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How to Write a Great Resume for your MBA Application

To gain admission to competitive MBA programs, you need to stand out by demonstrating in your application what makes you a highly qualified and remarkable individual. The entire admissions process presents a chance to impress, but your resume for your MBA application plays a significant part.

Just like applying for a new job, applying to an MBA program requires a killer resume. You need to reveal your work experience in a way that presents your best qualities and experience up front. To ensure that your resume will help and not harm your application we checked in with sources at the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University as well as the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Ryan Hickey shared on the Graziadio MBA blog that tailoring your resume is the most important step. “Everybody looks great in clothes tailored to them, since no two bodies are identical,” he said. “Your resume works the same way. If you send the exact same resume to every MBA program, don’t expect enthusiastic responses. Showcase yourself in a light that appeals to individual schools.”

While it might seem easier and quicker to create one solid resume and send it out to every MBA program you’re considering, that won’t give you your best chance of success. Instead, you should carefully consider the unique elements, teaching styles and focus points of each MBA program and shape your resume to correspond to that information.

For example, if one of your schools places high importance on leadership, you should write your resume in such a way that your leadership qualities shine through. “Ask what this school emphasizes: case study, internships, group projects? Use your resume to show real-world experience matching the program’s specific brand,” Hickey writes.

For Chigoize Muoto, an Anderson MBA Class of 2017 student, the process is a little more complicated. In a recent school blog, he stated that thinking your resume isn’t important is one of the worst things you can do. “Your resume is the gateway to all the wonderful application materials that you painstakingly put together about yourself in the application package,” he wrote. “The resume is typically the first application element an adcom member will read, so it has to be written in such a way to generate interest. It’s imperative that your resume makes a good impression.”

Given that your resume is often the first thing the MBA admissions team will read, it should not only be tailored to the school but also written in a way that quickly and efficiently demonstrates your core competencies. You can’t afford to leave anything to chance. To this end, Muoto goes on to offer six key principles that you should keep in mind when writing your resume for your MBA application.

  1. Make it narrative based. The usual business resume is bullet-pointed. Instead, if you want to provide the maximum amount of content in the minimum amount of space, your should make your resume a narrative of your experience.
  2. Use the S-A-R approach. The S-A-R approach according to Muoto is the best way to identify and articulate your strengths and key accomplishments with the right type of flow. “State (a) the SITUATION—mention the problem you had to overcome (Who/What/When), (b) The ACTION you took or initiated to solve the problem, highlighting the skills you used to complete the tasks. (c) The RESULTS—summarize the outcome in a quantifiable manner,” Muoto writes.
  3. Show your best side. Your resume is your chance to brag about yourself, in a realistic manner. Make sure your resume includes examples of specific times and places where you learned the most, shone the brightest and had the greatest impact on your company.
  4. Avoid listing all job descriptions. Too much information can be a bad thing. For your MBA application, focus only on those job descriptions that illustrate your career progression. Be strategic about what job listings you should share where you achieved quantifiable goals, were promoted or made a big impact. Your MBA program doesn’t need to know about your part-time work at Starbucks unless you did something big.
  5. Do not use lingo or jargon. Especially if you have a technical background, using lingo or technical jargon is unhelpful and detrimental to your resume.
  6. Don’t over-share information. Your resume should be no more than a page, so be careful about what you include. If information is included in other parts of your application, like your GMAT score or references, then don’t include that same information in your resume. Keep it succinct.

Writing an exceptional MBA application resume won’t be easy, but it is possible. The best thing you can do is streamline your process and ask friends and family members to review your final resume and help you cut it down to the most essential elements you need.

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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