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.
Latest posts by Michael Cohan (see all)
- 2017 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey – Win $500! - April 17, 2017
- Dartmouth Tuck Interview with MBA Associate Director Kristin Roth - August 30, 2016
- Wharton MBA Essay Questions 2016-2017 - August 1, 2016
- Chicago Booth MBA Essay Questions 2016-2017 - August 1, 2016
- MIT Sloan MBA Essay Questions 2016-2017 - July 23, 2016