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Six Steps That Got Me Into The INSEAD MBA

INSEAD MBA Abhishek Sahay says to impress an admissions committee, your business school resume must shine.

Thu Jul 16 2015

First impressions matter. For your MBA application, your resume is a chance to shine. Applicants tend to spend months on the GMAT, obsess over every word in their essays, but under-invest in their resume. Big mistake.

Admissions committees typically spend less than a minute evaluating your resume. Think of that for a moment. Several years of your professional achievements will be judged in less than one minute. You have no excuse not to make your resume powerful, appealing and convincing. It must promote your strengths, highlight your key achievements and demonstrate that you have the skills to sit among high-achievers in an MBA classroom.

Follow these tips to ensure that your resume stands out:

Use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method: This approach is a powerful tool in crafting your resume, and provides a clear view of your professional achievements. In each position you have held, provide the context - what specifically you did and how it helped achieve the objective. It’s important that you highlight your achievements, not the accomplishments of your team.

Leverage the “primetime” space: The strongest content needs to be on top. The first two inches of each section are your primetime space – and it is where you can indicate your major strengths. For example: “Achieved 20% reduction in cost,” should be prioritized over, say: “Conducted training session for new team members.”

Stick to one page: Not only does a two-page resume take more time to read, it shows that you do not have the ability to communicate in fewer words; this is a critical skill, and you need to demonstrate this both in your essays and your resume.

Senior business leaders with decades of experience are able to create a crisp, one-page resume. There’s no reason why you should not. Don’t aim to be exhaustive. Choose the most relevant, high-impact work.

Quantify, quantify, quantify: Push yourself to quantify your achievements – your resume should contain many % and $. Saying: “I achieved significant reductions in cost” doesn’t mean anything. What was the percentage of savings? How many people did you train? How many new clients did you get on-board?

Avoid irrelevant information: Admissions departments do not care whether you are married or not, or whether you are tall or short. Also, avoid generic “career objectives” or your “vision”. Save the rhetoric.

Get a second look: It’s easy to overlook common mistakes. Re-look at your resume after a break with a fresh set of eyes.

Abhishek Sahay is studying for MBA at INSEAD and is an MBA advisor at AdmitHour.