Tips on Revising Your Resume for Your MBA Application

MBA ResumeIn preparing your resume to be submitted with your business school application, your overall goal is to create a document that showcases your major accomplishments and career progress for the admissions committee in an effective and compelling way. Your resume is an important opportunity to tell your professional story—and to some degree, even your personal one—in a concise form. We strongly caution you not to underestimate the value of this document. The admissions committees actually review applicants’ resumes carefully, so you want yours to be simple and consistent in style while being powerful in substance.

One of the most common errors that MBA candidates make is leaving their resume in an industry-specific format, full of jargon and acronyms recognizable only to an expert in their field. Remember, the schools are not hiring you for a job but are trying to develop an understanding of your progress, accomplishments, and even character. Each bullet point in your resume must highlight achievement over positional expertise.

Start your revision process by recognizing that your resume can be a strategic tool in reinforcing or emphasizing certain characteristics that you feel are important for the admissions committee to know to be able to evaluate you fully and fairly—and that may complement information provided in other parts of your application. For example, if you aspire to a career that is international in nature, consider placing more emphasis on your international experience in your resume. Or, if you come from a field that is not known for its management orientation—perhaps you are a teacher, for example—you can use your resume to highlight accomplishments that may resonate with an MBA admissions audience, such as having administered a school’s $50,000 student activities budget.

Make sure that you are showcasing your accomplishments, not merely stating responsibilities. When only your duties are outlined—with no accompanying results—the admissions reader has no understanding of whether you were effective in your position or your endeavors. For example, consider the following entry, in which only responsibilities are offered:

2013–Present Brand Manager, Household Products Group, Flocter & Gramble, Cincinnati, Ohio

Responsible for managing a $10M media campaign, supervising a staff of five junior brand managers, monitoring daily sales volumes, and ensuring the consistent supply of product from five production facilities in three countries.

The person reading this description is left wondering, “Was the media campaign successful? Did the staff of five progress? Did sales volumes increase? Did the supply of products reach its destination?” But when this one large bullet point is instead broken down into individual bulleted entries that elaborate on each task and show clear results, the reader learns not just about the candidate’s responsibilities but also about his/her effectiveness and successes:

2013–Present Brand Manager, Household Products Group, Flocter & Gramble, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Initiated $10M television/Internet “Island Vacation” promotion introducing new Shine brand detergent, surpassing first-year sales targets within three months.
  • Mentored and supervised five junior brand managers, all of whom were ultimately promoted to brand manager (company traditionally promotes only 25%).
  • Analyzed daily sales volumes and identified opportunity to increase price point in Midwest, resulting in 26% margin improvement and $35M in new profits.
  • Secured “safety supply” of vital chemicals from alternative suppliers, ensuring 99% order fulfillment.

By comparing the first Flocter & Gramble entry with the second, you can see how much more powerful and illuminating an accomplishment-driven resume is than one that simply states responsibilities.

Ideally, your resume should be only one page long; admissions committees generally expect and appreciate the conciseness of this format. If you choose to submit a two-page or longer resume, your reader may have difficulty scanning it and identifying (and remembering) important facts. With these space constraints in mind, we offer two fairly straightforward “space saver” ideas:

  • Do not include a mission statement at the beginning of your resume. Your mission in this case is to get into the MBA program to which you are applying—and of course, the admissions committee already knows this!
  • Only your name should appear at the top of your resume. You do not need to include your address, email address, gender, or marital status, because this data will already be provided in your application form.

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