Tuesday Tips – The Resume

The MBA resume is only one small piece of the overall application, and therefore often receives little attention as you pull together recommendations and essays. However, your resume is an important snapshot of your experience, and is often the only document you will share in a blind interview situation.

Resume as Marketing Tool

Imagine you are invited to interview at that top 10 MBA dream school. You arrive to meet the alumni representative, excited to share your goals and passion for the school. When you pass your resume across the table, your interviewer takes a glance and starts a conversation about your summer as a scuba instructor in college, skipping over the years you spent dazzling your boss at an investment bank.

While personal flair is always a nice touch, you need to focus your resume on the material that is most important and impressive. Since you are applying for MBA programs, think about the experience that highlights your future potential as a leader and a manager. When have you demonstrated strategic thinking? Taken initiative? Or developed personnel around you?

Defining your key unique attributes will set a strong resume strategy and keep you focused. Make sure you know what you want to highlight about yourself, and minimize experience that is far in the past, or less important to your overall story.

Results not Responsibilities

Because your resume is only one part of the application, you have the luxury to outline the responsibilities and scope of your job in the application data form itself. Do not waste resume space with information you have entered elsewhere on the application.

Your job description tells the reader very little about you and your performance. What sets you apart from the other financial analyst in your department? If you were the one who saved money by managing the budget process most effectively, took on special projects outside your day to day, or took the or took the initiative to manage the intern you will want to highlight these achievements.

Focus on tangible, and preferably quantifiable, results. Define how much money you saved, what the result of the project was, and how your efforts to mentor a junior employee led to his or her success in the department. For more on the impact of achievements and not tasks, see this article at BusinessWeek.com.

Remove Industry Lingo

If you spent the last three years as a Bain consultant or banking at Goldman Sachs your MBA admissions reader is likely familiar with your position and the industry lingo. If you worked in any sort of technical capacity or in a non-MBA feeder profession you will need to translate your industry focused resume into an MBA friendly document.

While it may be important in your profession to demonstrate your technical proficiency or familiarity with specific knowledge, in the MBA application process leadership, teamwork and management potential are paramount. Translate any technical language into tangible results that any layman can understand. Focus on the projects where you worked with others and demonstrated leadership. If you impacted the business or strategy of the company in your position, highlight those achievements.

Present Professionally

One of the first tasks you will approach in the MBA program is improving your resume, and you will revisit the exercise again and again during your two years of job searching. Give yourself a head start by writing your resume as if you are already an MBA candidate.

Many programs have online resume books that demonstrate the preferred format and design for MBA resumes. Keep your font simple and your resume to one clean page. And make sure you have checked thoroughly for typos!

Recruiters are an excellent source for resume tips. Check out this excellent guide from the Pinnacle Group.

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