Crafting A Remarkable MBA Resume

Unlike your application essays, which will receive a good amount of attention, your resume will probably get less than a minute of the adcom’s time. So why bother spending valuable time working to perfect it?

Ever hear of the importance of a first impression?

The adcom members reviewing your file may just spend several seconds reviewing your resume, but it’s in those few instants that they are likely to develop that crucial first impression of you as a person, an employee, and, most importantly, a potential business school student at their school.

Now, less than 60 seconds is not a lot of time to make a lasting, positive impression, which is why it is in fact crucial that you bother spending precious time perfecting your MBA application resume.

Your goal should be to create a powerful, dynamic resume that will enable you to sail through an adcom member’s initial quickie screening process and earn your outstanding qualifications the closer look they deserve. Furthermore, your resume should complement the other components in your application to help show that you are a sought-after, capable, and compelling candidate.

Here are a few tips to help you create a resume that will get the adcoms thinking, “Hey, I’d like to learn more about this one!”

  1. Include your strongest material at the top of your resume. Think of the first couple of inches of your resume as your “primetime” space and put your most impressive qualifications and achievements here.
  2. Use vivid details when describing your impact on the organizations you’ve worked for. Don’t just say where you worked or list responsibilities. Provide details of accomplishments and contributions. Illustrate your impact with concrete numbers.
  3. Try and stick to a one-page resume. Remember, the adcom members don’t have time to sift through more than a single page when they’ve got a whole application ahead of them.
  4. Be as thorough, but as concise as possible. You have a lot of information to convey, yet don’t want to take up too much space for each position you held or accomplishment you achieved. Steer clear of long-winded paragraphs and stick to short bullets. Reduce space spent on old jobs and activities.
  5. Don’t make things up. Not only is it unethical, but you’ll likely get caught and dinged for it.
  6. Don’t include personal data. Frankly, the adcom doesn’t care if you are married or 6’3.
  7. Edit, edit, and then edit some more. This is your first impression—don’t present something sloppy.

For more advice on perfecting your MBA application resume, please see MBA Resume 101.

By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of, the leading MBA admissions consultancy, and co-author of the new book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.  Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.

Our Series on the Essentials of an Awesome MBA Application

Part I: The GMAT

Part II: Grade Point Average

Part III: Extracurricular Experience

Part IV: Work Experience

Part V: Leadership

Part VI: MBA Goals

  • It’s OK provided that all your schools have the same length requirement and the school doesn’t require some specific format (most do not have a specific format). Many allow up to 2 pages although they prefer 1, but Wharton (among others) specifies a 1-page resume.


  • Emil Philip

    Hi Linda,

    I have a question regarding resumes.

    Is it okay to have one resume for all b school applications? Is there any specific format to look at for each school?

    Please advise.

    Emil Thomas Philip

  • Rusty

    I am a consultant with 15 years experience working with 13 different companies. Five years ago I recognized the problem with the number of companies on my resume so I started a business. All work from that point on was done under that business. However, even though I can consolidate the last five years under one business, I have played multiple roles.

    For a work resume I have always operated on two principals: remove unrelevant and short term work, and the effectiveness of a one-page resume is a myth. There is nothing that says “I am the man for the job” better than a 10 page resume with concise bullet points, tailored specifically for the job. I have 15 years of continued work to prove it.

    The business school I am wanting to attend specifically said to not leave anything out. You suggest a one-page resume. These don’t work well together. I could do it by leaving out 50% of my experience or using a font size of 4. Neither seem like a good idea.

    How would you suggest structuring a resume like this?

    Should the resume be work experience only; drop the summary and education sections? Doing so would take off a little. Any work experience over 7-8 years old is already just summarily mentioned. I have removed any paragraphs describing roles and duties, though these are good when you play multiple roles and the manager is asking what’s going on.

    In my business I am owner, accountant/bookkeeper, account manager, marketing manager, project manager, and programmer. The last two are what I am actually doing day-to-day to pay for the roof over my head and food in my kids’ mouths. But doing the other roles are what brought me to wanting to go to business school.

  • Good question. Not all the following will apply to you, but here are a few ways that an MBA resume will differ from many job resumes.

    1) Your MBA resume should focus on business savvy and bottom line impact as opposed to technical skills or feats. 

    2) Bschools really want a maximum one-page resume.

    3) Don’t merely describe job responsibilities; bring out achievement and contribution — ways in which you excelled.

    For some applicants, the job resume and the application resume will be very similar and for some it will be very different. Here are a few more tips: .

    There are sample resumes in MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


  • Aster1333

    need a sample resume.. i really don’t understand the difference between a resume for MBA admission and a resume for Job interview..