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MBA Resume - Mistakes you can avoid!

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MBA Résumé- Mistakes You Can Avoid



Résumé is a critical part of the MBA applications, yet it is often the most neglected one. Your résumé demands as much of your attention as your essays do. In fact, résumé is your first introduction to the Ad Com, so it should be impactful enough to make them want to know more about you through your essays. When working with applicants on their résumés, I often quote Ross Admission Director Soojin Kwon. “For me, the résumé is just as important as your essays…….How you describe your experience matters. What you choose to highlight matters. Think of it as trailer of the movie about you. It needs to show there is substance there. I find that many applicants don’t take enough care with their resumes,” Kwon said.
The analogy is so apt. If your essays show a movie about you, your resume shows the trailer of that movie. True!! Your resume is a trailer of your career progression, accomplishments, leadership and team working skills, your interests, and extra-curricular activities that will be shown in detail in the movie of your essays. Therefore, in order to make a good ‘first impression’, you need to invest your time and effort to make your résumé strong and impactful.


You can build a strong résumé by avoiding the following most common errors.

1. Lengthy Résumé: First, resist the temptation of writing a lengthy resume. It’s about quality, not quantity, so make sure not to go over one page limit. Most schools want to see only one page résumés. Let your résumé be short and sweet The resume should be the shortest document in your application but the most impactful one that provides an overview of not only your professional career and accomplishments, but also your interest and extra- curricular activities.
Please use 10 or 11 font and do not try to squeeze in loads of information by using 8 font.

2. Omitting dates: When listing job positions, sometimes applicants forget to mention employment dates. Without specific dates, the Ad Com will not be able to garner your career progression and your promotions.

3. Writing Sentences/ Paragraphs: Please do not write sentences or paragraphs even if you have a lot of information to convey. Instead use bulleted points. Each bullet should be limited to two lines of text, and there should be no more than five bullets per job position. You may use 2 bullet points for listing job responsibilities and 2-3 for job accomplishments.

4. Use of Fancy Fonts: Typical fonts for a resume are Times New Roman, Verdana, Cambria and Arial, with Times New Roman being the most common. The business résumé is not the place to use fancy fonts. So don’t use crazy fonts or intricate borders.

5. Use of Jargon: One of the most common mistakes applicants make is using technical terms of their industry. Do not assume that Ad Com will understand your industry jargon. This is not a job resume that you are writing for your prospective employer. This is your MBA resume that is scanned by the Ad Com of business schools for career progression, leadership qualities, team- working skills, initiative and other interests/activities of future business leaders. So make sure to make your résumé jargon free. The following example is jargon free:
Example:
• Created and implemented new checklists and guidelines, helping reduce the cost of the projects by 10-15%

6. Lack of Strong Verbs: Do not start a bullet point with nouns or adjectives (e.g. ‘responsible for’ or ‘in depth understanding of’). Begin with a strong action verb. Verbs make you sound like a dynamic individual who is always ready for action. Also, try to avoid overusing verbs like “led”, “managed” or “developed”, and consider using other verbs such as “accelerated,” “delivered,” “established,” “implemented,” “initiated,” or “spearheaded” etc. Use verbs that demonstrate your collaborative attitude e.g ‘assist’, ‘contribute’, ‘support’, ‘provide’ etc.
Example:
• Collaborated with multiple stakeholders and built a team of 7 analysts that resulted in revenue growth of $ 400K/ year

7. List of job responsibilities: Another most common mistake some applicants make in their MBA résumé is making it a long list of job responsibilities. The Ad Com will not look at your résumé for the number of years you have worked or for your simple job responsibilities. Instead, they will look for the quality of professional experience i.e. the skills you have acquired and the impact you have made on your organization. When listing your professional experience, follow the reverse chronological order so your current professional experience gets the utmost attention.

8. Lack of Quantifiable Accomplishments: Résumés that do not quantify the outcome of your accomplishments fail to make an impression. So please make sure to quantify your impact on your company/organization with measurable results or achievements.
Try to provide specific details such as:
    ➢ How much or by what percentage you reduced expenses?
    ➢ How many people were on the team that you supervised?
    ➢ How much or by what percentage you increased sales ?

Example:
• Spearheaded a flagship project - “Change In Terms” for the company– built a team of 5 analysts, translating into revenue of $ 100K

9. Details of high school: Sometimes applicants fill precious space with high school accomplishments and grades. Please do not discuss your high school activities unless you did something exceptional for your age. You have come a long way after high school; and you are applying for graduate school, not college.

10. Omitting extracurricular activities/ interest: Sometimes the applicants get so involved in the details of their professional experience that they tend to ignore extracurricular activities/community service and other interests/ hobbies. Please note that the schools are looking for well-rounded individuals, and not only professionals who have no interests beyond their work. So do not hesitate to include 2-3 hobbies that you feel passionate about and pursue in your non-work hours. Please do not include too many hobbies or interests. Also, include community service activities you have been involved in.

