Start Working on Your Resume Now!
We at mbaMission
encourage candidates to get as much “noise” out of the way as possible before business schools begin releasing their essay questions and they have to start writing applications. We want our applicants to have the freedom and time to reflect on their experiences, formally and thoroughly brainstorm, choose ideas, prepare outlines and then focus on crafting powerful essays. Essentially, we want them to be unfettered as they engage in what is, for many, one of the most significant creative challenges they will ever face.
So, a simple step such as preparing your resume now will allow you to concentrate better on the other elements of your application in the future. By working on your resume now—a process that can require several rounds of revisions—you can dedicate the time to do so at a more leisurely pace, before “crunch time” hits. Further, you will lay the foundation for brainstorming for your essays later, by reminding yourself of your most significant accomplishments.
We recognize that you may achieve additional accomplishments in the next few months, of course. However, we still suggest that you update your resume now and then revisit and amend it as needed one to two weeks before your application deadlines.
In your resume, make sure that you are showcasing your accomplishments, not merely stating responsibilities. When only your responsibilities are presented—with no accompanying results—the reader has no understanding of whether you were effective in the role you are highlighting. For example, consider the following resume entry, in which only responsibilities are offered:
2005–Present Home Products Group, The Jason Company Cincinnati, Ohio
- Responsible for managing a $10M media campaign, supervising a staff of five junior brand managers, monitoring daily sales volumes and ensuring the consistent supply of product from five production facilities in three countries.
This kind of entry leaves the reader wondering, “Was the media campaign successful? Did the staff of five progress? Did sales volumes increase? Did the supply of products reach its destination?” When this one large bullet point is instead broken down into individual bulleted entries that elaborate on each task and show clear results, the reader learns not just about the candidate’s responsibilities, but also about that person’s ultimate effectiveness and successes. Consider the following example:
2008–Present The Jason Company Cincinnati, Ohio
- Initiated $10M television/Internet “Island Vacation” promotion introducing new Shine brand detergent, surpassing first-year sales targets within three months.
- Mentored and supervised five junior brand managers, each of whom was promoted to brand manager (company traditionally promotes 25%).
- Analyzed daily sales volumes and identified opportunity to increase price point in Midwest, resulting in 26% margin improvement and $35M in new profits.
- Secured “safety supply” of vital chemicals from alternate suppliers, ensuring 99% order fulfillment.
By comparing the first entry for The Jason Company with the second, you can see how much more effective an accomplishment-driven resume is than one that simply states responsibilities.
You should present quantifiable results in your resume whenever possible, because such results clearly convey your success in the actions you undertook. However, in some instances, you simply cannot quantify your success. In such cases, you can instead demonstrate nonquantifiable or even potential results. Consider the following examples:
- Persuaded management to review existing operations; currently leading Manufacturing Review Committee, which will table its final report in June 2012.
- Established divisional continuing education series, noted on review as “crucial” and “game changing.”
- Initiated biweekly “Tuesday at Five” team social event, resulting in enhanced workplace morale.
In each of these sample bullets, the results of the writer’s actions are not measurable, but they are nonetheless important. The accomplishments, while “soft,” are conveyed as clearly positive.
Ideally, your resume should be only one page long; admissions committees generally expect and appreciate the conciseness of this format. If you choose to submit a two-page resume or longer, your reader may have difficulty scanning it and identifying (and remembering) important facts. With these space constraints in mind, we offer two fairly straightforward “space saver” ideas:
1. Do not include a mission statement at the beginning of your resume. Your mission in this case is to get into the MBA program to which you are applying—and, of course, the admissions committee already knows this!
2. Only your name should appear at the top of your resume. You do not need to include your address, email address, gender, marital status, etc., because these data will all be provided in your application form.
Please, resist the urge to make your resume fit on one page by shrinking your font or margins. Your font should be no smaller than 10 point type, and your margins should be no smaller than 1” on either side and 0.75” at the top and bottom. Rather than trying to fit too much information on the page, commit yourself instead to showcasing only your most important accomplishments that tell your story best.Have questions about applying to business school? Sign up for a free, 30-minute, one-one-one consultation with an mbaMission senior consultant at www.mbamission.com/consult.php. Also, be sure to check out the mbaMission Resume Guide to help you further with your business school application resume!
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