10 Fatal Resume Flaws to Avoid
Done correctly, your MBA resume can open the door to a top b-school acceptance; done incorrectly, this one-page summary can kill your chances. In this post we’d like to highlight the 10 toxic mistakes of a poisonous MBA resume.
1. You Improperly Prioritize
Here’s why your resume is more important than you realize: Often it’s the first element of your application package that the adcom look at. It also can determine whether the reader will review the rest of your application with interest or out of a sense of obligation. A strong, impressive resume will pique the reader’s interest and inspire him/her to read on with an optimistic eye; a sloppy resume will do the opposite – it will demotivate your reader to view your application favorably. In short, you want to make a positive first impression; you don’t want to turn your reader off.
2. You Stick with Basic Descriptions
Adcom readers are looking for career progression. A list of jobs, titles, and job descriptions will tell the adcom little about the projects you’ve completed, how you have excelled and transcended the average, and the impact you’ve had on your professional surroundings. Basic job descriptions just won’t cut it. You need to bring out where you have gone above and beyond the expected and ordinary and when you have really contributed.
3. Your MBA Resume Looks like a Job Resume
Your MBA resume
should not include technical, industry-specific jargon that you may appropriately include on a job resume. Relatedly, ditch the “objective” line/section at the top of your resume. The adcoms know your objective – gaining acceptance to b-school. Don’t waste time and space stating the obvious.
4. You Don’t Stick to Formatting Standards
Follow the resume standards set by your target school. The program’s career services department may provide additional information on how you should standardize your resume, including tips on standardizing punctuation, formatting, and tenses. For example, if your school’s format doesn’t italicize job titles, then you shouldn’t take the liberty to do so either. Furthermore, if your school doesn’t ask for a pink font and a frilly border (which it won’t!), then don’t decorate your resume with these embellishments.
5. You Don’t Edit Extensively
Remember what we said above about a sloppy resume? It’s time to repeat that here: A sloppy resume will portray you as a sloppy person, and NOT the type of person admissions readers seek. In addition to running your word processor’s spell check and grammar check, be sure to review your resume with your eyes and ears so you can see and hear errors that the computerized error-checkers may have missed. Better yet, borrow the eyes and ears of another person or two to further ensure that your resume is letter-perfect, properly formatted, and accurate.
6. You Go into Info Overload
Don’t offer information that will appear in other components of your application, like your GMAT score, GPA, education background, and references. Only provide information relevant to your achievements, skills, and career progression. Needless to say, information like height, weight, date of birth, high school grades, and relationship status should be omitted. This is a resume, not an autobiography.
7. You Break the Page Limit Law
Some schools specify a maximum of one page. Some specify a maximum of two pages for the resume. Whatever it is, stick to it. And no, you are not the exception here even if you are dealing with a one-page limit. Almost all applicants have enough information to fill more than the specified space, and they trim it down to the required length. You can too. By submitting a too-long resume, you’re telling the adcom one of a few things (or perhaps all): first, that you are cocky and think that your accomplishments are that much more impressive than those of other applicants and therefore deserve more of the adcom’s time than other applicants do; that you are lazy; or that you don’t care about the resume page limit.
8. You Don’t Vary Your Verbs
A resume that uses the same verbs in its job descriptions over and over again is a boring resume. Many people don’t think of the resume as a place to showcase your writing abilities, but it is! A good resume doesn’t just present important content, but ensures that that content is well-presented. Switch up your verb usage by replacing overused words like “developed” or “led” with similar verbs like “delivered,” “reengineered,” “implemented,” “initiated,” “accelerated,” and “established.”
9. You Deny Your Reader the Details
Impact is illustrated in numbers, and if you delete these details, then your resume will lie flat. Bring your resume to life by including the most important details of what you accomplished
, how you impacted others through your accomplishment. These details should provide the meat of your job description and are necessary if you want to go beyond job descriptions to show an above-average track record of high performance.
10. You Lie
If you’re reading this thinking, “Duh! Obviously you shouldn’t lie in something as important as an MBA resume (or anything else, really),” then pat yourself on the back – your moral scrupulousness should be a model for others. Sadly, resume writers in and out of the MBA arena think that a little exaggeration here and there will go unnoticed and will only improve their resume. This is not the case. Admissions readers take serious measures to fact-check their candidates’ claims. Please be honest in this area and all other areas of the application process. An unearthed falsehood equals an automatic ding. Better to be safe and report a less-than-impressive fact than to be sorry later for embellishing.
Co-Author of: MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools
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