In a blog post on MBA Application Components, I discussed the different parts of your MBA application, which includes an Employment History section and an MBA Resume. Here, I will answer some common questions about the MBA resume.
How is an MBA resume different from a job resume? You are addressing the MBA Evaluation Criteria which could be different from job criteria, especially if you have a technical resume. So, in an MBA resume you would be emphasizing promotions, accomplishments, leadership, and global impact in professional and community dimensions, and de-emphasizing maybe some of the technical aspects of your job that would be relevant to non-MBA employers, but not an MBA school or post-MBA employers.
Should a resume be one page or two pages? Certain schools like HBS allow two pages, while other schools like Wharton want a one page resume only. One guideline is for younger applicants to use only one page and executives two pages but this guideline can be tailored to the candidate’s professional experience, academic background, community service, etc.
What are the different sections of a resume? The core blocks of a resume are professional, academic and additional sections, although other sections can be added or substituted dependent upon the client background and resume length. For example, if an applicant has published articles then a publication section might be advisable to emphasize the candidate’s thought leadership. The Professional Experience section is usually broken down by organization containing name, employment dates, roles, and accomplishments. Remember to try to quantify the impact wherever possible in terms of dollar amount or percentages. If you saved your company money, how much? If you increased the efficiency of something, by what percent? This section can be organized functionally, if the applicant has similar job functions across multiple companies and wishes to highlight competencies. I advise clients to use the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, Result) for concisely explaining accomplishments. The Educational Background section contains institution attended, degree attained, year graduated, years attended, GPA (do not include if not high) and other information. This information can include extra-curricular activities (if not a separate section), internships (if not rolled into full-time positions), employment while attending school (a good reason for explaining lower grades) and other items. The Additional section can contain your community service (if not a separate section), certifications (if not a separate sections), awards (if not a separate section), hobbies and anything else relevant. You can see there is flexibility to label sections in a way which best positions your application.
Why is readability important and how do I make my resume more easily readable? Readers or interviewers will skim your resume and then drill down into the areas that interests them, so you should structure the resume in a compelling, but straightforward, manner. That means using logical hierarchies (bullets and sub-bullets), expressing similar ideas with parallelism in structuring items and bullets across the resume, avoiding multi-line descriptions, and maximizing white space wherever possible.
Finally, how do I make my resume standout? Reflect on the unique aspects of your professional background and ensure your resume captures this in a manner easy for the reader to glean. You are investing considerable time to ensure that the reader – who might only spend a few minutes reading your resume – forms the best impression of you possible. Therefore, use strong action words, prioritize the most powerful content first, and create unique sections to emphasize significance. If you have served on non-profit boards, create a section called non-profit board leadership. If you have considerable leadership experience, create either a separate leadership section for the overall resume or within each job.
In closing, whereas in the Employment History section, you answer the work-related questions the school asks, in the MBA Resume you have greater freedom to position the various parts of your background to best meet each school’s MBA Evaluation Criteria as long as you convey the overall professional, academic and additional information.
Economist GMAT Tutor employs adaptive technology (similar to the GMAT’s logic) to help students focus on their target areas in each section of the GMAT. Economist GMAT Tutor’s personalized learning includes private tutoring sessions with expert, accredited tutors. Students can also send messages to tutors while using the course, and keep track of their progress on a customized student dashboard. The course has helped over 80,000 students achieve their best GMAT score.
Students can study online from their homes or offices or with the iPhone app.
NEW YORK, June 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – The Economist announced today the launch of an iPhone app called GMAT Tutor (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-economist-gmat-tutor/id630426298), which allows students to prepare for the GMAT by focusing on their individual learning needs. The app was developed in co-operation with Mindojo (an Israeli technology start-up) and offers approximately 100 hours worth of content and over 5,000 practice questions. GMAT Tutor employs patent-pending artificial intelligence so the more time students spend learning with the program, the more customized it becomes.
