Customizing Your Resume For MBA Applications

All MBA applications require a resume. You may be thinking: “No problem, I already have a resume.” Unfortunately, it is not that easy. A business school resume differs from a professional one. These resumes accomplish two different goals. For a professional resume, you want to show potential employers that you have the specific skills and experiences they are looking for. You are selling your ability to do the job. For an MBA resume, on the other hand, you want to show how you have been successful and demonstrated leadership. You are selling your future potential.

So, what does that all mean? Here are the key differences and our tips for optimizing your business school resume! 

Bonus, by focusing on your resume NOW, you will have one less thing to do when essay questions are released this spring and summer. 

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  1. Do not outline your job description

Too often I read resume bullets that list a candidate’s tasks and responsibilities. This might be great for proving you can do a specific job, but does nothing to differentiate you from other applicants. Anyone in your role could copy and paste these bullets from the job description. Admissions committee members do not need to know every detail of your job and what specifically it entails. Instead, think about your key accomplishments and highlights. What initiatives did you lead? What projects did you succeed in? How did you go above and beyond in your role? How did you excel, particularly in relation to your peers? Focus on the highlights. It is ok to leave some things you worked on out, especially if they wouldn’t sound impressive to someone outside of your company.  

  1. Include results!

Learnings, takeaways and results are the most important items to include in your business school resume. This can and should include both personal growth over time and your impact on business performance. The more specific and measurable your results are, the better. Think of items such as increased performance 30% over previous year or drove $1M in new business through x, y, z. 

  1. Minimize industry jargon

In a professional resume, the reader is much more likely to be familiar with the industry and wants to know the details and specifics about your relevant experience. It matters to them which tools you used and industry buzzwords are key. However, the terms you regularly discuss at the office may be foreign to others, including admissions committee members. When in doubt, do not assume the reader is familiar with everything about your job. Focus on language that is more general and easier to use to compare you to other applicants. Admissions committee members do not need or want all of the technical details anyway!  

  1. Show multiple aspects of your profile

Successful business school students are active outside of work: in their communities, in athletics, with organizations, etc. They have hobbies or specific language skills. They won awards or earned certifications. They got involved on their campuses or at work outside of the scope of their jobs. These details are important to show readers another aspect of your candidacy. However, keep in mind quality over quantity! A laundry list of activities or an organization you volunteered with once won’t help (and including such might even hurt your creditability.) 


Personal MBA Coach is here to help! If you would like individual and personal support, please find information about Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive packages or contact me to learn how I can help!  

As an MIT Sloan BS graduate and Wharton MBA grad, I have been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 10 years.

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