Tips for Writing an MBA Resume
September is coming sooner than you think. That’s something to keep in mind if you hope to join the Class of 2018. You see, September is when the first round applications are due. And you know what they say: September submissions produce December admissions.
No, it isn’t that easy. However, applying in the first round gets you on admissions’ radar. It establishes that you’re ambitious and committed. By applying early, you can get a decision sooner. And that gives you time to either apply to a fallback school or fix gaps that doomed your previous submission. And let’s not forget scholarship dollars, which are more plentiful early.
Some experts will tell you that admission decisions are all about the almighty GMAT. But Chioma Isiadinso, co-founder of the admissions consulting firm Expartus, has a different view. A former Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard Business School, Isiadinso considers the resume to have major sway. “It’s actually the first thing that a lot of admissions [people] pick up,” she notes on a recent video. “So this is the introduction to who you are…Make sure that you make the right first good impression.”
BE SUCCINCT AND SELF-AWARE
According to Isiadinso, decision-makers may only spend a minute or two to review your resume. That’s why she encourages her clients to be strategic and succinct in constructing their resume. In her recent post, “12 Tips for Writing a Compelling MBA Resume,” she highlights that a successful resume must convey your accomplishments, qualifications, and personal brand. In other words, it is a persuasive device that builds a case for admitting you.
And that starts with the resume itself, which Isiadinso argues should be a page in length (unless a school tells you otherwise). She refers to it as a “calling card” that introduces a candidate. And to do that, the resume needs to quickly make its point. “Not every single project should it onto your resume,” she tells people in a YouTube video that goes along with her post. The same applies to extracurricular activities, she adds. To boost their resumes’ impact, she counsels clients to go through them “line-by-line,” removing anything that “wasn’t [your] best…or didn’t allow you “to showcase your leadership.” Isiadinso also encourages potential applicants to continuously ask themselves, “What’s missing,” to identify potential strengths to highlight and gaps to cover.
In developing a resume, knowing who you are and what a school is seeking is key. And that’s where personal branding comes into play. It is a differentiator, writes Isiadinso. “To build an effective MBA resume, you must know which skills you want to emphasize and why.” And once you’ve figured that out, Isiadinso reminds readers, you need to organize your resumes by your biggest strengths. “A resume isn’t simply a laundry list of accomplishments,” Isiadinso cautions. “…You can and should arrange information to show off your best differentiators first.”
CONVEY SOFT SKILLS WITHOUT RESORTING TO CLICHES
At the same time, a resume should pull of the ultimate Houdini act for MBAs: balancing hard and soft skills. Obviously, adcoms are combing through resumes to ensure candidates have the mathematical aptitudes to handle finance, accounting, and statistical components of courses, particularly for applicants who come from a liberal arts background. To convey these abilities, Isiadinso advocates listing quantitative coursework and information on “any research or analytical work that you have done.”
Conversely, considering the team-driven projects inherent to business school, applicants should also look for professional and extracurricular activities that reflect a team atmosphere. “Your resume should include examples of your success within teams,” Isiadinso writes, “both as a leader of a team and as a rank-and-file team member.”
Alas, you can’t proclaim on your resume that you’re a team player whose personal brand is predicated on being proactive and persuasive. But that fell out of fashion in the 1990s. These days, decision-makers are looking for you to back up your assertions. And one area where you can shirk subtly for bombast is with quantifying statistics regarding your work. “Take the time to count the number of new deals that you were responsible for, or the number of new clients you brought in, or the revenue growth that one of your projects generated,” Isiadinso writes. “If you can give them a simple, powerful statistic to remember about your work, it will work to your advantage.”
For additional advice on phrasing and formatting, along with examples of Isiadinso’s principles in action, click on the video or article below.
DON’T MISS: HOW TO STAND OUT IN THE APPLICATION PILE