11. Beginning with Education Section: Beginning with the educations section is one of the most common mistakes the applicants make. Please place your education section after professional career section and keep it short. It should show the schools you have attended,the areas of study, and accomplishments/ranking etc.

12. Additional Information /Skills: If you have some certificates or awards, if you have learned some foreign languages, or if you possess advanced computer skills, you may use this section for this information. Also, if you have a long list of awards/ honors, you may create a separate section of ‘Awards and Honors’ to include that information.

13. Providing Personal information: Please do not provide your height, weight, date of birth, and marital status on your résumé. Also, there is no need to provide your picture on your résumé.

14. List of References: An MBA résumé is not a place for providing references. So do not use precious space in providing references or even mentioning ‘References on request’.

Lastly, and most importantly, edit and proofread your resume multiple times before you submit it. You do not want to ruin your first impression by careless spelling, grammar, and style errors. Get it reviewed by a second a pair of eyes to ensure consistency and accuracy.
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New post 10 Oct 2013, 11:29
where did you get information that MBA wants only 1 page resume?
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New post 11 Oct 2013, 07:54
1111111 wrote:
where did you get information that MBA wants only 1 page resume?


That's common knowledge. I recruit for my job (engineering) and even we don't like to see resumes longer than a page.
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New post 11 Oct 2013, 10:41
ohsballer wrote:
1111111 wrote:
where did you get information that MBA wants only 1 page resume?


That's common knowledge. I recruit for my job (engineering) and even we don't like to see resumes longer than a page.


There are a lot of mythes around admission, unless some Dean of top school will come out and say that "we do not like resumes longer than 1 page." It still will be a myth.
I doubt that people with resume with 2 - 3 pages do not get into school because of it.
Job recruitment is totally different
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New post 14 Oct 2013, 05:39
1111111 wrote:
ohsballer wrote:
1111111 wrote:
where did you get information that MBA wants only 1 page resume?


That's common knowledge. I recruit for my job (engineering) and even we don't like to see resumes longer than a page.


There are a lot of mythes around admission, unless some Dean of top school will come out and say that "we do not like resumes longer than 1 page." It still will be a myth.
I doubt that people with resume with 2 - 3 pages do not get into school because of it.
Job recruitment is totally different



I talk to a lot of Admissions folks and 1 page is pretty much the standard. Will you get rejected if you have 2-3 pages? No, but you have to understand that these people read a TON of applications and if you're going to triple the size of a standard resume, you better have a REALLY good reason for doing so.

I'd say 95% of people applying to business school can condense their resume to one page.
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Hmmmm, I've seen a lot of 2 page resumes too. And I've never seen it harm anyone's application. A few schools want ONLY one page, but besides that I'd say that if you really need 2 pages (like you have a very long career, or have done a ton of volunteer work) it's probably even a good idea to write two pages.
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New post 25 Oct 2013, 19:36
JonAdmissionado wrote:
Hmmmm, I've seen a lot of 2 page resumes too. And I've never seen it harm anyone's application. A few schools want ONLY one page, but besides that I'd say that if you really need 2 pages (like you have a very long career, or have done a ton of volunteer work) it's probably even a good idea to write two pages.

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Is it appropriate to include my year-end performance ratings (i.e. 1 out of 5) in my work experience section if they are strong ratings? Would obviously like to get the credit for achieving a top rating, and it is certainly qualifies as a quantifiable accomplishment. That said, is it too forward to include such a thing?

Also, while it would be great to be specific and say "received 1 rating, awarded to top X% of analysts", unfortunately I don't know exactly what the percentile cutoff is for a top rating? I know anecdotally that a "1 rating" it is is somewhere around the top 10-20% of analysts, but the company does not release an exact figure. Any thoughts on how to represent this?
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New post 17 Mar 2015, 11:17
andy3590 wrote:
Is it appropriate to include my year-end performance ratings (i.e. 1 out of 5) in my work experience section if they are strong ratings? Would obviously like to get the credit for achieving a top rating, and it is certainly qualifies as a quantifiable accomplishment. That said, is it too forward to include such a thing?

Also, while it would be great to be specific and say "received 1 rating, awarded to top X% of analysts", unfortunately I don't know exactly what the percentile cutoff is for a top rating? I know anecdotally that a "1 rating" it is is somewhere around the top 10-20% of analysts, but the company does not release an exact figure. Any thoughts on how to represent this?


I have the same issue. Any thoughts?
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New post 19 Mar 2015, 07:39
This is very useful, thanks for the info! I really liked the part that involves what words to use in bullet points.
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andy3590 wrote:
Is it appropriate to include my year-end performance ratings (i.e. 1 out of 5) in my work experience section if they are strong ratings? Would obviously like to get the credit for achieving a top rating, and it is certainly qualifies as a quantifiable accomplishment. That said, is it too forward to include such a thing?

