“The first impression is the last impression.” This holds especially true for your MBA applications. The resume is the first thing the admissions committee will look at, before moving on to your other documents. It is important to ensure that this first impression lasts and a peep at your resume enthuses your application reviewer to look forward to the other sections.
Ideally, the resume should be a summary of all your professional accomplishments and highlights in one page. The resume gets less than a minute’s attention so all the salient features of your profile should be clearly evident. Every point should count and show the admissions committee the strengths of your profile. There are some basic guidelines for creating a winning MBA application resume. Let’s discuss them one by one.
- It needs to be easy on the eyes
The golden rule for creating a business school resume is that it should be easy to read and comprehend. Within a page, you also need to ensure ample white space. The design needs to be simple and unpretentious. The font needs to be simple too. No curvy snaky lettering please. Stick to a traditional style and use a font size of 10 minimum.
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- Limit it to one page
The only exception to this rule is that you have more than 8-10 years of work experience. While many schools will accept two page resumes but their preference clearly is for a one page. As an applicant, you do not want to subject them to lengthy prose and respect their time. With so many applications to go through, they will certainly appreciate the extra effort you made to make your profile summary as concise as possible.
- Avoid technical jargon
You are creating a resume for a business school application, not for a job change. Your resume needs to avoid all technical jargon, programs and skills that you might otherwise include in your resume if you were looking for a job switch in your industry. This is a meaningful synopsis of your professional history, progression and progress. It is the document that clearly showcases a connect between your work experiences and other experiences and your goals.
- Focus on accomplishments and impact
Career progression and impact on employer are what admissions committees are looking for. A simple description of job responsibilities won’t contribute to your cause. When your job title is descriptive of what your work is, why waste a bullet point in describing the work you do. For example, as an Operations Manager in a manufacturing plant, you are expected to oversee smooth operations and execution. Why write it down? Or if you’re a business analyst, it is implied that you analyze business problems and suggest solutions. No need to dedicate space to mention it separately. Quite simply, neither your job title nor the description of the work that you did will set you apart. What will is the kind of achievements and impact you had, while holding that position.
Quantify the impact you had with details. Include details. Quote figures if possible. If you helped save money for your company, by how much? If you generated revenue, saved money, saved time, arrested attrition, bought in repeat business- give details! How many people did you lead? what strategy did you adopt? Don’t be vague; be very specific. Give details.
- Highlight leadership
Many of you might argue about how to demonstrate leadership when you haven’t got a chance to be in a leadership position. Well, it’s not just about the position you hold and what you can formally do, its also about making use of each and every opportunity to value add to your employer.
Leadership can demonstrated in many different ways. You can be formally in-charge of a specific project to tangibly contribute. Or you can grab hold of an opportunity that presents itself to show that you have the potential. Almost always, leadership is about working well with people so leadership and team skills invariably go hand in hand. When you think about it in this way, you will realise that you will definitely have at least a few experiences to demonstrate your leadership, whether or not you’ve formally been in charge.
- Begin each bullet point with a verb
An action pact resume always packs the maximum punch. Don’t ever use the word ‘responsible’, rather begin your point with an actionable verb to show that you are a dynamic individual who is always in charge and ready for some action.
- Give the maximum importance to your most recent work experience
Devote maximum space to your most recent experiences; there’s a very good reason for this. Your current experience relates best with your post MBA goals and these are the very experiences that describe your present yourself. Use space for earlier stints judiciously and do not devote more than 2-3 bullet points for each one. If you’ve recently changed jobs and do not have much to speak about your current employer, then it’s fair to dedicate more space to the earlier experience. However, remember- the key is to talk about acievements and impact.
For the earlier stints, especially the ones right after college, don’t dedicate more than 2 bullet points to each one.
- Always put your educational experience after the professional experience
Your professional experience always comes first, especially if you have more than 2 years of full time professional experience upon graduating. Your most noteworthy and important experiences come first followed by the others in reverse chronological order followed by the Education section and then the additional like extracurriculars and interests.
- Finally, edit your draft and edit until you are satisfied that this is the best you can do to make each and every work say something about you.
A few common errors to avoid
- Writing extensive prose as if you’re writing your life history.
- Seeping onto a second page without good reason to do so.
- Making up stuff or fibbing.
- Including articles and pronouns which is a precious waste of words and space
- Using overused and clichéd terms like “ Dynamic self-motivated “ or “ multitasker”
- Over use action words
- Forget or botch the dates and timelines
- Provide irrelevant and personal information like marital status and birthday
- Including a separate line for “objective” at the beginning
- Using designs and fancy fonts