Being considered for an MBA program isn’t an entirely dissimilar process from the everyday job interview. In fact, the admissions committee is likely looking for some of the same qualities in prospective students as an employer might be in their job candidates: Dedication, experience (both academic and professional), work ethic, and evidence that the person they’re considering can stand up to the challenges at hand.
As such, preparing your resume for the MBA application process requires the same level of attention and clarity. The obvious points like “use proper grammar” and “proofread extensively for typos and spelling mistakes” certainly apply, but there are a number of other tips that can help you create a resume that will make you stand out as an MBA candidate.
Preparing Your Resume – Top 5 Tips
When writing a resume, it’s sometimes easy to focus strictly on the main functions you performed for each previous employer. Instead, examine the results of your actions to explain what your role entailed. This establishes the unique contribution that you made to the organization. For example, stating that one of your ongoing tasks was to, “oversee Employer X’s financial accounts” might not be near as impactful as, “oversee Employer X’s financial accounts, ensuring compliance, compiling monthly reports, and identifying gaps in operational efficiency”. The second phrasing makes much clearer that the applicant understood their greater impact on their employer’s processes. Additionally, the admissions committee will have a much better idea of what professional experience you already have.
Focus on Simplicity, Specificity
Overly enthusiastic adjective use and otherwise superlative language can be distracting. Claiming to have prepared an “exhaustive” series of reports or lead a “massive” project might sound impressive, but it doesn’t offer the admissions committee any insight into what you’ve actually done. “Massive”, after all, can mean different things in different settings. Removing these adjectives can help you create room to explore your specific contributions in greater detail. Also, keep in mind that, if the results you drove can be quantified, numbers and metrics speak much louder than adjectives.
Include All Relevant Experience
Candidates don’t necessarily need to include every job they’ve held, but if there’s anything from a given position that complements your work history, it should certainly be included. This applies to anything from professional certifications you’ve earned to other workshops or continuing education you may have completed. If a past position doesn’t help readers get a picture of your relevant abilities, then it doesn’t have to be included. Consider carefully what experiences may help you stand out from the rest of the candidates.
Don’t Go Overboard on Visual Effects
While, in the current job market, it’s popular to use creative means of making a resume stand out from others, this isn’t necessary for most MBA programs. These unique presentation methods might help garner the attention of employers, but when it comes to MBA admissions, everything you submit will be closely reviewed by default. Ultimately, candidates will stand out most as a result of their experiences. Your submission should certainly be organized and professional, but there’s no need to focus on custom formats or individualized font choices to make your materials stand out. A qualified applicant’s resume will be reviewed by the admissions team.
Keep Things Brief
This may seem to be in contradiction to the previous point, but brevity is helpful. Admissions committee members, depending on the size of the program, might be inundated with materials from prospective students. Keep this in mind when preparing a resume for MBA applications. A 5-page, comprehensive resume may not be the best way to draw attention to the experiences that you’d like to highlight. Using the tips above will help you condense your materials into a simple, effective, immediately understandable package.