If you are aspiring to be an MBA candidate, you should approach this challenge with a professional resume to best position yourself to potential schools.
This guide will share with you everything you need to know about the MBA candidate resume writing process.
If you’d prefer to just download the full MBA candidate resume template in this guide, you can purchase it here.
About MBA Candidate Resumes
A successful graduate knows the value they can add to organizations and what sets their work apart from other graduates. While you are aware of your strengths and know how to communicate them, when it comes time to create a resume, it can be difficult to convey all this in a clear, organized, and persuasive manner. Your goal is to apply to an MBA program; however, you don’t know how to market your resume to potential schools.
First, take a look at your professional and educational history to create your story. What skills did college give you? What are your key achievements? What characteristics make you an asset for the success and culture of an organization? Next, you need to research industry trends and identify the characteristics that top schools are seeking.
Recent graduates may feel that they don’t have enough to highlight on their resumes and are uncertain how to get started on the process. It’s completely normal to feel this way. College students learn a wide range of skills that they can use in the workplace. Take a look at your classes, internships, and projects from this perspective.
Next, write a resume that highlights the skills and attributes that distinguish you from your competition. This information should be communicated concisely and convincingly. There are generally guidelines that professional resumes should adhere to, but there are different standards for length, language and additional information depending on the industry. Our team of career advancement experts is skilled in understanding these idiosyncrasies, drafting professional resumes that create and reflect your brand, and maximize your presentation to the potential school.
After reviewing this guide and looking at our samples of resumes, you may decide to use a professional resume-writing service. This will allow you to save considerable time that could be used to explore potential MBA schools and expand your network.
The MBA Candidate Resume in Context
Applying for an MBA program can be an intimidating task even for professionals at the top. There is constant dynamic change in many industries due to the advancements of both technology and the workforce. However, getting into an MBA program is also continuously changing. A tactical approach is necessary to be noticed and secure an interview with a school. Additionally, significant research and preparation, along with the resume-writing strategies discussed in this guide, can position your resume to pass through applicant tracking system (ATS) software used by many schools to screen applicants.
Once you’ve researched MBA programs and have a good understanding of what they expect, you can start to plan how you will present your work history and education. It is crucial to consider how an outsider will view your resume. This will help you ensure that the narrative flows throughout the document. Consider what each role has contributed to your current position. What were your greatest achievements? Which of your major achievements had the greatest impact? These answers will paint a picture for potential schools about the unique contributions you can make to their school.
A compelling resume should be detailed and clearly show your accomplishments. It should be concise and clean. These are some general guidelines to help you create a perfect resume.
- Aesthetic Appeal: Content aside, your resume should look appealing and grab the reader’s attention. You should ensure consistency in spacing and formatting.
- Captivating Introduction: In the first few lines of the resume, you should clearly state what your unique contribution to the school is. This information is included in the executive summary at the beginning of the resume.
- Highlighted Achievements: You should discuss your notable achievements in detail on your resume. Data-driven evidence should be provided that supports the contributions of these accomplishments.
- Attention to Detail: Make sure you are free of any spelling or formatting errors in your document that could distract from the strength of your narrative. To keep the resume short and concise, it is important to count words. Articles such as “a”, or “the” should be omitted. Pronouns should be avoided as they can increase the word count.
- Readability: Assume that your resume will be seen by many people, some of who might not be from your industry. Avoid using technical language, and make sure to spell out acronyms from the beginning. You might think that everyone is familiar with the meaning of an acronym, but this is not always the case.
MBA applications require a different approach to resumes than professional resumes. As in all resumes, it’s important to show your education and career history, but with MBA candidate resumes, it’s just as important to highlight your leadership experience. Professionals in the MBA program are ambitious and future leaders, so it’s important you position yourself this way on the resume.
MBA Candidate Resume Presentation
Simple, elegant formatting is key to creating appealing and effective resumes. While you might see some fancy resume designs, they can distract from the intended impact of your resume’s content. In resume-writing, it is important to be concise. According to the guidelines for resume writing, your resume should not exceed 1,000 words and be no more than two pages. This is true for MBA candidates, as well. However, if you do not have a lot of relevant experience, a one-page resume is more acceptable.
It is tempting to make your resume flashy in the hope that it will draw more attention. Although it may attract more attention, it might not be in the way you want. This strategy can actually have the opposite effect. Busy hiring managers don’t have much time to review resumes and need to make an immediate decision about whether to move forward with your application. If your resume is overly complex or the formatting obscures important information, potential schools or employers may choose to pass on sending you to the next step.
