Written by: Michelle Miller, CEO ARINGO Americas, [email protected]

The resume (or CV) is a key part of your MBA application that deserves particular attention. A common mistake we see from applicants are resumes that are either too short, too long, or are underwhelming in their descriptions. The first part of our Seven Things to Know Before You Apply Series will cover the dos and don’ts of creating a competitive business school resume.

Do include company descriptions in your resume. If you work for a large, global company this may not be necessary, however small and even mid-sized firms deserve a brief description to contextualize the industry and your role. This is especially important for organizations that are not based in the same country as the school. If you’re not sure whether the admissions committee will recognize the brand, take a moment to describe your employer.

Do consider formatting and length. Avoid graphics, colors, or special fonts (just like in your undergraduate courses, stick with good old Arial or Times New Roman). Use the same size font throughout the document, and limit your resume to one page. Repeat: one page. The admissions committees review hundreds to thousands of resumes – don’t be the applicant who failed to describe himself clearly and concisely.

Don’t state positions or titles only. Each position should be highlighted with key accomplishments and impressive responsibilities. See above though – space is limited, so keep this section to 3-4 bullet points per position. Use quantitative measurements wherever possible. Note any special honors, or other notable recognition received at work. Finally, demonstrate a connection between your current career and your future goals.

Do include extracurricular activities, particularly volunteerism. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase who you are as a person, not “just” as a professional. Just as you did in the professional section, highlight accomplishments, awards, and other achievements to demonstrate your success and dedication. Describe the mission of the organization where you volunteer. Bonus points for a connection between your career path and your role at the organization.

Remember, your resume is one of the first documents the admissions committee will review. Don’t make the common mistake of submitting a “bare bones” list of responsibilities, or a multiple-page, mini-booklet detailing every project you’ve been a part of. Provide context, highlight your contributions and accomplishments, and be concise. You are special – prove it!


NEXT: Hacking the MBA Applications – Part Two: How to Find Your Post-MBA Career Goals for your MBA Application