How to Stand Out As an MBA Applicant? 10 Tips for Writing a Winning Resume

Ever hear of the importance of a first impression?

Your interviewer may take only a few seconds to look at your resume, so it’s given that the first impression should hit the bull’s eye.

You often spend months cramming for the GMAT; obsessing over every word in your essays; rehearse scores of answers to potential interview questions. Yet your resumes remain woefully under polished. We’ve found that MBA applicants typically under-invest in their resume for a combination of two reasons:

  1. Most applicants already have a resume that they’ve used in their professional life. As such, they (mistakenly) feel like they only need to update and tweak it a bit to reflect their latest positions and accomplishments.
  2. Preparing a resume isn’t a brand new endeavour like taking the GMAT, writing essays, or practicing for admissions interviews might be, and so applicants (again mistakenly) feel more comfortable with it.

Under-investing in preparing your resume can fatally damage your application. Here are five solid tips to writing a good, winning MBA resume:

1. Include your strongest material at the top of your resume.

Think of the first couple of inches of your resume as your “spotlight zone” and put your most impressive qualifications and achievements here. You have to convincingly sell yourself.

2. Use vivid details

Don’t just say where you worked or list the responsibilities. Provide details of accomplishments and contributions. Illustrate your impact with concrete numbers.

3. Stick to a one-page resume

Remember, interviewers, don’t have time to sift through more than a single page when they’ve got piles of applications ahead of them.

4. Be as concise as possible

Steer clear of long-winded paragraphs and stick to short bullets. Reduce space spent on old jobs and activities.

5. Include resume ‘extras’

Include some attributes like presentations, hobbies, and relevant volunteer experiences. Indeed, you should not limit yourself with your professional and academic background only.

6. Resume design (Yes, it is as important as its content!)

Imagine that you have to make an elevator pitch – a one-minute presentation of who you are. Basically, a resume is a written and structured version of it.

7. Never make things up

This includes inflating your level of responsibility, or including skills you do not possess. While some information may be revealed during background checks, the other, such as “outstanding communication skills” will be tested in the interview stage.

8. Put your story

You don’t need to provide your entire biography. Pick and choose the points that you think are most important. Come up with creative, straightforward ways to group positions that require less explanation but that still need to be listed.

9. Do not use clichés

Interviewers are exhausted to read or hear words like ‘dynamic,’ ‘self-starter,’ or ‘goal-oriented’.Always add a reason to believe: it is better to show, not tell. Simply writing these big words in the summary section without any proof will hardly be impressive.

10. Proofread and edit

Given the resume format, every word counts and makes a difference, and you certainly don’t want to spoil an impression by a word faux pas. Spell check, grammar check, and style check. Finally, ask a friend to have a close look at your resume to identify errors you may have missed.

Painting an attractive self-portrait is hard, but that’s the key to crafting a winning resume. However, with the above tips, you can certainly put a pretty picture of your resume for the next step of your career.

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