Sell Yourself With an MBA Resume
The MBA resume is a whole other animal from the standard curriculum vitae designed to land you a job. Instead, the resume you tailor specifically for business schools should offer a quick snapshot of your significant work experiences and accomplishments in three areas that showcase your MBA-relevant skills.
Business schools want to see applicants who already have strong leadership skills. Of course, you’ll further groom your management abilities during your MBA program. But the admissions committee wants to know that the foundation is already there.
Give evidence of when you:
- United people behind a common goal,
- Made use of other’s talents and skills,
- Instilled a vision,
- Challenged the status quo,
- Identified a new problem, or
- Prioritized the organization’s needs above personal needs.
If you formally manage one or more people, don’t leave that information out. Even if you supervise and mentor someone informally, that should go on the resume as well. If you have played a role in training peers, subordinates, or even those senior to you (perhaps on a new type of software), include that on your resume. Anything that shows how you identified an opportunity and took the initiative is a great thing to have.
Our client George worried because he didn’t have a title change throughout his four years at a defense contracting company. Because he worked as an engineer, raises rather than a new title denoted the increase in his responsibilities. We looked at what George did outside of work to see where he could highlight a leadership role.
George had participated in an annual charity bike ride for the past five years, so we suggested that he volunteer to coordinate the next ride. The event became this bullet point on his resume: “Led annual bike ride to raise money in support of autistic children. Recruited volunteers, coordinated vendors and managed finances. Resulted in 14% increase in revenue over prior year.”
This brief, compelling example showcased his leadership abilities, emotional intelligence, and service to the community—a winning trifecta every time.
(Check out B-Schooled Podcast Episode #16: How to MBA Your Resume)
Display Your Top-Notch Communication Skills
Today’s tech-native generation of applicants is as comfortable texting, tweeting, and Snapchatting as they are breathing. Consequently, recruiters often gripe about the mediocre writing and speaking skills of newly minted MBAs.
Your MBA resume is prime real estate for showcasing savvy communication skills through crisp writing and well-chosen words. You can make even the most mundane tasks shine as you bullet-point your professional accomplishments.
A real example of a blah bullet point in a client’s first draft: “Helped with new software implementation.”
Now, here’s a brilliant bullet point: “Spearheaded software upgrade in the San Francisco field office by coordinating with software developer, leading training sessions and facilitating implementation schedule.” The second example offers a much more comprehensive understanding of the scope of the accomplishment.
Getting rid of any technical jargon in your MBA resume also demonstrates effective communication skills. One client originally listed this bullet point on his resume: “Created VA1 Business Acquisition.”
Once we translated that into something the MBA admissions audience would understand, the resume said: “Devised and launched outbound communications plan for our premier voice activated product. Product was well received and became cash flow positive within 14 months.” Much better.
Show Innovation in Your MBA Resume
You need to make it clear that you have picked up new skills throughout your career, assumed new responsibilities, developed as an individual—and that others have recognized this growth.
You can convince the admissions committee that you have a track record of moving the needle by showing continual progression on the job and giving examples of when you went above and beyond your expected duties and delivered quantifiable results.
“Adcom knows that IB’ers run financial models all day,” says SBC consultant Caryn Altman. “Instead, a better use of the space is to call out how applicants differentiated themselves while doing a particular model (maybe found a unique error or insight that was then communicated to the client).”
Some applicants have very traditional pre-MBA jobs. For example, suppose you have been working as a staff consultant at Bain & Company or as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. In that case, chances are the admissions committee will have a pretty good feel for your overall job description.
But this is also where you can show what sets you apart from the typical analyst. For example, in addition to outlining some of your routine activities, you may want to include that you trained a newly hired analyst, led college recruiting efforts, or organized an office-wide volunteer initiative.
These activities may have taken less of your time. But they are a bit outside of traditional responsibilities and give great insight into how you have made a difference for your firm.
The resume is an essential first step in the MBA application process. It forces applicants to take stock of their progression and think about articulating that in a concise way. By focusing on these three goals, you’ll show the admissions committee exactly how you will add something new, exciting, and different to their community.