Posted on November 25, 2015

Useful Tips to Craft an Effective MBA Résumé

Useful Tips

Résumé is a critical part of the MBA applications, yet it is often the most neglected one. Unfortunately, some applicants ignore résumé and focus all their attention on essays—your résumé demands as much of your attention as your essays do. Résumé is your first introduction to the Ad Com, so it should be impactful enough to make them want to know more about you through your essays. When working with applicants on their résumés, I often quote Ross Admission Director Soojin Kwon. “For me, the résumé is just as important as your essays…….How you describe your experience matters. What you choose to highlight matters. Think of it as a trailer of the movie about you. It needs to show there is substance there. I find that many applicants don’t take enough care with their resume.” Kwon said.

True!! Your résumé is a “trailer “of your career progression, accomplishments, leadership and team working skills, your interests, and extra-curricular activities that will be shown in detail in the “movie” of your essays. Therefore, to make a good ‘first impression,’ you need to invest your time and effort to make your résumé strong and impactful.

Here are some helpful tips you can use to craft a powerful and effective MBA résumé.

1. Keep it Short and Sweet: First, resist the temptation of writing a lengthy résumé. It’s about quality, not quantity, so make sure not to go over the one-page limit. Most schools want to see only one-page résumés. (if you have more than 10 years of work experience, you may go over 1 page) The résumé should be the shortest document in your application. Still, the most impactful one provides an overview of your professional career and accomplishments and your interests and extra-curricular activities. Please use 10 or 11 font and do not try to squeeze in loads of information using 8 font.

2. Include Important Dates: When listing job positions, sometimes applicants forget to mention employment dates. Without specific dates, the Ad Com will not garner your career progression and promotions. Therefore, you want to make sure to provide specific information about your employment, education, and extra-curricular activities.

3. Use Bulleted Points: Even if you have a lot of information to convey, please refrain from writing sentences or paragraphs. Instead, use bulleted points. Each bullet should be limited to two text lines, and there should be no more than five bullets per job position. You may use 2 bullet points for listing job responsibilities and 2-3 for job accomplishments.

4. Do not use Fancy Fonts: Typical fonts for a resume are Times New Roman, Verdana, Cambria, and Arial, with Times New Roman being the most common. The business résumé is not the place to use fancy fonts. So resist the temptation of using crazy fonts or intricate borders.

5. Do Not Use Jargon: One of the most common mistakes applicants make is using their industry's technical terms. Do not assume that Ad Com will understand your industry jargon. This is not a job resume that you are writing for your prospective employer. This is your MBA resume scanned by the Ad Com of business schools for career progression, leadership qualities, team- working skills, initiative, and other interests/activities of future business leaders. Hence you want to make sure to make it jargon-free. The following example is jargon-free:

Example: Created and implemented new checklists and guidelines, helping reduce the projects' cost by 10-15%.

6. Use Strong Verbs: Begin each bullet point with a strong action verb. Verbs make you sound like a dynamic individual who is always ready for action. Also, try to avoid overusing verbs like ‘led,’ ‘managed’ or ‘developed,’ and consider using other verbs such as ‘accelerated,’ ‘delivered,’ ‘established,’ ‘implemented,’ ‘initiated,’ or ‘spearheaded’ etc. Use verbs that demonstrate your collaborative attitude, e.g., ‘assist,’ ‘contribute,’ ‘support,’ ‘provide,’ etc.

Example: Collaborated with multiple stakeholders and built a team of 7 analysts that resulted in revenue growth of $ 400K/ year.

7. Avoid a List of job responsibilities: Some applicants make their MBA résumé a long list of job responsibilities. The Ad Com will not look at your résumé for the number of years you have worked or your simple job responsibilities. Instead, they will look for the quality of professional experience, i.e., the skills you have acquired and the impact you have made on your organization. When listing your professional experience, follow the reverse chronological order, so your current professional experience gets the utmost attention.

8. Showcase Impact: Résumés that do not quantify the outcome of your accomplishments fail to make an impression. So please make sure to quantify your impact on your company/ organization with measurable results or achievements. Wherever possible, use numbers to communicate your impact. Try to provide specific details such as:

· How much or by what percentage you reduced expenses?

· How many people were on the team that you supervised?

· How much or by what percentage you increased sales?

Example: Spearheaded a flagship project– ‘Change In Terms’ for the company– built a team of 5 analysts, translating into a revenue of $100K

9. Leave high school back in High School: Sometimes, applicants fill precious space with high school accomplishments and grades. Please do not discuss your high school activities unless you did something exceptional for your age. You have come a long way after high school, and you are applying for graduate school, not college.

10. Include your extracurricular activities/ interests: Sometimes, the applicants get so involved in the details of their professional experience that they tend to ignore extracurricular activities/community service and other interests/ hobbies. Please note that the schools are looking for well-rounded individuals and professionals who have no interests beyond their work. Therefore, do not hesitate to include 2-3 hobbies you feel passionate about and pursue in your non-work hours. Also, include community service activities you have been involved in.

11. Education Section: Please place your education section after the professional career section and keep it short. It should show the schools you have attended, study areas, ranking/accomplishments, etc. However, some schools (Cambridge, Oxford, Sauder, etc.) require you to follow a certain template that places the Education section before the Experience section. So you must check with your target schools if they need the applicants to follow a particular résumé template.

12. Additional Information/Skills: If you have some certificates or awards, if you have learned some foreign languages, or if you possess advanced computer skills, you may use this section for this information. If you have a long list of awards/ honors, you may create a separate section of ‘Awards and Honors’ to include that information.

13. Providing Personal Information: Please do not provide your height, weight, date of birth, and marital status on your résumé. Also, there is no need to provide your picture on your résumé.

14. List of References: An MBA résumé is not a place for providing references. So do not use precious space in providing references or even mentioning ‘References on request.’

Lastly, and most importantly, edit and proofread your resume multiple times before you submit it. You do not want to ruin your first impression by careless spelling, grammar, and style errors. Get it reviewed by a second pair of eyes to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club)

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.