As we’re all
impatiently waiting applications to come out for our target schools, one thing to do is to revise your resume. I have spent the past few weeks tightening mine up. Luckily, I had gone through my resume about a year ago and updated my work experience to that date. Unluckily, I have to scrap most of it. Not that what I had written was bad, quite the contrary; it helped me land a competitive job that I really like. That said, I had really geared it to a target audience that is different from the audience the newest version is intended.
I look at my resume in three phases: First when I was applying from undergrad – this was my worst resume ever. Second when I was applying for my current job about a year ago. And its most current configuration – the one I plan on pinning to my applications in a few months. Certainly, there will be some updating, as I hope to accomplish some things at work before the application deadline. But for now, I have a very tight, present version of my experiences. If you were so lucky to hold the same job for several years, chances are, you’re still sporting a resume that looks a lot like my first resume. Not that there is anything wrong with that, you just have some work to do. Good thing essay season isn’t quite in full swing yet. Below are some tips I got that I thought I’d share with you, in case you too grow tired of waiting for essays and want to make progress towards your applications. While some it may be remedial to some of you, others may find it helpful (i hope).
First, remember what the resume is supposed to be: It is a one-page-picture of your professional accomplishments. It isn’t a place to delve into personal stories, hobbies*. It is a professional document and should be treated as such. That means no pictures, no colored fonts, no script text, no crazy formatting. As far as format goes, there are several great templates online – pick one that is a good fit for how your experiences line up. Additionally, several MBA programs have templates out on the web that they use in their career development office – take a peek at those, but don’t go nuts changing the format for each school you’re applying; that is just silly.
Next, use some form of the STAR method. Situation-Task-Action-Result. That is to say, all of the description lines should flow through that format. Rather than saying “Responsible for writing the best essays ever” say something like “developed a plan to efficiently write 10 essays for 4 MBA programs, resulting in acceptance in all 4 programs”. That leads to the second part of this point: Quantify. Any time you can quantify a description line on your resume, do so.
Finally, don’t lie. I know it seems silly, but there is no benefit to lying on your resume. Sure it may sound great that you lead a team of 20,000 people and saved your company 7 billion dollars, but unless you really did that, it is going to get a serious side-eye from the adcom. Especially when they interview you and you bumble through your story of how that went down. Adcom members are looking for accomplished applicants, sure, but not people who have accomplishments better than F500 CEOs. I mean, think about it: If you’re saying something that is so strong that it portrays you to be several levels above a typical post-MBA role, you’re really going to have to explain that “why MBA” question pretty well.
So my resume is fairly polished at this point, but like I said, it will be a continual edit. I’m glad I got most of the heavy lifting out the way early, so now I can focus on those essays which are coming out…any day now. That said, the resume is a somewhat under appreciated part of applications from an applicant standpoint. It tends to get glossed over, while more focus is placed by applicants on GMAT and essays. Remember that your resume is a picture of all of your work experience – it is much easier to display the entirety here than through several of your essays. Be judicial with what you include, and be sure that all of your points are strong – if things go your way, you’ll be explaining them to an interviewer soon.