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How to build MBA Resumes

Updated: Mar 15

Resumes are an extremely important part of your MBA applications. Serving as a summary of your academic and professional history, they provide the perspective and act as a validation of your career to the admissions committees.

Often, resume is one of the first piece of your application puzzle that the admissions committees would read, and so it's imperative that you are able to stand out in your resume. In this post, we share how you can create a stellar resume, following a step by step method.

One-Page resumes are the standard for management program applications.

1. Follow University Instructions! First things first, read the university's guidelines about the resume, if any. Many of the top schools have specific guidelines about what you should and should not include in your MBA resume. In fact, some universities may even provide a template for your resume.

For example: MIT Sloan specifically asks to remove any names, emails or contact details from the resume. Similarly, Cambridge Judge provides a template that all candidates should use.

2. Realise that this is NOT a Job resume.

There are many elements of a job-hunting resume that are simply not required for a business school resume. Aspects like including an objective, a photograph, and the technical details of your work are non-essential and can be done away with.

3. Add the dates, and the net amount of time you spent in a particular position or degree.

Admission officers go through thousands of resumes. The one thing that you can do to make their life easier is to add clear dates, so they can easily see your progress, and include the duration of your engagement, so they are not left fiddling to calculate how much time you spent at the company.

For example:

Assistant Manager, Maruti Suzuki India Limited | Aug'12 - Aug'14 (2 years)

Admission officers go through thousands of resumes. The one thing that you can do to make their life easier is to add clear dates.

4. Always use the reverse-chronological order for sharing multiple experiences.

When you start adding your experiences, companies you have worked for, or your education details, always keep the latest ones on top and then follow suit. Even within a single job, if you have had multiple projects, share them in the reverse chronological order.

5. Work experiences: Describe your roles & responsibilities in one sentence, in layman terms.

Sounds counter-intuitive? Isn't resume the place to highlight your roles and responsibilities? Not for MBA. You need to bring out the key Actions you took and the Results you achieved rather than explaining in detail the roles you had.

6. Work experiences: Use Action Verbs for all your bullet points.

Action verbs describe clearly what you did in the role, and provide a great overview to the reader. Not to mention, they bring out the key elements in your profile much more strongly than any other way.

For example, if you have to talk about the amazing results you had where you increased sales by 25% for the quarter, write it as the following: Increased quarterly sales by 25% by doing so and so - increased being the action verb here.

7. Work experiences: Quantify.

Quantify everything. Numbers make your experience invaluable for the admissions team as it provides them the context of what you did, and how much of an impact you had. Mention the number of team-members you worked with, number of projects you handled, and the amount of impact you created. Everything is better with numbers.

Quantify everything.

8. Education Details: Let go of your high school performances.

Despite how you might think of the importance of your high school marks, the truth is simple - no one cares. Especially in a resume, they are taking up invaluable real-estate. Remove them. Only talk about your academic achievements post your undergraduate degree. You can include certifications, highlight key courses and any awards you won, but forget about school.

9. Extra-Curricular: Tabulate everything and provide details

Extra-curricular activities form an important part of your resume and can be another source of information to show your leadership capabilities to the schools. Similar to your job experiences, include a short one-liner description of your activity and focus on the impact you created.

10. One Page. That's it.

While there are multiple views on the ideal length of the resume, a one-pager resume is going to be your friend throughout the application process. Different schools have different requirements, and while most have guidelines to submit a 1-pager resume, some may allow 1-2 pages. However, that doesn't diminish the importance of a 1-pager.

It shows you can express yourself candidly, while being brief, and also allows a great peace of mind for the admissions committee.


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