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Building MBA Resumes - Key Mistakes to Avoid!

Resumes are the backbone of the MBA application process. They serve as the window through which MBA admission committees (AdComs) are able to evaluate a candidate’s achievements, career progression, learnings, leadership skills and personal commitments – all of this through just a one-pager document. And that’s why MBA Resumes are incredibly important.


While we have shared our tips for building the perfect MBA resume, having worked with hundreds of MBA aspirants over the years, we have also noticed several common and some uncommon mistakes that applicants make while building this important document.


So, we decided to help! We invited MBA aspirants to share their MBA resumes with us, so that we could help them identify where they were making mistakes, and how they could improve.


mba resume

So with this context, let’s find out the mistakes in this resume – and how you can avoid these to build your own perfect MBA resume!


First Look – Visual Appeal.


This resume looks pretty nice. It has a clean structure, no distracting visuals, clearly demarcated sections – academics, work experience, and extra-curriculars. Though, there are some minor issues:


  • The content distribution overall seems a bit skewed. There’s too much white space in the body of the document, and too much text in the bottom half.

  • There are two separate sections for co-curricular activities in the bottom half – not a technical issue, but can get confusing for the AdComs to understand the difference between those two sections.


Let’s dive in deeper, section by section.


MBA Resume Mistakes: Academics


academic section of resume

Presenting academic results in a table format can help save space and make things look more structured, however, it also prevents the candidate from sharing any major achievements in their academic career.


Further, mentioning the Class 12th details doesn’t really add much value to the MBA resume. Most business schools care about your academic achievements from college onwards, so while it might feel like a good piece of information to share, class 12th results don’t matter much for global MBA programs.


MBA Resume Mistakes: Work Experience


First look, it looks like too many positions! However, as you take a closer look, you will realize that there are multiple internships mentioned in the work experience section – 4 internships to be exact. All of these internships are a WASTE of space. They add absolutely no value to the candidate’s profile, either in terms of the impact or in terms of their professional experiences. For a candidate who has almost 4 years of experience, mentioning internships undertaken during college is futile.


internships on resume

Going deeper into the shared work experiences – currently the candidate is working as an Investment Analyst, and they explain their role and work in the first bullet in quite detail. They have highlighted the key skills they bring to the table, deal evaluation, due-diligence exposure, analytical skills, presentation skills, and working with different stakeholders.


work experience section of resume

However, the second and third bullet points – evaluating a deal in xxx sector, offer no new information to the reader. It’s a repetition of the responsibilities that they have already highlighted in the first bullet. Further, the candidate adds a lot of detail about the firms they are working for – for example, the target is a leading player in India, or the target is a subsidiary of a listed entity. None of these statements provide any insight into the candidate’s responsibilities, actions taken, or how the candidate’s work has impacted the projects.


Instead of these extra details, had the candidate simply provided a summarised snapshot of their overall job responsibilities and the different sectors they have had exposure to, it would have been a much more succinct way to present their work.


Similar issues continue with the previous positions that the candidate has held - repetitive descriptions of the work they have performed. So, beyond the first bullet of the current position, we haven’t really learnt much about the professional skillsets, growth, or leadership values that the candidate brings to the table. Humongous, missed opportunities!


What could they have done better?


  • Highlighted upgradations in their responsibilities.

  • Showcased aspects like collaboration, leading initiatives or workstreams, working in teams, or highlighting how they have outperformed their peers.

  • Highlighted key achievements and quantified those. For example, “Identified potential financial and strategic buyers, performing in-depth company and industry research” – lacks substance as it does not bring out any quantification! A better way to portray this would be – Analysed 20+ firms across the FMCG sector to shortlist 5 potential financial and strategic buyers and submitted recommendations to client senior management.

  • Removed all internship positions, and instead elaborated on various projects in their actual full-time roles for the last 4 years.

  • For startups they have worked at during college – creating a separate header would make more sense since it would not be counted as full-time experiences or towards their overall work experience.

Extra-Curriculars


extra-curricular section of resume

There are two major issues within the extra-curricular sections –


  • Having two separate headers, co-curricular and extra-curricular – creates more confusion than clarifying what the candidate has done.

  • Both the sections are extremely cramped with too many pointers!


Instead, the candidate should have kept just one section header, and identified 2-4 key activities where they have created impact or been associated with for a long time. This would allow them to showcase the depth of their experiences, rather than focusing on expanding the breadth of activities. Depth is always more valuable as it highlights long-term associations and better overall impact.


For example, the candidate has had a deep association with sporting activities, from cricket and football to participating even in corporate competitions. All of this could have come together.


Final Verdict


This resume is a good starting point for MBA resumes – but lacks on multiple aspects which are important for creating an impact on business school AdComs. There is a lot of promise that the candidate should have some great experiences to share, but they have missed out on those opportunities at this time.

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