”Future MBAs are on the go, so we wanted to provide an intuitive prep tool that fitted with their lives,” said Isaac Showman, vice-president at The Economist and general manager of Economist Education. “GMAT Tutor combines cutting-edge adaptive learning technology with the portability of an iPhone. The app has a conversational, almost human tone, and for students around the world, the best GMAT instructor they can find is probably in their pocket.”
Access to GMAT Tutor is free for 7 days after which students can pick between two learning plans priced between $475 and $695. Support is offered via a global team of GMAT instructors who are available to answer questions via in-app messaging or live video chats.
The iPhone app is supported by an online version (http://gmat.economist.com) which provides extra features such as full-length Computer Adaptive Testing GMAT practice tests, essay support, and customized progress reports.
The Economist is backing GMAT Tutor’s courses with a comprehensive improvement guarantee. If students’ GMAT scores don’t improve by at least 50 points (or 70 for the advanced program) they will receive a full refund for the course. The Economist plans to release an Android version of GMAT Tutor over the summer.
About GMAT Tutor (http://gmat.economist.com)
GMAT Tutor is an online GMAT preparation course that uses adaptive technology to focus on a student’s areas that need the most improvement. This online service offers a personalized curriculum to covers every aspect of the GMAT exam along with over 5,000 practice questions. The course plans also include practice exams, essay marking and one-to-one online sessions with expert GMAT instructors.
About The Economist (www.economist.com)
With a growing global circulation (now 1.5 million including both print* and digital) and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read current affairs publications. The paper covers politics, business, science and technology, and books and arts, concluding each week with the obituary. Its website (www.economist.com) offers articles from the past ten years, in addition to web-only content such as blogs, debates and audio/video programmes. The Economist is now available to download for reading on Android, iPhone, or iPad devices.
IESE has announced its MBA Essay Questions.
MBA Essay Questions
(IESE’s questions remain the same as last year and encompass a standard goals, accomplishment, and failure question along with an open-ended question that gives applicants an opportunity to fill in the gaps.)
1. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals (Post MBA). (300-word maximum)
2. Describe two substantial accomplishments and one failure in a professional or private endeavour. (600-word maximum)
3. I wish that the application had asked me… (200-word maximum)
London Business School has released its MBA Essay Questions .
MBA Essay Questions
LBS has reduced the number of questions from six questions to three questions.
1. What will your future look like after completing your MBA? (500-word maximum)
(More open-ended then last year’s question. Candidates have room to be more creative but should still chart a career path that logically makes sense and shows some alignment with their background and goals.)
2. What value will you add to London Business School? (300-word maximum)
(This question is more open-ended then last year’s question about showing impact on just student clubs and campus community events. Candidates have an opportunity to show broader impact – say in an academic context – as well as both as students and alumni.)
3. What is the School’s responsibility to you and what is your responsibility to the School? (400-word maximum)
(This is new question is also open-ended. Applicants will most likely frame their answers in terms of values and ethics.)
What are the different components of an MBA application? These include general information, academic background (test scores included), employment history (resume included), extracurricular activities/community service, awards, essay questions other questions, the application fee, and recommendations. Schools might not ask for all of the information covered here or ask for the information as broken down in these sections.
At the beginning of the online application the school gathers general information about your application, personal and family background.
Application information could consist of desire to apply for merit fellowships, academic focus, intention to pursue a dual degree, future experience (industry and functional area of summer internship and post-MBA employment), whether you have previously applied to the program, contact with the school (admissions representatives, faculty, alumni, or students) and miscellaneous questions about disciplinary action from prior academic institutions and prior criminal convictions.
When filling out this section you wish to have your academic focus, intention to pursue a dual degree and future experience align with your goals essay questions (and the rest of the application). If you have applied previously to the school make sure you follow the reapplicant instructions. Having specific names in the contact with the school section is viewed positively because of the demonstrated effort in learning about the school and the higher perceived likelihood of the applicant attending the program if accepted. This is one of the reasons I encourage candidates to visit the school, attend information sessions and perform outreach to faculty, alumni and students.
Personal data includes information about how to contact you (name, address, email, telephone), biographical (gender, ethnicity, date of birth, country of origin and native language), citizenship (primary and dual), legal state residency (if applying to a public state school), social security number (if a domestic applicant), where you grew up, language fluency (languages other than your native language and fluency per language), and international experience (work, study, and travel).
