Writing An Effective MBA Resume

career pile resume

Writing An Effective MBA Resume


By now, your professional resume reads like a literary masterpiece. You’ve whittled it down to a page, packing it with power verbs and results to certify your initiative and value. However, your resume trumpets more than your education, experience, and expertise. In many ways, it is like an attorney’s opening argument. Your format, along with what you highlight and exclude, sets a tone. And it conveys underlying code that shows employers if you’ll fit as much as if you’re qualified.

You’ve probably been warned to customize your resume for every job where you apply. The same advice applies to your MBA resume. Forget a cut-and-paste of your work resume, touched up with shards of copy that mimic some adcom’s blog post. “The MBA resume is quite different from a traditional business resume in that it should focus heavily on MBA skills and traits such as leadership, teamwork and international work experience,” writes Stacy Blackman, a leading business school consultant, in her latest U.S. News column.  “Admissions committee members often view the resume as one of the most important parts of an application, so think of it as a marketing and branding tool and make it shine while keeping it simple.”

How simple? Blackman draws this picture. “Imagine someone scanning an MBA application resume for the first time on the 30-second walk down the hall to the interview. That person should be able to get a clear picture of the candidate – and that quickly.”

So how do you make an impression in those fleeting seconds? First, as with any resume, quantify your accomplishments. “Admissions committees like to see results-oriented phrases in resumes,” Blackman writes, “so for every bullet point, try to quantify results in dollar amounts or percentages whenever possible. It is much more powerful to write that you “created a marketing plan that resulted in a 30 percent increase in leads,” as opposed to noting that you simply “created a marketing plan.”

To do that, Blackman recommends the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Result). Here, you provide a context (Sales fell 10 percent in 2013), identify a goal (Drive top line growth by 25 growth), deliver a strategy (Revised selling model, beefed up sales bonuses, and emphasized up-selling and cross-selling existing accounts), and report results (Boosted 2014 sales by 45 percent and beat quota by $3.2 million dollars).

Second, target your business school resume to what attracts adcoms. For example, Blackman encourages applicants to play up their soft skills over their technical abilities. “You do want to provide a snapshot of your functional skills, but the admissions committee will be more interested in the fact that you led a cross-functional team to develop a new version of your product than the fact that you coded in three computer languages to develop the new version.”

At the same time, your resume should reflect that you’re an upwardly mobile professional – one who is heading to business school to pursue a dream, not escape a bad situation. “If you have worked for the same company for five years but were promoted twice,” Blackman notes, “you should highlight all three job titles, with separate dates of employment and separate descriptions. The descriptions should reflect your increasing levels of responsibility.”

Finally, use the bottom of your resume to connect with an adcom by sharing something memorable. “The last couple lines of the MBA resume can highlight various interests and skills such as computer proficiency, second languages spoken or a love of travel,” Blackman adds. “This is also an opportunity for a personal touch by adding something fun that shows a bit of personality and can become an icebreaker during interviews.”


Source: U.S. News & World Report

This Week:


How To Get Into Business School With Little Work Experience

What Harvard Business School Is Asking MBA Candidates

Things To Know Before Starting Business School

Which Graduates Borrow The Most? It’s Not MBAs

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.