MBA Resume Writing Guideline: Do’s & Dont’s

All B-Schools require a one page resume for applying to the MBA program.  Your MBA Resume is a pseudo marketing document that helps you show your USP in terms of experience and education to the admissions committee. The MBA CV is quite different from a traditional business resume. The focus of an MBA CV is heavily oriented towards key skills and traits such as leadership, teamwork and innovation.

The Unparalleled Value of an “Intuitive” MBA Resume

MBA applicants often feel the CV is a simple straightforward document. This overconfidence leads to spending too much time perfecting essays, securing letters of recommendation, and filling out responses on the actual application and neglecting their resume. We urge you to not fall in this trap. The AdCom may spend less than 1 minute reviewing your CV, but in the absence of a compelling reason, a sub-par written CV will lead them to see limited value in your candidature, paving the way for candidates who know how to communicate their credentials in a appealing way.

The LilacBuds MBA consulting team reviews over a thousand CV’s each year, with candidates from diverse academic & professional backgrounds, countries. Some have limited professional experience, quite a few have gaps in their studies and work, and some are theoretically even “over qualified” for the MBA. Looking at the standard mistakes that applicants make – we have made the following list of Do’s and Dont’s to help you prepare a solid CV.

Do’s

  • Be conservative when choosing your words. Think of making each phrase as concise as you can. Keep your CV to 1 page only.
  • The first section must be professional experiences and not your educational background (except in case of Deferred MBA).
  • The general rule for each sentence / bullet point is : Start with an Action Verb that demonstrates a skill you possess, continue to provide a specific Organizational Goal you achieved, and end with a quantification / Measure of the impact from your work. See some examples below
    • Coordinated the cross-functional implementation of an enterprise wide knowledge repository, saving $150K in annual costs
    • Presented the annual customer research survey findings to the sales leadership team, highlighting opportunities worth $10 million through newer promotional initiatives.
  • The values and culture of the MBA program, must resonate with your own journey. Read the B-school’s website tho roughly and try to leverage inputs from there that overlap with your experiences.  (eg : UCLA’s Values : Shared Success, Think Fearlessly & Drive Change)
  • For applicants who have worked for relatively lesser known firms, explain what your firm does. (eg: Product Manager at Avataar, an Augmented Reality Product Discovery & Virtual Shopping app)
  • Consistent formatting is key to readability. Keeping dates right aligned, italicizing your designation, keeping section titles in bold – these are basic hygiene factors to keep in mind
  • Proofread the whole CV, and ensure you avoid misspellings or grammatical errors in your resume. Ask a friend, colleague, or work with a professional proofreader to help you finalize the document.

Dont’s

  • Lie about any part of your story. Embellishing or exaggerating your accomplishments or outright lying about your education and professional work, will lead to immediate rejection of your application.
  • Giving too many details about your job from over 3+ years ago. Instead emphasize on recent work, achievements, and career progress.
  • Using very tiny font and cramming the page with content from margin to margin. Our team recommends using an 11-size font
  • Mentioning your marital status, height, weight, religion, citizenship status, or inserting you picture in the document
  • Underline and using bold font extensively. They are great tools to draw attention, but if more than 5-10% of the words are underlined, that creates confusion and lack of interest for the reader.
  • Use technical and industry jargon terms. If you must, explain why the metric is significant. (e.g. in the Oil & Gas industry Reserve replacement ratio (RRR) helps illustrate management’s ability to replace production volume with new reserves)

General Tips

Admissions committees are made up of smart, well-read folks, but may still not know about your industry. Ask yourself, if a friend, who knew nothing about your industry or company was reading your CV, would they understand what you’ve written?

A lot of applicants may not have done meaningful volunteer work or been part of community impact initiatives in a meaningful way. Its ok to not talk about that in the CV – rather than forcing a statement or two about one-off engagements you have participated for company CSR.

Its important for AdCom to see your individuality. We recommend humanizing yourself through your interests – but not in a generic way. So instead of saying “you love cooking” – phrase it with specifics – “Ardent culinary enthusiast of organic vegan appetizers”.

Only write about your lingual skills, if you speak multiple international languages. No one really cares if you speak Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Gujarati (all of which are largely spoken in India).

Still looking for help

If you have a CV that needs to be reviewed, feel free to reach out to our professional MBA Resume Experts. We also have alums from the Top MBA schools around the world and part of various industries, who help applicants reach the pinnacle of their potential.

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