Top 5 MBA Resume Mistakes

MBA Resume Mistakes

Your resume is a critical part of your business school applications. Are you making these 5 common MBA resume mistakes?

1. Too Vague.
What do you, personally, actually do? Phrases like “participated in” or “contributed to” are way too vague. Did you set up the conference call line and make copies? Or were you the person who analyzed all of the data, identified the business opportunity and delivered the winning pitch? Without specificity the admissions committee will suspect that you were in a supporting, collateral role.

2. Too Jargony.
Be super careful not to use jargon. Avoid overly technical terms, as well as terms that are specific to your firm or industry. You also want to stay away from trendy words like “over-rotate” and “vertical.”

3. No Activities.
Business schools want to see that you have a history of balancing work and school with community involvement. Your activities in college, as well as your current hobbies and volunteer activities are totally relevant. In fact, if you don’t list any activities they will assume that you don’t have any and worry that you won’t be engaged at business school, so be sure to include them. Also, it’s appropriate to list languages that you speak and interests like watching “Game of Thrones”– you want the schools to get a feel for your personality.

4. Too Modest.
It’s great to be collaborative and humble, but you need to sell yourself on your MBA resume. If your resume downplays your accomplishments the schools won’t understand what you bring professionally, and may well go with your seemingly more impressive peer.
Also, candidates sometimes assume that their recommenders will sing their praises for them. This is a huge mistake! Recommenders may or may not capture your seniority, progression and impact – but even if they do, business schools are also interested in your ability to sell yourself. They are evaluating your ability to get a job after business school, and will be concerned if your recommender sells your qualifications more effectively than you do.

5. Misrepresentations.
It should go without saying that you never want to exaggerate or misrepresent anything in your applications. Even small inaccuracies like rounding your GPA up from a 3.26 to a 3.3 or fudging dates of employment can undermine your credibility. Make sure that your resume is 100% accurate.

Your MBA resume is a powerful tool, and it’s worth investing the time to craft a document that reflects your potential and personality.


Karen Marks has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, MIT, Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern, Booth, NYU, Ross, UVA, Haas and more. Clients have been awarded more than $10.2 million in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into at least one of their top-choice schools.