Most MBA programs require a resume submission as part of the written application, and members of the admissions team have often told us that in their estimation, the resume is just as important as the essays.
This single-page document should highlight important aspects of the candidate’s career trajectory thus far, but applicants frequently miss this extra opportunity to stand out from their peers.
Keep in mind that the reader of your MBA resume has different expectations than the person hiring you for an investment banking job or an engineering position. When crafting this version of your resume, distill your experiences down to a few meaningful lines of text, regardless of whether you submit a stand-alone CV or transfer that information to the application.
Rather than focus on specifics, admissions representatives want to see skills that are transferable to almost any industry. Revise your resume to highlight aspects considered important to an MBA program, such as the fact that you collaborated with an international team, or developed and trained others on a new analysis technique.
Many applicants include an objective at the top of their resume. However, in the context of the MBA application process, everyone has the same objective: to go to business school. Thus, the mission statement is irrelevant and a waste of valuable real estate. Also, avoid a resume that’s chock-full of jargon; instead, use the same language as the admissions committee.
In addition to telling the chronological story of your academic and professional career, focus on supporting three things: demonstrating growth and progression, showcasing leadership and highlighting other “MBA relevant” skills. These include traits like strong teamwork, collaboration and innovation.
Demonstrate that over the course of your career, you have picked up new skills, assumed new responsibilities and developed as an individual. Emphasize that others have recognized this growth. If done effectively, the resume reviewer can develop a good grasp of your abilities and responsibilities and understand how you have progressed in your career.
It’s also important to note if you manage one or more people. Even if you informally supervise and mentor someone, it’s worth including on the resume. Mention if you’ve taken a lead in recruiting, as it means you’re acting as the face of your company. This demonstrates that leaders at your company respect you and trust that you will represent them well.
Never underestimate the power of a well-executed resume. And remember: resume details can also serve as icebreakers, or fuel the conversation during those business school interviews down the line.