Also, while it would be great to be specific and say "received 1 rating, awarded to top X% of analysts", unfortunately I don't know exactly what the percentile cutoff is for a top rating? I know anecdotally that a "1 rating" it is is somewhere around the top 10-20% of analysts, but the company does not release an exact figure. Any thoughts on how to represent this?



Basically how to present hings in your resume is up to you. Of course while keeping things factual and truthful, but you have a certain amount of flexibility.

I mean for example, let's say you work on a 10K project, you COULD write "Worked on a 10K project", but that can seem very small. But maybe its HUGE for your industry.. maybe you are into plastic buttons and that's like a billion buttons sold, and it was your biggest contract of the year, then you could rewrite. "Worked on company's biggest project!" Sounds nicer, yeah?

Same thing here. It's okay for you to extrapolate your percentage based on what you know to be true (although not hearsay), but maybe in your case "Received highest rating possible" would sound nicer than "being in top 20%" which seems a bit "normal" to me.

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New post 30 Nov 2015, 08:50
Can we include the revenue part without consulting the company first? I agree that quantifiable data attracts the adcoms but what if the current organization refuses to let us include such data?

Also, during the background checks, are the revenue data points included in the resume verified with the current employer?
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New post 30 Nov 2015, 11:04
andy3590 wrote:
Is it appropriate to include my year-end performance ratings (i.e. 1 out of 5) in my work experience section if they are strong ratings? Would obviously like to get the credit for achieving a top rating, and it is certainly qualifies as a quantifiable accomplishment. That said, is it too forward to include such a thing?

Also, while it would be great to be specific and say "received 1 rating, awarded to top X% of analysts", unfortunately I don't know exactly what the percentile cutoff is for a top rating? I know anecdotally that a "1 rating" it is is somewhere around the top 10-20% of analysts, but the company does not release an exact figure. Any thoughts on how to represent this?


In my opinion, ratings are useless. Ratings are merely used at a work place to recognize employees. In this case it's important to explain what made the company recognize you.

So let's say you received the highest recognition at the company, talk about the cost effective processes you implemented, how many $$ it saved the company, how efficient your team became and how other projects benefited to name a few.

Avoid show-off statements or end results and concentrate on how you lead in a way or another.

Hope that helps :)
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New post 30 Nov 2015, 11:11
ayan5409 wrote:
Can we include the revenue part without consulting the company first? I agree that quantifiable data attracts the adcoms but what if the current organization refuses to let us include such data?

Also, during the background checks, are the revenue data points included in the resume verified with the current employer?


Verify the revenue with the company. If questioned, either say your just interested or explain your MBA application. I've never actually came across a company that had no public revenue record.

If the org. prevents you from including data, work around it with percentages increase (or decrease) for example.
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New post 30 Nov 2015, 13:38
1111111 wrote:
where did you get information that MBA wants only 1 page resume?


Stanford Programs › MBA Program › Admission › Application Materials › Professional Experience (sorry I can't post link)

"Business Resume

Attach your one-page resume. Unless you have a compelling reason, do not submit a resume that is longer than one page. We agree with Laszlo Bock of Google when he suggests, “A good rule of thumb is one page for every ten years of work experience … A crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you.”"
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New post 14 Dec 2015, 12:15
Great article BTW. I just have few questions.

1. I am into art, craft and crochet. Unfortunately there is no way I can show an award or anything related to it. I spend majority of my time creating them. Should I put it on my resume?
2. I have won awards at inter-university chess competition while I was in college. Is it worth adding it?
3. As far as NGO related activities are concerned, I am currently in-charge of all such activities that we do through our company. Again , should I add this?

Thanks in advance for all the answers
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New post 07 Apr 2016, 16:08
Apologies for such a delayed response. I read your query just now.

Here are my responses to your questions:

1. I am into art, craft and crochet. Unfortunately there is no way I can show an award or anything related to it. I spend majority of my time creating them. Should I put it on my resume?

Yes, you can add it in your resume in Additional Information section under a sub heading 'Interests'.

2. I have won awards at inter-university chess competition while I was in college. Is it worth adding it?

Sure. You can mention your awards in 'Education' section

3. As far as NGO related activities are concerned, I am currently in-charge of all such activities that we do through our company. Again , should I add this?

You sure can mention your volunteering activities as part of your ECs.

Good luck!!
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New post 09 Apr 2016, 20:57
How important is previous work experience to admission councelors and how much of it should you highlight on your resume? For someone like myself who doesn't have stellar work experience (data analyst for a healthcare company and no promotion in 4 years), how much of that should i list without having it count against me? Assuming a person has a strong resume aside from the work experience, is it too ambitious to hope to be able be accepted into a top 25 program? Im 28 and a male.

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New post 16 Apr 2016, 18:55
I think part of the reason to limit yourself to one page resume is to force yourself to choose your words carefully. Besides, let's be honest, most people are applying to school with two to five years of work experience. You really don't need more than one page to cover that amount of work experience. If you are, you should probably delete those high school awards off the bottom :)
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