Many MBA candidates do not thoroughly consider and revise their resumes for their business school applications, often because an existing version may already be saved on their computer. We strongly caution you not to underestimate the value of this document—the admissions committees in fact review applicants’ resumes carefully, because they serve as a road map of each candidate’s career. In an earlier entry in our Admissions Myths series, I Need to Tell It All! (Part I), we highlighted that your resume is not the place to “stuff” all your life experiences. Somewhere between the two extremes—cramming your resume with information and ignoring it altogether—lies the ideal: a clear, easily scannable, action-/results-oriented resume, one that tells a story that will capture the attention of an admissions officer who has reviewed hundreds of similar files.
One of the most common errors candidates make is leaving their resume in an industry-specific format, filled with jargon and acronyms recognizable only to an expert in their field. Remember, the admissions committee is not hiring you for a task but is trying to understand your progress, accomplishments, and even your character. Each bullet point in your resume needs to highlight achievement more than positional expertise.
As you prepare your resume to be included in your application, think about your audience and recognize that your resume can be a strategic tool to reinforce certain characteristics that are important to you—characteristics that may complement information provided in other parts of your application. For example, if you aspire to a career that is international in nature, you may place more emphasis on your international experience in your resume. Or, if you come from a field that is not known for its management orientation—you were a teacher who administered a school’s $50,000 student activities budget, for example—you may use your resume to emphasize disciplines that are important to an MBA admissions audience.
Some candidates are surprised to realize that one page can communicate so much and therefore deserves a significant level of attention. Investing some time in this short but crucial document is definitely worth the effort.