Your gender and ethnicity determine if you are in any underrepresented minority groups. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, legal state residency is factored into admissions (schools prefer not to have an overwhelming number of applicants from any one region) and if you are eligible for in-state tuition (if the school is a public state school). If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, then your country of origin determines your applicant group (and its competitiveness). Language fluency and international experience are part of your global profile used by MBA Admissions Committees in evaluating your candidacy.
Family background encompasses the name, occupation, degrees obtained, location and deceased status of each parent as well as whether you are married, have children and whether any of your relatives are alumni of the university.
Per the MBA Evaluation Criteria, MBA Admissions Committees gauge your academic capability from your educational background and test scores.
The Education section asks the applicant to list every undergraduate and graduate institution attended, location (city, state, country), dates attended, level of study (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate), GPA, major, degree and date degree was awarded.
There is also a place to upload academic transcripts for each of these institutions. Schools not only factor your GPA (or % for certain foreign students), but also the difficulty of school, degree, major, and classes as well.
All applicants are required to submit a valid GMAT or GRE score that was taken within the past five years. Schools ask for the date taken (or will be taken), total score and percentage as well as score and percentage for the quantitative, verbal, AWA sections. If given a choice between the two exams, I advise candidates to test for the GMAT because schools have a track record with the exam. Candidates with GRE scores fall into one of several buckets: (1) have an advanced degree and took the GRE as part of the application process for that advanced degree, (2) are applying for a dual degree and need the GRE as part of the application process for the other program or (3) are applying from a developing nation where the exam is cheaper.
Almost all schools only look at your highest score so you should not worry about the number of times you take the test even if a school asks; some schools like Tuck look at two scores taking the highest quantitative and verbal score from each test. Most schools desire an 80% or higher quantitative score to prove you can handle the quantitative rigors of the coursework.
International candidates must take the TOEFL exam unless they have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate program in which English was the only language of instruction. Schools ask for the date taken (or will be taken), total score as well as your score for each section. MBA Admissions Committees use the TOEFL along with your essays and interviews, to assess your English proficiency.
Schools ask overall employment questions, such as how many months of post-college full-time work experience you will have upon enrolling and to explain any employment history gaps.
Schools also ask for information about each employer: organization name, location, description, position title(s) (as well as promotions), dates employed, direct/indirect reports, compensation (beginning and ending), bonuses, responsibilities, industry, job function, hours worked per week, supervisor name and reason for change. Some schools ask additional questions, such as greatest achievement and/or challenge. One workaround for severe word or character limitations for the responsibilities section is to list multiple positions (or roles) as separate items (unless otherwise instructed in the application).
Almost all schools provide a place for you to upload your resume or CV, usually allowing up to 2 pages. A rule of thumb is that executives use two pages and younger full-time applicants use one page, but this rough rule of thumb depends upon the applicant’s depth and breadth of experience and the word or character limitations throughout the online application.
Resumes comprise professional, education, and additional components, but other sections can be added or substituted dependent upon the candidate and whether the resume is one or two pages. For instance, if a candidate has written articles in multiple publications, then a publications section would highlight the applicant’s thought leadership. Your resume provides MBA Admissions Committees with a quick way to glean your promotions, accomplishments, leadership, and global impact in professional and community dimensions; your academic background and personal characteristics – all important MBA Evaluation Criteria.
For advice on creating a powerful resume and answers to common questions, read MBA Resumes.
Extracurricular Activities/Community Service
This section is labeled different things but comprises your collegiate extracurricular and post-collegiate community service activities. Often you are instructed to list these in order of importance.
Schools will ask for the organization name, description, and location; your dates and frequency of participation; and your role, description of role and whether that role was elected or appointed. When filling out this section remember the MBA Evaluation Criteria and seek to demonstrate promotions, impact, leadership, teamwork, a global element and other characteristics valued by MBA Admissions Committees.
