Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application

Resume If only the top MBA programs would provide resume examples.  What are they looking for??  One page or two?  Executive summary or not?  Education above or below professional experience?  Can I trust the MBA resume template I found online?

Will a top MBA program reject you because you chose to list your professional experience below your education?  Certainly not.  However, I can share a few tips from my experience at Harvard Business School that may impact your resume choices.

As a first-year HBS student, to be considered for on-campus recruiting, every student’s resume must be constructed in an identical format.  It evens the playing field for students, and prospective employers can count on HBS to deliver a consistent set of polished resumes for consideration.  Do I have a copy of that template?  I sure do—and will share its takeaways with you–though of course, it requires great content above all.  Still, with these five key pointers, you’ll be well on your way to writing a resume that already makes you look like you’re a first-year student at a top business school.

Format

You just can’t go wrong with Times New Roman.  For a business resume, this truly is the standard, and it always makes the right impression.  Don’t go below a 10-point font size, and do leave a reasonable does of white space around your margins, section breaks, and entries.  Begin with your education, then progress downward to work experience, then (as appropriate for you) individual sections that may include extensive community experience, unique skills or certifications, and/or personal interests or hobbies.

Number of Pages

The rule is one resume page for every ten years of work experience.  That means, for the typical MBA applicant, a one-page resume is a must.  Anything longer implies you may be misguided about the importance of your professional experience.  Whittle internships and short-term positions into shorter entries as needed to ensure that yours fits onto one page.

Executive Summaries

For a business school application, executive summaries are a waste of space.  Your data form and essays serve as a perfectly sufficient “cover letter” to summarize your professional talents and intentions.  Instead, use the extra room to describe your accomplishments in greater detail and/or to add more valuable sections like “Personal.”

Professional Experience

Take a few lines and describe your general roles and responsibilities. This may also include some aspects of your business unit such as its revenue, category, and performance. Then, write approximately three to five bullet points that describe your ownable accomplishments and results: important projects you worked on, honors or awards, items that show your added value in this role.  While you and your teammates could have very similar roles and responsibilities, the bullet points should be uniquely yours.

Education

After your degree, major, concentrations, and honors, list all of the activities you participated in while at school.  Highlight any leadership positions, as well as any volunteer work.  Show yourself as an active and engaged student, who balances the rigors of academic life with all that the student community has to offer.  Because that’s just what the admissions committee is looking for when considering you for their MBA class.

[For personalized advice on writing an resume for MBA applications, please contact us at info@shineadmissions.com]

© Hillary Schubach  May 29, 2012  9:57am MT









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