An MBA application resume can only be as good as the candidate it represents — but it is possible for an otherwise great candidate to create a lackluster resume and harm his or her chances for admission.
While most resume preparation tips in books and on the web are about creating a resume for a job search, this article is written specifically with MBA candidates in mind. The purpose of this post is to help you to understand the three most important things admissions officers are looking for when they review an MBA application resume. They are:
- Career Progress; and
- Career Readiness
Without a doubt, the most important thing admissions officers or an admissions interviewer will be screening for is evidence of your leadership capabilities. The contents of your resume, right down to the action verbs you use in your bullet points, will reveal a great deal about whether you have truly been a leader or just a follower. Remember that admissions officers want to see a “habit of leadership,” which means that it is important to also highlight leadership outside of work in community service organizations and other settings.
Who you have worked for matters but what you have accomplished in your career thus far matters even more. Admissions officers will be looking to see the extent of your responsibilities, what you have achieved in each role, and whether or not your responsibilities have increased over the course of your career. A general manager must manage people from many different disciplines; therefore, demonstrating via your resume that your skills and knowledge span different organizational functions will give you an advantage when applying for an MBA.
When you are applying for an MBA, you are also, in a sense, applying for the job you want when you graduate. It follows that an admissions officer will review your resume with your career goals essay in mind to determine if the skills, knowledge, and experiences featured on your resume are aligned with your career goals or not. In some ways, the admissions officer acts as a proxy for future recruiters who work for the kinds of firms you aspire to work for. Your resume must clearly indicate that you have the capabilities (i.e., skills, knowledge, and relationships) to be competitive in the career arena you plan to enter after graduating with your MBA.
Distilling all of your academic, professional, and personal achievements into a single page (possibly two) is far from easy. With effort, your resume can serve as a powerful marketing tool to differentiate you from the competition applying for an MBA. Now that you have a better understanding of what admissions committees are looking for in your MBA application resume, you can start to create the building blocks for a resume that will increase your chances of earning an acceptance letter.