When applying to an MBA program, the most important document is your CV or resume.
Q: I already have a standard CV/resume which helped me get my current job. Can I use it?
A: in short, no!
Most MBA programs require a 1 page resume in their applications. Your MBA resume should focus on your professional and educational background, and highlight your achievements. Following are key pointers in crafting your B-school CV:
The “CV Speak” language
The MBA CV is limited in space, so we use a simple language we like to call “CV Speak”:
We suggest you:
- Drop any word or sentence that is not likely to promote the admission drivers (e.g., leadership, teamwork, creativity, initiative, more).
- If you can say something in two different ways, say it the shorter way.
- Consider a “word economy” structure. In CVs you may omit words like “a” and “the” (even if grammatically incorrect). For example:
- Words such as “of”, “for”, “in”, “which”, “that” should raise a flag and may be unnecessary.
- Try to avoid using words such as “I”, “my”, “our”
- Use the word “and” as little as possible. Instead keep your sentences succinct.
Here are several examples:
- instead of “The largest bank in Canada” use: “Canada’s largest bank“
- Instead of “A project worth a million USD dollars” use: “$1 million project “
- Instead of: “Negotiated deal terms and structure with the CEO “ use: “Negotiated deal terms with CEO”
What you do at work is less important. What you achieved at work is vital!
Responsibilities and achievements usually start with a “power verb”
(Led, Designed, Managed, Created…)
- Avoid using subjective terms such as “excellent” or “fast”, use facts and objective terms only.
- If the numbers related to the responsibility / achievement are large / impressive, provide them. Otherwise, don’t.
- “Sales increased 200%”
- “Manage a team of 4 engineers”
The results sentences are specific facts.
The result should include numbers whenever possible.
- “Led the second largest sale in the company’s 20-year history.”
- “Led post-merger strategy development. Net income increased by 15% within two years.”
If the company is not known, or if you aren’t sure, use a line or two to describe it. Include key facts like annual revenue, office locations, or even comparisons to well-known organizations.
- Latin America’s Largest telecommunications company
- 2nd largest media publication organization by market share
- Europe’s oldest financial institution in Europe, earning 2.2 billion in annual revenues
Avoid non-relevant information
Finally, a few things not to include in your resume for business school:
- An objective or summary
- Your objective is obvious (to get into business school!), and the summary will be redundant since your skills and experience will already be laid out clearly as outlined above. Also, space is precious – you won’t have room for this!
- High school education
- Limit the education section to college only, please. High school was too long ago.
- Careful with hobbies! Stick to interesting and unique facts that build up your profile.
- Climbed Mt. Everest? Include!
- Avid Netflix watcher? Skip.
- Black belt in Taekwondo? Include!
- Vineyard enthusiast? Skip.
Remember, your CV/resume is a critical component of your application and should be carefully constructed to highlight your accomplishments clearly and succinctly. Use the space wisely, avoid irrelevant information or repetitive statements, and use measurable outcomes to illustrate your success.
Michelle Miller is the CEO of ARINGO Americas (www.ARINGO.com), a PhD candidate, and an ardent lover of dogs and coffee.
ARINGO MBA Consulting has helped over 4000 candidates get accepted to the business schools of their dreams. Visit www.ARINGO.com today to check out free resources and schedule a complimentary consultation.