List your awards in order of importance if the schools do not otherwise instruct you. Indicate the date, describe the selection criteria, and the selectivity of the award (if this positions you favorably). Include publications and certifications as well. The awards section shows impact – one of the criteria MBA Admissions Committees use to evaluate your candidacy.
If there is not a separate section for awards make sure to list all of your academic, professional and community service awards in the appropriate sections within the online application (Academic Background, Employment History, and Extracurricular Activities/Community Service).
Schools ask a variety of essay questions pertaining to career goals, school fit (or contribution), personal background, leadership, failure, optional information and more creative types that involve video or PowerPoints.
When addressing these questions remember that your essays complement the rest of your application. So, do not provide redundant information found elsewhere in the application. Also, contextualize your essay answers to your overall positioning with respect to the MBA Evaluation Criteria. Finally, given the essay word limits, MBA Admissions Committees are implicitly testing you on your ability to effectively and concisely communicate your ideas
In a future blog post, I will write in a separate blog post about how to best approach the essays, write effective Business English and tackle common question types.
Schools can ask a range of other questions, such as how you will finance your MBA (included in this is whether your company will be sponsoring your MBA studies) or to describe a personal hobby. You will also often be asked to sign an Honor Code as well.
Schools charge application fees ranging from $75 to $250 that must be paid with a valid credit card. Applicants can request waivers for a variety of reasons ranging from active duty U.S military or U.S. veteran status to current employment by the Peace Corps or Teach for America. If you wish an exemption, make sure to check the specific policies for each school.
Schools generally ask for two recommendations from individuals who can speak directly about your managerial ability and professional promise. MBA Admissions Committees prefer that one recommendation comes from your direct supervisor and usually requests a statement of explanation if you are not able to do so. The other recommendation should be from another former supervisor, someone senior to you, or at least a person who has a direct stake in the quality of your work, such as a client or board member of a non-profit you run. The recommender’s title or position is unimportant relative to that person’s ability to remark insightfully about you substantiated by specific examples. If you are in college or a recent college graduate you may include an academic recommendation, but recommendations from the workplace or community service are usually superior except for in certain circumstances. Stanford GSB asks for a third recommendation from a peer. This recommendation can come from someone on a project or team in your community service, professional, extracurricular or other activities. Just like you did when selecting your other recommenders, choose a person who can remark insightfully about you substantiated by specific examples.
In a future blog post, I will discuss MBA Recommendation Strategy which includes how to optimally select and approach recommenders.
The MBA interview is an opportunity for you to showcase your communication skills, career focus, school fit, gravitas, likeability and more. If you are an international applicant, MBA Admissions Committees will assess your English-language capabilities. For most top schools, the MBA interview is invite only. However, at some programs like Kellogg, candidates schedule interviews off-campus or on-campus. Some schools like Wharton combine team-based discussion with several other applicants and a brief one-on-one interview.
In a future blog post, I will discuss how to best prepare for your MBA Interview.
Cambridge Judge has released its MBA Essay Questions following up from its MBA Admissions Deadlines announced last month.
MBA Essay Questions
1. What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200-word maximum)
(Same question as last year.) This question is your traditional failure question with the twist of “spectacular failure”. This sets up a rhetorical burden to describe a failure of consequence and not something trivial. The MBA Admissions Committee is looking for applicants who learn from their mistakes and apply this learning to greater results. Also, one indication of an applicant’s career progression and risk taking is that the applicant has experienced a significant failure.
2. What are your short and long term career objectives? What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them? What do you hope to gain from the degree and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have? (500-word maximum)
(Same question as last year.) This is the standard goals question.
3. If you could change one thing about your current organisation, what would you make different? How would you overcome obstacles to this change, and what impact would this change have in the short-term and long-term? (300-word maximum)
(Same question as last year.) I like this question. The MBA Admissions Committee is looking to assess your strategic vision and mindset.
Visit Judge MBA Admissions for more detail.
Texas McCombs has announced its MBA Essay Questions following up from its MBA Admissions Deadlines released last month.
MBA Essay Questions
1. Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2016. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include any personal and/or professional aspects that you believe to be significant. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.
