The MBA Resume: Done right, this one-page list of accomplishments can woo the adcoms towards acceptance; done wrong, a resume could be your ticket to ding-hood.
The following 7 fatal resume flaws have been derived from a recent Businessweek article, Applying to B-School? Resume Perils to Avoid:
- Don’t view your resume as an afterthought; it should not be your last priority — – Your resume is “the only place where you have the entire candidacy on one page, and admissions committees often look at this first and start to form an opinion on your candidacy.”
- Basic job descriptions just won’t cut it – When top b-school adcoms quickly scan a resume (which is what they do at first), they’re looking for career progression. Even a list of the most impressive jobs won’t mean nearly as much to an adcom as a list of impressive jobs that show that a candidate has achieved goals, been promoted, and has generally made an impact on his or her surroundings.
- Do not submit a job resume as part of your MBA application – Your MBA resume should not include industry-specific or technical lingo that you might include on a resume for, say, an IT position. “What you’re trying to do is make the information as easily accessible to your audience as possible,” says Michael Cohan, admissions pro.
- When formatting your resume, standards trump creativity – Review the resume standards for your target school. Check out resources at the school’s career services department to find out how you should standardize your tenses, punctuation, and formatting. Don’t bold headings if your school-specific format doesn’t bold headings, for example. “All we care about is who you are,” explains Julie Liu, former student adcom at Chicago Booth. “A person who does artistic or crazy fonts just shows us that maybe [he] should have applied to art school.”
- Don’t forget to edit – A resume that hasn’t been spell-checked, grammar-checked, and reviewed by an extra set (or two) of eyes, will probably have errors, and therefore won’t make a very good first impression. “It must be letter-perfect, no mistakes, no puffery, no lying or anything like that,” says Brian T. Lohr, Notre Dame Mendoza‘s director of MBA admissions.
- Don’t offer information overload – That means no SAT or GMAT scores, no GPA, no high school education, and no references. The school will have all of that information from other parts of your application. Needless to say, date of birth, height, and weight should be excluded.
- Your resume should not be more than a single page – According to Shrum, “One and a half pages scream that you think you’re either too important or can’t be bothered getting it down to one page.” If you have a gap of unemployment to explain, and can’t fit it on your resume, consider using the optional essay for that purpose.
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