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How to Write a Resume for MBA Admissions Applications

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: December 10, 2016)

Applicants often spend months cramming for the GMAT; they obsess over every word in their essays; they rehearse scores of answers to potential interview questions. Yet their resumes remain woefully under polished, despite the fact that top MBA programs are putting a greater emphasis on a candidate’s CV while slashing essay requirements.

I’ve found that MBA applicants typically underinvest in their essays for a combination of two reasons:

  1. Most applicants already have a resume that they’ve used in their professional life. As such, they (mistakenly) feel like they only need to update and tweak it a bit to reflect their latest positions and accomplishments.
  2. Preparing a resume isn’t a brand new endeavor like taking the GMAT, writing essays, or practicing for admissions interviews might be, and so applicants (again mistakenly) feel more comfortable with it.

Underinvesting in preparing your resume can fatally damage your application, and unfortunately it is a mistake applicants make far too often. So, as you consider your application to business school, here are a few tips on how to write a resume that will impress admissions committees.

How to Write a Resume for MBA Admissions Applications

While we’ve provided some good tips in our 10-step guide to preparing a resume, there is a lot more to consider.

Start from scratch. I can appreciate that applying for business school is a lot of work. You have to invest a ton of time in writing essays and studying for the GMAT, and one corner you can easily cut is recycling an old resume with a fresh coat of paint. But you shouldn’t. First, resumes are often documents that are built over time, and the content at the bottom tends to linger a little longer than its optimal shelf life. We become better writers with practice, and our narrative changes over time. Your resume – your whole resume – needs to reflect both of these evolutions. Second, resumes for MBA applications need to be written through a whole different lens. Consider the following bullet point, some version of which I see on almost all candidates’ resumes:

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