The resume is often the first document that admissions officers read and it informs their initial impression of a candidate. It is the only place where the entire candidacy is laid out on a single page. And it is often the only piece of information sent to interviewers.
Here are some guidelines for crafting a stellar resume:
Limit it to one page
MBA candidates typically have between three and six years of work experience, which must be summarized on just one page.
Exceeding the one-page maximum or word-count - which is mandated by several schools - is an annoyance of both admissions officers and potential employers. It suggests that the candidate cannot communicate concisely.
However, do not make the font size smaller than 10-point to fit everything you think is necessary; if it doesn’t fit, you can eliminate details.
Exclude unnecessary information
Unless they specifically ask for it, admissions officers do not need to know your high school accomplishments. And they don’t wish to see your height/weight/date of birth or a headshot.
If you have extremely technical experience, spare the admissions officers the esoteric details – it will not make you seem as intelligent as you think. Including your personal interests at the bottom of the page is acceptable, but list items that make you stand out and can serve as icebreakers during interviews.
Being interested in reading and eating is not as noteworthy as having completed two marathons, or having written a cookbook. Your GPA and GMAT score are acceptable additions if they are above the b-school’s averages.
Be specific about your accomplishments and quantify them when possible
Consider the difference between “conducted analysis to inform a strategic partnership” and “directed an international team of five in conducting rigorous analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of a co-promotion contract for a 300-member sales force. Evaluation led to termination of the $20M strategic partnership”.
The former statement is accurate and succinct, but boring. The latter statement truly captures the individual’s international leadership experience, analytical abilities and impact. Sizing the task (300-member sales force, $20M partnership) demonstrates to admissions officers that the project was high-profile and had material importance to the company.
Follow the specific b-school’s format
You can typically locate resume books and sample resumes on b-schools’ Career Services websites. Take note of the resumes’ indentations, use of white space, font sizes, font style (e.g. bolding, italics) and incorporate them into your own document.
Whatever you do, be consistent. Do not use bullets in one area and dashes in another. Do not list dates for your education on the left side of the page and dates of your work experience on the right side.
Writing an exemplary business school resume can assist you in standing out in the admissions process, and it can also provide you with a head-start on landing the career of your dreams.
Sunil Parekh is a professional GMAT tutor for Varsity Tutors. He scored a 770 on the GMAT and will graduate Columbia Business School’s Executive MBA program in 2015. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University.