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How to Build the Perfect MBA Resume

A meticulously constructed document, that paints a clear, vivid picture of your entire professional and academic journey - resumes are one of the most important cornerstones of the MBA admissions process.

However, having worked with 600+ candidates for MBA applications and evaluating their candidatures for top MBA programs, we have realized that many candidates are still unaware of the key things that can help them build a great MBA resume.

In this comprehensive article, we will dive deep into the key elements that can help you build outstanding MBA resumes – resumes, that resonate with the admissions committees and pave the path to your desired programs.

Build Perfect MBA Resumes: The Visual Impact

Often, the most underappreciated aspect that candidates miss while building resumes. MBA Resumes need to be visually pleasing – with proper margins, a professional font and font size, a clean professional layout with enough white-space, and devoid of distractions.

Why do we start with the visual impact though? Because this is the first impression that your resumes create. Aesthetically unpleasant resumes are an immediate turn-off for anyone evaluating your application.

For instance, compare the two resumes above, just on the basis of how they look. Which one are you more interested in reading? The left one looks professional, with a great structure and framework, and consistent styling. However, the one on the right looks like a hastily concocted collection of professional achievements and information - the social media links on the top of the page extend into the header, and the purple column with extra information is simply distracting.

An aesthetically pleasing resume lays the groundwork for success.

To Do

  • Keep it black and white. Give enough whitespace.

  • Clean, professional format. No double columns, side-bars, or going beyond margins.

Common Mistakes

  • Adding pictures or elaborate designs that overshadow content.

  • Cluttered layouts that impede readability.

Build Perfect MBA Resumes: Formatting & Resume Sections

Clean formatting is as crucial to a good MBA resume, as dressing appropriately is to business meetings. Would you wear a crumpled, un-ironed suit, with your tie hanging and unpolished shoes to a major business meeting? If no, then why would you want to submit a resume that has formatting inconsistencies to a top MBA program? The result in both cases will be similar – you will be considered lethargic and devoid of professionalism.

Great MBA resumes are segmented into 3 primary sections - Education, Work Experience, and Extracurricular Activities. Sometimes you might want to highlight leadership roles or international experiences separately if they don't align with any of the above three sections but our general suggestion is to incorporate them within these three. Once you have segmented these sections, use bullet points to succinctly highlight your accomplishments.

Throughout the resume, use a single font, and a regular font size - ideally ranging between 10-12. Some schools provide specific guidelines on formatting styles, so make sure you keep those in mind while building your resume.

To Do

  • Use 3 sections: Education, Work Experience & Extra-Curricular Activities

  • Use Professional Fonts - Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic.

  • Keep clear margins - 0.5 inches on all sides is great if you want to fit more content.

  • Font Size - 10, 11 or 12 & Single Line Spacing.

  • Remain consistent with monetary, number and date formats. For example, if you want to say you saved USD 2M, then ensure that, throughout the document, you use similar formatting. It should not become US$2M at one place and $1M at another.

Common Mistakes

  • Using multiple different fonts or varying font-sizes.

  • Going beyond margins.

  • Number formatting inconsistencies.

Build Perfect MBA Resumes: Purpose of the Resume

One of the biggest mistakes that we see candidates make while building resumes is not realizing the purpose of the MBA resume. The MBA Resume is NOT a job resume. The two differ in the very nature of what they are meant for.

One of the most common mistakes is the "objective" section in the resumes. There's no need to incorporate a separate objective or summary section in an MBA resume, because the objective is amply clear!

While job resumes are meant for you to showcase your existing job responsibilities and technical expertise to find jobs that match your professional expectations, the purpose of an MBA resume is to showcase accomplishments and the professional and leadership skills you have developed throughout your academic and professional career.

MBA programs value a diverse skill set encompassing leadership, teamwork, analytical prowess, and communication abilities. Similarly, your target careers, especially if you are looking for a career change through the MBA, would also require certain skill sets.

Showcase these skills through concrete examples and experiences to underscore your suitability for the program. This will also help you demonstrate transferable skills that you bring to the table which would be relevant for your future goals. Similarly, highlight experiences that correlate with the program's core values to underscore your alignment with the MBA program.

Look at the two examples below to understand the difference between a well-structured bullet highlighting various professional skills, and one that simply regurgitates job responsibilities.

resume bullet
Candidate is able to show collaboration skills, ability to innovate and technical skills!

It's unclear what the candidate wants the MBA AdCom to take away from this job description about their candidature

One of the best ways to showcase your professional achievements is to leverage the STAR framework while building your resumes, and use Action Verbs for creating every bullet point. The STAR framework will allow you to showcase the right actions, their purpose, and the eventual results concisely and clearly.

To Do

  • Identify key experiences highlighting different professional and leadership skills.

  • Highlight accomplishments and achievements, without providing laborious details of your job responsibilities.

  • Use STAR framework and Action Verbs to showcase the actions you took, for which purpose, and the results achieved.

Common Mistakes

  • Adding Objective / Summary sections.

  • Detailing job responsibilities instead of showcasing actions.

  • Not showcasing leadership skills.

  • Listing skills without supporting evidence or context.

Build Perfect MBA Resumes: Quantifying Achievements for Impact

Consider the below statements:

  1. Coordinated with product teams to introduce new features to increase time spent on page.

  2. Coordinated with product teams to introduce 5 new features to increase time spent on page by ~4% within 6 months.

Which of the two is more impactful? Which of the two statements gives you the feeling – this person knows what he/she is talking about? I am quite certain that it would be the second statement.

Numbers add credibility and depth to your accomplishments.

Building the perfect MBA resume means you must incorporate metrics, percentages, and tangible results wherever feasible to provide context and substantiate achievements effectively.

It doesn't always need to be revenue figures. It doesn't always need to be team-size. It can be any aspect of your work through which you can showcase your impact - number of teams you interacted with, amount of time you completed the job in, results achieved, number of people managed, amount of work done, size of the competing pool - everything and anything!

For example, refined SOP for competitor analysis & deployed across 10+ verticals globally - is perfectly quantified!

To Do

  • Identify avenues to quantify your work, and incorporate them in the resume.

Common Mistakes

  • Failure to quantify achievements results in vague statements.

  • Overemphasizing responsibilities without showcasing outcomes.

Build Perfect MBA Resumes: Extra-Curricular Activities

Extracurricular activities offer a glimpse into your passions, interests, and leadership potential beyond the workplace. Highlight significant extracurricular involvements that demonstrate your ability to balance academics/professional life with community engagement and personal pursuits. Like with your professional descriptions, incorporate quantifiable impact in your extra-curricular activities.

To Do

  • Identify meaningful activities to demonstrate community engagement and personal pursuits.

  • Quantify achievements.

Common Mistakes

  • Including irrelevant or outdated activities.

  • Failing to articulate the impact or significance of involvement.

Perfect MBA Resumes: Conclusion

Crafting exceptional MBA resumes is both an art and a science—a strategic endeavor that demands attention to detail, clarity of purpose, and a commitment to excellence. By optimizing visual aesthetics, formatting, alignment with program requirements, quantification of achievements, showcasing key skills, and presenting extracurricular activities, you can elevate your resume from ordinary to extraordinary.

In the competitive landscape of MBA admissions, your resume serves as your beacon of promise and potential. Embrace the journey of self-refinement and storytelling, and let your resume speak volumes about your readiness to embark on the transformative MBA experience.


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