- Write an essay (250 words)
- Share a video introduction (one minute)
- Share your about.me profile
(This question is a new question. Similar to other schools like Kellogg, McCombs is offering a video option which might suit candidates with excellent communication skills.)
2. In the Texas MBA program we value our tight-knit and highly collaborative culture. Outside of your professional goals, please discuss why you are a good fit with the Texas MBA program and how you intend to impact the Texas MBA community? (250 word-maximum)
(This question was asked last year as a shorter 200 word question. Candidates should do their research on McComb’s various program, club, etc. and envision how they will impact McCombs and how they fit with McCombs.)
3. What do you hope to gain from your Texas MBA experience? How do you expect to develop, both personally and professionally, during the Texas MBA program? (250 words)
(This question has been considerably shortened from last year’s 800 word question with “personally” being added to “professionally”.)
Please provide any additional information to the Admissions Committee that you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (200 words)
For example, if your standardized test scores are not exactly what you would like them to be or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (i.e. calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting, or finance), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum. Discuss any unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or any significant weaknesses in your application or extenuating personal circumstances that you think may impact your candidacy.
Visit McCombs MBA Admissions for more information.
Duke Fuqua has released its MBA Essay Questions following up from its MBA Admissions Deadlines published last month.
MBA Essay Questions
Answer all 3 questions. For each short answer question, respond in 250 characters only (approximately 50 words).
What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
What are your long-term goals?
Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
(The short answer question remains the same from last year.)
The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.
In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.
(This essay question remains the same from last year.)
2. When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.
Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.
(This essay question remains the same from last year.)
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).
Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
Limit your response to two pages.
Visit Fuqua’s MBA admissions for more information.
Georgetown McDonough has posted its MBA Essay Questions following up from its recently published MBA Admissions Deadlines.
MBA Essay Questions
Tuck asks common essay types of goals, leadership, failure, optional and reapplicant essay questions.
1. A: What is your short-term goal following graduation from the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program? What skills are you seeking to develop or improve upon in order to reach your goals? (500 word-maximum)
B: What is your long-term career goal? (100-word maximum)
(This essay question is unchanged from last year.)
2. Answer either A or B. (750 word-maximum)
A. Describe a global business challenge and its relevance to your post-MBA career.
B. Describe yourself both personally and professionally and how you will contribute to the Georgetown McDonough community. (This essay question remains unchanged from last year.)
(These two questions are unchanged from last year)
3. Why do you want to attend the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program? Tell us in tweet format*. (140 character-maximum) (This essay question remains unchanged from last year.)
1. If you are not currently employed full-time, use this space to provide information about your current activities. (250-word maximum) (This essay question remains unchanged from last year.)
2. Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500-word maximum) (This essay question remains unchanged from last year.)
1. How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. In addition, please update the Admissions Committee on your short-term career goals following graduation from the Georgetown MBA program. (This essay question remains unchanged from last year.)
For more information visit Georgetown McDonough’s admissions website.
Cornell Johnson has released its MBA Essay Questions following up on the announcement of its MBA Admissions Deadlines in June.
MBA Essay Questions
Johnson asks common essay types of goals and leadership along with a creative essay question that allows applicants to express different dimensions of their candidacy.
1. “Who you are” You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book. Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity. (300-word limit) (The word count has been reduced from 400 to 300 words putting an even greater premium on conciseness.)
2. “Who you turned out to be”
- When did you decide that business school was the next step for you? (Was this an epiphany or an evolutionary process? What was the catalyst that caused you to consider this next step?) (150-word limit)
- Johnson values people that make things happen for themselves. Give an example of how you have initiated this for yourself. (150-word limit)
- Please describe your immediate post MBA career goals. (150-word limit)
(This question is changed from last year combining aspects of career goals and leadership MBA essay questions. The first reflective question gives applicants the opportunity to discuss MBA school in terms of professional and personal arcs and within a longer term vision or aspiration. While the second question allows candidates to discuss leadership and impact. The third question is the traditional career question asking about short-term goals (and presumably alignment with Cornell Johnson’s program).
Visit Cornell Johnson’s admissions website for more information.