How To Craft The MBA Resume & Data Form

Your resume provides an important overview of your experience. Yet it’s too often overlooked or reduced to an uninspiring list of jobs titles, qualifications, places and dates. Think of it as the opportunity to highlight what you’ve accomplished, convey the qualities you possess, and prioritize the experiences and attributes that underscore your future potential—as succinctly and powerfully as possible.

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Several top business schools, such as Dartmouth Tuck and Harvard, have reduced the number of required essays. This makes a well-crafted and polished CV and biographical data form even more essential.

Your resume provides an important overview of your experience. Yet it’s too often overlooked or reduced to an uninspiring list of jobs titles, qualifications, places and dates. Think of it as the opportunity to highlight what you’ve accomplished, convey the qualities you possess, and prioritize the experiences and attributes that underscore your future potential—as succinctly and powerfully as possible.

My colleagues at Fortuna Admissions and I have evaluated thousands of CVs as former admissions directors and insiders at top tier business schools.

I’ve distilled our best advice to the following recommendations:

  • Focus on progression and pay attention to the details. Just as you tweak your resume depending on the position you’re applying for, tailor your application to each school. Highlight the skills, personality traits and experience that the program is keen on. Spell out actions or accomplishments that led to specific results, not just roles and responsibilities.
  • Articulate how your work impacted your organization, whether it was increasing efficiency, building market-share, saving money or other favorable outcomes. Numbers have greater impact than words. When possible, include the percentage growth you achieved, size of your budget and/or number of people you managed.
  • Reflect the language used by the school. An admissions officer will make the connection and be more likely to see you as a program “fit.” But avoid industry jargon, like financial lingo and unnecessary technical terms.
  • Convey a pattern of leadership. Schools look for a pattern of consistency, not just a one-off situation. So explore where you’ve demonstrated leadership in all job functions as well as community and extracurricular activities.
  • Make it easy on the eye by keeping it simple and to the point. Use concise phrasing; avoid overly complex sentences or unnecessary flourish. Self-edit by using no more than three to five bullet points under each position, in 11- or 12-point font. If you can fit everything to one page, all the better, so remember what you’ve captured on the bio data form to avoid unnecessary repetition.
  • Don’t overlook life outside the office. Schools want applicants who demonstrate a history of involvement in formal extracurricular activities, whether sports, volunteering, or serving on a local board.
  • Finally, edit, proofread, and then edit again. It’s always wise to have a second pair of eyes review and offer feedback on your CV.

Polishing your CV can feel like drudgery (especially after reviewing countless times). But well crafted, it’s a potent snapshot of your candidacy that tells a compelling story.   

Author: Caroline Diarte Edwards. Caroline is a director at MBA admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions and former Director of MBA Admissions at INSEAD.

Related Topics: 

Presenting Your Academic Record In The MBA Application: GPA, GMAT & GRE

Going To Business School With Family 

How To Convey A Powerful Career Vision In Your MBA Application

Self-Reflection And How To Position Your MBA Candidacy

Noodle Pros GRE And GMAT Specialists

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