Your resume is an integral part of your business school application. It is a summary of your work and volunteer experience, as well as your education.
Your MBA resume is also usually the first thing the admissions committee will look at, and serves as an introduction to you; so it’s imperative to make a lasting, positive impression.
Follow these 13 rules to create a resume that will give the adcom the best first impression of you possible:
1. Unless you have more than 10 years of work experience, keep your resume to one page.
The vast majority of top-tier business schools prefer one-page resumes. The only exceptions to this rule are having more than 10 years of work experience, or a major accomplishment that requires more space. Otherwise, do as the admissions committees prefer, and keep it to one page.
2. Make your qualifications summary the first thing on your resume.
This is the first thing the admissions officer will read and should highlight your most notable and remarkable experiences and accomplishments. Be sure that this summary is written in an easy to read format, like bullet points or by using bold text. This will draw your reader’s attention to your qualifications and achievements and make them want to learn more about you.
Things to include in your summary:
- A brief personal and/or career record. For example, receiving more than the expected number of promotions in a given time period.
- Highlights of your accomplishments. This may include a project that you initiated and successfully led.
- Things in your past that relate to the program you’re applying to. You can include anything that will set you apart from others applying for the same program.
3. Emphasize your achievements, not your responsibilities.
Don’t use up space repeating your job title as a responsibility. Analysts analyze and consultants consult. There is no reason to repeat this. Your resume will be much more impressive when you talk about what you achieved in your position.
4. Quantify the effect you’ve had on the businesses you’ve worked for, and be specific.
Incorporate information detailing how much or by how many you changed something. By what percentage did you increase sales? How many people did you supervise? Don’t say that you led a team, but let the admissions committee know that you were in charge of a 10-person team that increased sales by 30% in three months.
5. Emphasize your most recent experience.
You want to give your current position the most space. Remember that you want to keep your entire resume to one page, so keep your information to around four bulleted achievements. If your most recent position is relatively new, emphasize the achievements from the previous one. Hopefully you won’t have to go back more than one year to do this.
6. List the company name and dates of employment.
If you had promotions while at a given job, list these as bullet points under the company. Listing each one as a separate job detracts from the impact receiving promotions should get.
7. Stress leadership whenever you can.
Leadership is usually thought of as being in charge of a project. It can also manifest itself by being able to get others to work on a project that’s important to you. Think of the different ways that you exhibited leadership in each of your positions. Try to express your leadership in ways that benefit the company you worked for.
8. Leave high school in the past.
Unless you won an important award or had an exceptional achievement, don’t take up important space with high school activities.
9. Put work experience, and then educational information.
If you have more than two years of work experience, this should go before your education. There is no need to include your academic stats, as they are already on your application.
10. Use verbs to start every bullet point.
Verbs make you think of action and doing things. Use verbs like assist, support, provide, or contribute whenever possible.
11. Make your resume easy to read.
Sophistication is the key. This is not the place to show your individuality or personality. A traditional font, with a font size of 10-point or larger will be appreciated by the admissions committee.
12. Incorporate things that will set you apart.
Include awards, publications, professional licenses and organizations, and volunteer positions. Remember that your space is limited, so include only the most impressive ones.
13. Proofreading and editing are important.
Misspelled words and grammatical errors are definite no-nos. Don’t count on spell check to find your errors; after you have proofread and corrected your resume, ask a friend or
professional proofreader to review your resume. They may find mistakes that you missed.
Do you need help making your resume the one the admissions committee will remember? Learn more about how Accepted can help you write an outstanding resume by checking out their MBA resume Package.
Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, and Poets&Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.