Posted on May 26, 2019

5 Most Common Mistakes I See in MBA Résumés

 5 Most Common

When assisting my students with their MBA applications, I have found that some applicants ignore résumé and focus all their attention on GMAT and essays.  Please note that Resume is a critical component of the application package, and it demands as much of your attention as your essays do.  It is your first introduction to the Ad Com, so it should be strong enough to drive them to read your essays to learn more about you.

The following are the most common mistakes I see in résumés every day:

  1. Lengthy Résumés with Technical Terms:

Often, I receive 3-4 pages résumés that are filled with technical jargon with absolutely no results achieved. MBA résumé is different from a job résumé that you write for your prospective employer. The Ad Com of business schools will look at your résumé to evaluate you for career progression, leadership qualities, team-working skills, initiative, and other interests/activities of the future business leaders. So focus on these skills in a jargon-free language that is comprehensible to a non-industry person. As with essays, brevity is the key here.  To create a strong one- page, follow the principle of ‘less is more’ and be as concise as you can.  Make each word count that shines a spotlight on your candidacy. Please do not write complete sentences and make your résumé easy on the eyes of the reader by leaving some white space.

 Example: Mentored & developed multiple vendors throughout project life cycle ensuring timely, under budget project completion; resulting in 150K savings

  1. Lack of Impact/Results:

Often, applicants create résumés that are simply a laundry list of responsibilities and fail to not show results or accomplishments. Please make sure to demonstrate impact and, whenever possible, quantify your impact on your company/organization with measurable results or achievements.

You can demonstrate your impact by providing 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: Managed a budget of $10-20MM/year for planning equipment and resources for onshore rig-less operations

If you can’t disclose revenue figures, you may refer to percentage increases.

  1. Failure to Demonstrate Growth:

Some applicants who have worked for the same company throughout their career write the name of their most recent position. This doesn’t give the reader any clue about their professional growth. To demonstrate your career growth and the impact you have made under each of those three positions you have held when working for the same company, it is vital to list them separately. For example, if you have reached the position of Director Finance and Analytics at a financial services company in 6 or 7 years, it is imperative that you list all your job positions from financial analyst to the Director of Finance and Analytics in just 6 years. But your most recent job should get maximum space. Moreover, if you are working for the same company throughout your professional career, you need to write the name of the company only once.

  1. Omitting Additional Information Section:

Usually, 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 not professionals who have no interests beyond their work. In addition to interests/hobbies and community involvement, the Additional Information section may include certifications done, awards earned, and languages learned.

  1. Not mentioning Specifics of Extracurriculars and Community Work:

The most common mistake I have seen in the résumé is that under the extracurricular activities section, people just write a laundry list of their interests, hobbies. For example- table tennis, cricket, baseball music, reading, etc. This fails to create an impression. The admission committee needs to know the specifics of your interest. Instead of 8 interests, mention only 3-4, but make sure to provide the specifics of your involvement. For example, instead of  ‘music and table tennis,’ if you write ‘music enthusiast- performed in several concerts, table tennis-play table tennis twice a week’ will offer insights into your level of interest in your hobby.

Most résumés I have reviewed lack the timelines of the applicants’ involvement in extra-curricular activities or community work. Please note that mentioning the length of your community involvement is as important as listing the period worked under specific job positions in your professional career.

Example: Helped low-income individual and families with their tax preparation and tax issues during tax season in 2012, 2013 and 2014

For more details on creating robust MBA résumés, you may refer to the following blog:

20 Helpful Tips to Craft a Powerful MBA Resume

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.