Your resume should reflect your accomplishments, so it’s even more important that your design is well-organized and efficient. Professional resumes are easy to read, but professional. Instead of displaying your achievements in a distracting layout, let them shine.
When viewing a resume from an aesthetic perspective, it is important to consider what potential schools see. This is why the strategic use of white space is essential. A clean design, with well-presented information that can quickly and easily be scanned, is the goal of a professional resume.
Your document design should be well-organized and formatted using clear sections, section headings and clear titles, bold job titles, bulleted achievements, and concise job descriptions. Avoid using any photos or other graphic or excessive colors as they can distract from your content. If creativity is important to include, use it toward sharing your career success story and show potential schools or employers why you’re the best candidate through your accomplishments.
We’ve covered the major considerations in creating a professional-looking resume. Now let’s talk about how to present and optimize resume content.
After a successful initial screening of your resume, it goes without saying that your contact information is crucial so that you can be easily reached by an educational institution. This information should appear at the top of the resume, as shown in the below example.
Some important points to note:
- Only your city and state are listed.
- Choose only one email address. This should be your personal email and not one that is associated with your current job.
- Add your LinkedIn profile URL for an additional way an employer can reach you. This will allow you to showcase yourself as a professional with a personal brand.
- Add your phone number as an alternative method of outreach.
Job Title and Summary
Your job title at the top of your resume should read MBA candidate. Remember, this document is intended to help you target your next challenge. This section may require some customization depending on which school you are applying.
Studies have shown that MBA recruiters read only the first few sentences of a resume before deciding whether they will continue to review it. This means that your opening lines need to be powerful. The professional summary is directly below the job title. It begins with your unique value proposition, or elevator pitch. Your unique value proposition outlines your most important accomplishments and how they have helped you to be successful in your next role. Use descriptive language to clearly define who you are and what sets you apart from your peers.
An Example UVP for an MBA Candidate:
Results-focused MBA candidate with extensive knowledge of HR, employment law, compliance, and compensation.
Use this UVP to guide you. Following, write 3-5 sentences that discuss key attributes that are both unique to you and align with the targeted role. Use active and direct language to communicate what you contribute and why it has been successful for the organizations where you have played a major role. This will communicate to potential schools your skills and accomplishments that can be used to support their growth and strategic vision.
An example Professional Summary for an MBA Candidate may Look Like the Following:
Results-focused MBA candidate with extensive knowledge of HR, employment law, compliance, and compensation. Demonstrated strong business acumen across several classes, working collaboratively with team members to deliver presentations and projects. Successfully balanced working and college while excelling in courses. Attended many workshops and group meetings to further strengthen HR and management knowledge. Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access) and internet research.
You may have difficulty narrowing down the focus of your professional summary. Review the job descriptions for your target role and choose those that best match your language and scope. To create your customized professional summary and UVP, research what educational institutions are looking to hire for your potential role. Consider both your hard skills describing your abilities and your soft skills highlighting your personal characteristics.
Avoid using flashy, wordy language in your resume and use industry-specific keywords wherever possible. This will help you target your resume for the job you want and reinforce your knowledge of your field.
MBA Candidate Keywords
It is important to know the role keywords play in aligning your professional summary with the one of an MBA candidate in your field. It is possible for even the most qualified candidates to not be invited to interview because their resume did not score well enough on the school’s ATS. Optimize your resume language to avoid this. Review the job description and choose the keywords and phrases that best match the position.
Additionally, there are also skills and attributes that every MBA Candidate is expected to possess, as well as specific types of accomplishments that stand out. Below is a table of keywords that are common for applicants. This list is by no means comprehensive and should complement the list you generate from reviewing MBA candidate descriptions. The list will vary depending on the concentration of your MBA program. The example below is focused on students studying human resources.
- Human Resources Management
- Regulatory Compliance
- Recruitment and Hiring
- Workers’ Compensation
- Employment Law
- Business Management
- Management Strategy
- Employee Relations
- Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal Relations
- Cross-functional Collaboration
- Written and Verbal Communications
- Hands-On Leadership
- Business Acumen
Areas of Expertise (Skills and Competencies for an MBA Candidate)
Once you have created a list with keywords you want to include in the document, you can begin drafting the next section by listing 6-10 bulleted areas where you are an expert. These keywords should be matched with those used in the job description. ATS systems will scan for verbatim matches. For example, if the description refers to artificial intelligence, you should not use AI. The acronym can be spelled out as follows: artificial intelligence (AI). In addition, this list can also include both soft and hard skills.
