Business Administration

Writing an A+ MBA Resume for Business School Admissions

Writing an A+ MBA Resume for Business School Admissions
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Nedda Gilbert profile
Nedda Gilbert September 11, 2018

As a business school applicant, you will almost certainly need to create (and perfect) a resume. A standout resume will go a long way towards tilting your business school application towards a yes decision. However, your experience and credentials are not the only things admissions officers will be looking for; the story you tell with your resume will matter too. Bearing this in mind, you may want to shape your business school resume differently than you would the traditional, professional resume you are accustomed to using.

MBA/Business Programs You Should Consider

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Any resume will highlight your education, work experiences, skills and accomplishments. But for as a business school applicant, it will be just as important to play up compelling and interesting features about yourself. This might mean listing volunteer work or outside interests. You could even highlight an awesome hobby, or a meaningful activity. This is the place to share those features that are uniquely-you. Furthermore, as an MBA candidate, leadership and collaborative experiences will be considered essential. One more new twist on what admissions committees are looking for in their candidates? Social and emotional intelligence.

So on top of showing off what you’ve accomplished thus far in your education and career, use this resume to showcase your softer skills: leadership, character, teamwork, and resilience. Business schools want students who possess every quality on that list

Stand Out From the Crowd with Your MBA Resume

Overall, your MBA resume should function as a compelling narrative about who you are. It should develop your distinctive persona and allow you to stand out from the crowded applicant pool. And highlighting more interpersonal skills and qualities — such as social intelligence, character, and the ability to overcome obstacles — is a great way to rise above the competition.

If you are applying from a profession that is over-represented in the applicant pool, such as banking, financial services, or consulting, presenting yourself as a little different from others in your category will be helpful; in fact, it may be critical to convincing a school that there is more to you than your ability to crunch numbers. Admissions committees work hard to build well-rounded student bodies. Create a resume that helps schools see the ways in which you might contribute to a diverse population of MBAs.


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Your Business School Resume and Admissions Interview

Your resume might also set you up to have excellent talking points in the business school admissions interview. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a meeting with admissions officers, you can bet that they will use your resume as guide for your discussion. Naturally, school officials will want to learn about your most interesting experiences. Be creative, thoughtful and honest in how you go about painting an interesting portrait of who you are — and remember that you may have to go into detail in your interview, so don’t exaggerate what you’ve seen or done. Anything inauthentic or embellished on your resume will come off as even more that way in a face-to-face discussion.

Keep Your MBA Resume Clean and Honest

Be aware that as a candidate to their program, the business school admissions committee may:

  • Do a background check
  • Google you
  • Research your social media posts
  • Use your recommendations as the reality checks to your resume boasts

While you may play up the positive on your resume, keep it aligned with the truth. Clean up your social media posts (if they need cleaning), and make sure that any searchable online presence syncs up with how you are presenting yourself to business schools.

Top Ten Tips for Writing a Winning MBA Resume

Are you ready to get down to business (so to speak) crafting and editing your b-school resume? Here are some tips to make sure this piece of your application is authentic and memorable.

  1. Keep it to one page if at all possible. The admissions committee will have to read through hundreds of resumes and essays each cycle. Keep these professionals from reaching for another cup of espresso. Show them that you know how to create a succinct and clear (but interesting!) message.

  2. If your grades and/or GMAT scores were exceptional, list them under your university degrees. If your grades were high in your major, you may include this instead of an overall GPA. These numbers are pace-setting and are a fast reader’s sign that you are a high performer. If your numbers are not standout, however, it’s okay to leave them out.

  3. Skip the jargon. Admissions officers are unlikely to be impressed by buzzwords. Leave them out, along with anything too predictably business-speak like or industry specific.

  4. Always frame your accomplishments in terms of your impact. This might mean your role in a particular project, or your impact on co-workers, clients, products, community, company culture, or the overall environment. This should be a show, not tell, narrative. Is there a before-and-after snapshot you can convey? Was there a measurable result of the product you launched, the project you managed, or the team you lead? Was this impact quantitative? Profit-driven? Did it result in a cultural change, or influence the way that your company does business? Or did you lead a charge that changed the ways in which employees engage with one another, or with the community as a whole? Remember that not every accomplishment needs be a revenue win. Success can take many forms. That said, try to have every bullet point you include be tied to an impact.

  5. Do not inflate or embellish credentials.

This should go without saying. There are plenty of ways for admissions officers to verify your claims, and these types tend to have a nose for overly-stretched truth. Put your best foot forward, but do not tell tall-tales.

  1. Watch for grammar, punctuation and overboard capitaliz**ation**. (Schools and college majors should be capitalized). Make sure you use the right tense, and that it is consistent. Avoid contractions: you “shouldn’t” (should not) use colloquialisms on your resume. And while proper nouns such as schools, degrees, and formal job titles should be capitalized, avoid capitalizing random words; when in doubt, look it up.

  2. Edit** for self-importance and over-the-top descriptions**. Have a second set of eyes read your resume; the line between confident and self-aggrandizing can be a fine one.

  3. Do not make an objective, goal or statement of purpose heading. While this may be a normal feature of professional resumes, it is not needed here. You are applying to business school. Enough said.

  4. Use strong action verbs such as lead, transformed, launched, spearheaded, collaborated, and initiated.

  5. **Avoid unnecessary categories**. Use categories such as: education, work/employment, volunteer work, extracurriculars, publications, research, and foreign language(s). Trim your list of activities/extracurriculars to only feature those that demonstrate leadership, character, and your value as an applicant. Oh — and you don’t need to post a photo on your resume. If the school wants one, they will list this as a requirement.

So reflect on what you have to offer as an applicant, and follow these steps. No matter your previous experience, a well-crafted resume is sure to impress — especially if you can show the school what makes you, you.

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About the Author

Ms. Nedda Gilbert is a seasoned clinical social worker, author, and educational consultant with 25 years of experience helping college-bound and graduate students find their ideal schools. She is a prolific author, including The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and Essays that Made a Difference. Ms. Gilbert has been a guest writer for Forbes and a sought-after keynote speaker on college admissions. Previously, she played a crucial role at the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company and was Chairman of the Board of Graduate Philadelphia. Ms. Gilbert holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University and is a certified interdisciplinary collaborative family law professional in New Jersey.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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