Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. LanguagePart 3. ContentPart 4. Structure
Your resume has the potential to be the single most important page of your application. Do you want to know why?
It is the only document that paints a holistic picture of your professional and academic background. This snapshot is important for giving the Admissions Committee (AdCom) an idea of who you are before they dive deep into your story.
Most schools have ‘blind’ interviews. This means your interviewer would have only read your resume before they meet you (‘non-blind’ interviews are ones in which the interviewer has seen your entire application. HBS and MIT have non-blind interviews).
Most candidates applying to business school haven’t had to make a resume for at least three or four years. Also, the last time they made a resume was when they were looking for a job. Here is what you need to look at to make sure your resume is business-school ready.
Punchy and accessible
Your resume should be direct. Don’t over explain or provide unnecessary detail about your background and experiences. For example, if you are listing language skills in your resume, English doesn’t need to be there.
Your entire application is in English, so the AdCom knows that you speak the language. However, it’s worth adding a language skills section if you have extraordinary language skills and are fluent in say six different languages.
Quantify the impact of your work as much as possible. Numbers speak louder than just words. For example, saying that you ‘grew the revenue of a business line’ is not as impactful as saying your ‘strategy led to a $15M increase in revenue in 6 months’.
Don’t use industry jargon
You never know what the background of your AdCom member will be. They might not be familiar with your industry. It is always good practice to write a resume that anyone with a general business background can understand.
Substance, not shine
Use adjectives where necessary, but don’t overdo it. Words such as ‘Led’, ‘Founded’, or ‘Created’ can create a lot of impact. However, you should avoid using adverbs as they rarely add value to a resume. Also, don’t just focus on your tactical day-to-day responsibilities when writing your resume.
Instead, focus on the impact that you had. When writing your resume, entire sentences are not necessary and words such as ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ aren’t always needed.
The AdCom is interested in seeing your career and leadership progression. This is especially true for applicants from industries that have non-traditional job titles. Engineering is one such industry. Be sure to highlight moments in your career when you assumed a leadership role and delivered results that were not expected from someone with your tenure.
Complement your essays
Your resume should not feel disjointed from your essays. For example, if one of your essays focuses on impact that you had during a particular project at your job, make sure that project is mentioned in your resume. Another example is when none of your essays focus on extra-curricular experiences. In such cases, you don’t want the AdCom to think you don’t have any extra-curricular experience so be sure to write about some in your resume.
Unless you are applying for an Executive MBA, make sure your resume is one page long. The AdCom doesn’t have a lot of time to read a lengthy two-page resume. You might have something interesting and impactful buried away in the second page. It’ll be a shame if the AdCom never gets to it.
Unless you are applying for a deferred admit, don’t focus on internships and college experiences
Unless there is a college experience that was extremely impactful, don’t mention it in your resume. There is a premium on real estate when you are drafting your resume. You are already listing the name of your institution and degree. Beyond, this make sure the college experiences you list are extraordinary. This of course, does not hold true for college seniors or graduate students applying to deferred MBA programs. Don’t worry about focusing on college experiences if you are a college senior or graduate student – you will be evaluated on a different set of criteria.
Stick to the basics
Choose a simple template that is easy to read, has enough space between lines, and uses a clean font. The font size you should choose will depend on the font itself, but you should use at least size 9 for most fonts. Also, don’t use elaborate or overdesigned templates that might be appropriate for marketing or design professions.
Do you think you can use a bit of help with your resume? Please check out our resume editing service for support with your business school resume.