Keep these areas in mind and think about how you can highlight them on your resume. You can also include a section highlighting notable achievements, which will be listed next to the areas of expertise. These achievements should not be duplicated in later documents if you decide to previously list them. Remember, less is always more in resumes!
As a graduate student, you may not have accomplishments to highlight and that is ok and expected!
Employment History/Professional Experience/Internships
This section is the basis on which you can further explain your professional summary or UVP to provide details about your career. Although it will include descriptions of your responsibilities position-by-position, it should be presented in a way that reflects the evolution of your career in a clear, concise way and in reverse chronological order. To avoid ageism, limit your career scope to the past 10-15 years and highlight your most recent history.
The name of the organization and the location should be listed for each position, as well as the number of years you have worked there (you could include months, but this tends to clutter the resume). Your job titles should be included along with a brief description of the key responsibilities and bulleted achievements that highlight your contribution to the role. When drafting the bullets, try to employ the C-A-R method (challenge-action-results) to phrase them: outline the challenge, the specific actions you took to address it, and the results that were achieved. While quantifiable data may increase the impact of your role, not all roles measure results in this way. However, if you do have numbers, it is a good idea to include them in your resume.
Avoid repetition and keep your document concise and clear. Remove any repetitive skills and achievements and concentrate on the ones that are most important to the recruiter reading your resume. Remember, you only have a few pages to sell your career story. Therefore, you need to use compelling language and information that highlights your unique contributions. Avoid using phrases such as “responsible for” as they don’t convey what you’ve actually done. Instead, use action words like lead, drive, or direct. You should use the present tense for your current role, and the past tense for your previous roles. This will ensure consistency across all descriptions. Remember that bullets must always be written in the past tense because they refer to achievements that have already been accomplished.
If you choose to list roles not relevant to the program, which is sometimes important if you want to show you do have some work experience, these can be listed without dates in an Additional Experience section with the company, location, and job titles listed.
Education & Professional Development
Now that you’ve painted a picture of your career history, it’s time to discuss your education and professional development. In this section, you’ll want to list your degrees and the universities from which you obtained them. If you have just graduated in the past year, it is ok to list the graduation year. Otherwise, leave it off. Since most students do not have a lot of professional experience, it’s ok to list courses and relevant leadership roles under your education. The list should be targeted and concise if you choose to do this.
Additionally, you’ll want to list any relevant professional certifications and licenses you have obtained. These should be listed in order of significance.
There are other sections you can add to your resume if you have remaining space. For example:
- Professional Affiliations
- Languages (if relevant to the desired position)
- Volunteer/Community Service
This section may be difficult to highlight for a lot of graduates, so writing a resume for an MBA application requires a lot of creativity. Community activities are often great leadership examples, so list them! Many colleges also have clubs focused on your major, which is also important information to include.
It is not necessary to include any additional information unless it is relevant to the job you are applying for. Avoid listing extra information, such as hobbies, that could devalue your resume and are not the best use of valuable real estate on your document.
Finished MBA Candidate Resume
After you have completed your resume, look at it from both a holistic and aesthetic point of view, as well as in detail. Take a look at your resume from the perspective of an outside reader and consider how it might be viewed and understood. Think about the following questions:
- Does the resume describe who I am and my achievements in a quick and succinct manner? Would you want to learn more about this candidate?
- Is the resume confidently written using action words?
- Is your resume too long or too wordy?
- Do you see any typos, or errors in grammar or formatting?
You should then have another person (preferably a peer in your industry) look over and proofread your resume. Even the best writers need another eye to catch mistakes, and you don’t want to be disqualified from your dream MBA program over a simple spelling error.
Next Steps & Our Services
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This guide should have given you some insight into the complexity of creating a professional and compelling resume. Many professionals, like you, seek help in creating a resume that is both results-driven and position them for the next stage of their careers. A well-written resume is worth the time and can make all the difference in getting a call back in a matter of weeks or months.
We are a full-service, leading career advancement service that works exclusively with professionals like yourself. Our decades of experience help our clients get hired quicker and negotiate higher compensation packages. We will identify your unique talent brand and bring out the best in you, positioning you to be the best candidate for your next challenge.
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Our resume packages have proven to assist candidates to land that interview. If you’d prefer to create your resume yourself, but could benefit from our MBA Candidate resume sample, a template is available for you to purchase.