizing details and strengths. Most applicants will include languages, advanced computer skills, volunteer work, and hobbies.
Of course, many applicants will also deliberate on the differences between a resume and a CV, and which to submit for their MBA application. At one time, CV’s were more prevalent in European countries (they are still the standard in academia as well), but in a more global, fast-paced business culture, that convention is beginning to shift. A recruiter or admissions committee member may spend 30-45 seconds, at most, evaluating your resume. Through crisp language, straightforward design, and some strategic thinking around capturing your strengths, your resume can catch their eye, strengthen your MBA candidacy, and get your foot in the door.
Related: Learn how to promote your Leadership & Emotional Intelligence (Two Qualities that Business Schools measure) by using Contexts, Persuasion Techniques and Storytelling.
About Janson Woodlee
Janson Woodlee graduated from Yale University, his studies focusing on cognitive science and music. As a college student, he was a Senior Editor with EssayEdge immediately after graduation, he worked with Katzenbach Partners, a management consulting firm and McKinsey offshoot. Ivy Eyes Editing was founded on the elements from his diverse background--including grammatical rigor and client collaboration--as well as a distinctive commitment to strategic admissions guidance, writing with style and authenticity, and deep ethical standards