What exactly are the top MBA programs looking for in a resume? Can it be two pages? Should I include an executive summary? How should it be formatted?

Relax. These details won’t be the determining factor of whether you are accepted. However, a compelling, polished resume makes a positive first impression and sets the stage for the rest of your application. The following tips will get you off on the right foot:


  • There are no requirements on style, so just use your best judgment. The key is to make it neat, professional well-organized, consistent, and easy to navigate.
  • When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman font. Traditional as it is, it’s gold standard for a resume. 10-point is the smallest you should go.
  • Leave some white space around your margins, entries, and section breaks. It gives your content breathing room and avoids a cluttered appearance.
  • The rule of thumb, among admissions officers and corporate recruiters alike, is one resume page per 10 years of work experience. That means, if you’re a typical full-time MBA candidate, your resume should be no more than one page. Enough said.


  • Don’t waste valuable real estate on an executive summary. Your skills and objectives will be clear from the rest of your resume and application.
  • At a minimum, include three sections (in this order): Education, Experience, Personal. If your employer is more prestigious than your university, you can swap the first two.
  • As appropriate, include additional sections to call out strengths in your candidacy such as Community, Certifications, and/or Skills. Those belong toward the end, just before Personal.


  • List your institution, location, degree, major, minor/concentrations, and graduation year. Include GPA if it’s impressive, if not, leave it off.
  • Include any honors or awards you earned.
  • Mention your thesis, publications or relevant research you may have completed.
  • Provide all of the activities you participated in, highlighting all leadership positions. This may include student clubs, sports, volunteer work, part-time jobs—anything that shows you as an active and engaged student.
  • There’s no need to list relevant coursework, since adcomm will have your transcript.
  • High school and SAT/ACT scores have no place on your resume.


  • List your organization name, location and years of employment.
  • We strongly recommend opening with a mini-paragraph describing your general roles and responsibilities for each position. In other words, what job were you hired to do?
  • Then, list three to five bullet points highlighting your most significant achievements, projects, leadership roles, initiatives, and quantifiable results. In other words, what was your individual impact?  This separates the men from the boys.
  • Additional bullets can highlight company activities you’re involved in (e.g. community work, recruiting, training, softball), fast-track promotions, or awards/honors.
  • As needed to save space, whittle down your internships into shorter entries.


  • List your interests, hobbies, extra-curriculars, volunteer work, international experience, interesting skills, sports leagues, favorite past-times–again, highlighting any leadership roles.
  • One to three lines here is generally sufficient.

* Why do we consider the Personal section a must? Because business schools genuinely want to get to know you outside of your career.  Perhaps you have special knowledge (e.g. fluency in five languages) that will add value to the class.  Or interesting hobbies that classmates would enjoy sharing with you (e.g. a love of food/wine, co-ed soccer or skiing).  Or, you might just forge a common bond with your reader.  In any case, it will show you as an interesting, well-rounded person. And in MBA admissions, that’s the name of the game.

[For help in writing your resume, or for general MBA application advice, please contact us at info@shineadmissions.com]

© Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, June 26 2015, 10:05am PST