MBA Resume Basics

Resumes are boring.  Everybody has one and most sound the same.  Unfortunately, it’s a critical part of a winning MBA application.

Don’t let the banality of resume crafting lull you into missing this important part of the MBA application puzzle.  Given the eternal shrinking of the application process, with fewer essays and more stringent word count restrictions being standard, the resume has taken on more prominence.  Plus, the resume is essentially the road map to your entire application---it’s literally the key to which admissions committees refer to remain oriented on your career progress and what makes you tick.

If your resume doesn’t scream loudly about who you are as a person, you have done something wrong.

Although the typical job resume is more like a CV containing a sterile log of past professional achievements, the MBA application resume should be more revealing.  Choose action verbs to begin each bullet point and provide support for why you have those achievements, not just “that” you have them.  Certainly a straightforward, chronological walk through your career is vital, but you should add color to your descriptions which take the reader one level deeper than an employer might want to go. 

While you should definitely be exploring the why behind the what in your essays, the resume is a great place to unpack personal details as well.  The key thing to keep in mind is that this should be a different resume than the one you might submit for a job.  B-schools will want to see more evidence on the resume, for example, for how you have worked well in teams, particularly in diverse teams across various divisions or other areas.  While playing well in the sandbox might seem too wishy-washy for a potential employer, it’s key information for a business school.  Another profile trait that is often skipped when writing a resume is leadership initiative.  Remember that “leading when you’re not in charge,” is a great thing to highlight.  Think about how you can demonstrate your influence or impact through your resume.

A hearty section for additional information is also paramount for an MBA resume.

While employers might find it interesting that you like to travel or that you volunteer at your local Red Cross, the “additional information” section of your MBA resume should unpack your activities beyond the workplace in more detail.  This section more than any other can reveal your personality and what makes you tick, all of which is critical insight for schools looking to add you to their permanent alumni roles.

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