Business School Resume – Your Professional Narrative
For those of you preparing your applications for MBA programs, we are sure you have been studying hard for the GMAT (read our article on GMAT or GRE, if you are wondering which test to take) and working furiously on your essays (right??). But one thing you might not be thinking much about is your resume.
As top mba admission consultants, we find that most people we work with initially feel confident in their resumes — after all, it’s something they already have on hand, and it’s helped them secure their current job. But a business school resume is actually a little different from a professional resume. It’s important to know those differences and make sure you carve out some time to work on your MBA resume early in the application process.
Here are some of our tips for how you can make your resume business-school ready. You will find that thinking about your resume in terms of your MBA application will help you create your professional narrative and develop different stories, and inform your answer when asked in MBA interviews to “walk someone through your resume”!
Mind your language
Avoid industry-specific jargon! While you can assume that employers in your field understand the job-specific language you might have on your resume, an MBA admissions committee might not. You want to make your resume clear and easy to understand for anyone who reads it, not just someone who comes from your professional sector.
Numbers help your narrative
Whenever you can quantify your achievements in specific substantive ways, do so! Include the number of people who work on your team, or under your leadership. Talk about how much money you’ve saved your company, or what a deal is worth in specific terms. Business schools want to know about outcomes and measurable impact.
Context is key
While business schools value applicants from well-known companies with international recognition and repute, they also promote diversity and welcome applicants from different backgrounds who will bring interesting perspectives that will enrich the program. As international applicants there are many things on your resume that you can’t count on being universally well known, so contextualise your work, your position and your company for the reader. Be sure to provide regional or cultural information when it’s appropriate.
Emphasise your soft skills
It’s very important that you highlight soft skills, such as communication, leadership, team-work, problem solving or motivation, on your resume. Contextualise how your communication abilities helped your team, how you’ve led teams through a project or new product launch, ways in which you’ve cultivated your interpersonal abilities. If the nature of your work doesn’t allow you to highlight those abilities, you can talk about these skills through your other interests and activities such as participation in the Rotary Club, community service, sports teams/championships, etc.
Keep it short and relevant
Be as concise as possible! Your resume should fit on one page, so be specific, thorough and brief. There is NO exception to this one-page rule.
Unlike many other parts of the business school application, such as the essays and the forms, the resume can be fairly straightforward, so edit it early, and have it ready to use. We promise, you will thank yourself later!