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MBA Resume: 12 Tips for Writing a Compelling MBA Resume

Are you looking for some advice and tips on how to create a compelling MBA resume?

A winning MBA resume quickly conveys the following all in one concise page:

• your primary accomplishments and qualifications,

• your personal brand and

• reasons why MBA admissions boards at top MBA programs want to admit you

So, how do you create such a powerful document?

In this article, you’ll learn 12 ways for creating a powerful, effective and concise MBA resume that will serve as a cornerstone for your MBA application.

And an important building block for the rest of the application.

Why A Compelling MBA Resume?

The resume is one of the first things that MBA admissions board members look at when reviewing an application.

And it’s often one of the best concrete indicators of an applicant’s qualifications.

Some admissions board members may only spend one or two minutes looking at your resume.

So, what’s your job here?

Make sure that your resume comes across as compelling in those one or two minutes.

How can you create a compelling MBA resume?

In our video, How to Prepare Your Resume for Your MBA Application, we give you these five tips on how to do just that:

• Keep it short

• Quantify your impact

• Reinforce your brand image

• Make the right first impression

• Avoid errors and jargon

Now that you’ve watched the video, you’ve learned five ways to create a resume that helps you get the attention of the MBA admissions committees.

But you’ll need to invest more time and energy if you want your resume – and your b-school applications – to really stand out in the MBA applicant pool.

Here’s a few more MBA resume tips to help you do just that.

mba resume

Know Your Differentiators

If you’ve been through our personal branding process, you’ll know the key personal brand themes that you want to emphasize in your MBA application.

These brand themes are your differentiators – what sets you apart from other qualified applicants.

To build an effective MBA resume, you must know which skills you want to emphasize and why.

For example, if cultural fluency is an important part of your personal brand, you should build your resume to highlight your work in different cultures.

Lead With Your Strengths

A resume isn’t simply a laundry list of accomplishments.

It’s your marketing document.

While you must be absolutely truthful, you can and should arrange information to show off your best differentiators first.

This means leading with your strengths.

When you explain each position you have held, start off with your most impressive achievement or duty in that position.

In the two examples below, which example is more compelling example of the MBA applicant’s job?

Example A

Account Manager, ABC Financial Services Firm
Managed financial portfolios of fifteen clients, developed investment strategies and increased client revenues by more than 15%.

Example B

Account Manager, ABC Financial Services Firm
Generated a 15% revenue increase for fifteen clients by developing investment strategies and managing financial portfolios.

Do you see why Example B is more compelling?

It immediately communicates the impact the candidate had on the job – a 15% revenue increase – and then explains the more general duties of the job.

Use Stats

People, and especially MBA candidates, are wired to remember and focus on statistics.

Use that to your advantage.

Take the time to count the number of new deals that you were responsible for, or the number of new clients you brought in, or the revenue growth that one of your projects generated.

The numbers don’t have to be exact – you can use percentages and approximations, especially if you are working with more sensitive information.

Admissions board members read many applications each day.

If you can give them a simple, powerful statistic to remember about your work, it will work to your advantage.


Focus on Action

When explaining a job on your resume, focus on what you accomplished in the job, instead of simply providing a job description.

Use active verbs.

For example:

• A passive resume entry would say, “Was responsible for relationship management of six clients.”

• An active resume entry would say, “Built relationships with six clients and earned new contracts by consistently growing those relationships.”

Look through your resume and see if you spot any forms of the verb, “to be,” i.e. is, was, are.

If you do, you’re likely using the passive voice in those places.

Look for ways to change over to more active verbs.

Balance Hard and Soft Skills

MBA admissions boards are looking for an MBA resume that shows both hard and soft skills.

So, your primary aim should be twofold:

1. Demonstrate that you have the analytical skills necessary to complete rigorous quantitative coursework in business school.

This is especially important if you’re coming from a nontraditional MBA background.

You should add any supplementary quantitative classes that you’ve taken, and include information about any research or analytical work that you have done.

2. Demonstrate that you are a good teammate.

Most top MBA programs operate around teams.

Students are subdivided into sections and expected to the complete the majority of their assignments in a team setting.

Consequently, admissions board members are looking for stellar team players.

Your resume should include examples of your success within teams, both as a leader of a team and as a rank-and-file team member.

Don’t Be Afraid of Diversity

There is no one formula for writing that perfect MBA resume.

Many b-school applicants worry that they don’t have the “typical’ MBA background. ‘

Remember that MBA admissions boards at elite MBA programs are not looking for “typical”.

They’re looking for extraordinary.

They want a diverse class from different backgrounds and industries, and with different points of view in the working world.

Sure, they’re looking for consultants and bankers.

But they’re also looking for entrepreneurs, tech gurus, public servants, healthcare workers, and many more.

Remember – be yourself.

If you attempt to be something you are not, you are not only misleading the b-school, but significantly cutting your MBA admission chances.

After all, do you really want to look like every other applicant that comes through their file?

Or do you want to shine as an individual?

You need to build a resume that shows how you are different.


I know that I’ve just told you to include a lot of information in your resume.

Now, I’m going to remind you to pack that information into very few words.

Your resume should ideally be one page, and certainly not more than two.

This means that you must be very concise in your language, and make every word count towards your larger meaning.

Don’t waste words on unimportant subjects.

Instead, focus your energy on the information that will help you convey your brand themes and key differentiators.

As far as MBA resume formatting guidelines, here are a few to keep in mind:

• Don’t use a font size smaller than 10 point.

• Use a simple, clean and professional font, such as Times New Roman.

• Don’t make your margins extremely small just to cram more words on the page. This never looks good.

• Focus on making the resume easy to read. Your format should be simple, clean and should not distract the reader from your information.

Next Steps

In this article, you’ve learned 12 ways for creating a compelling MBA resume that’ll serve as a cornerstone for your MBA application and an important building block for the rest of the application.

With these tips, you should be able to get started in developing a great MBA resume that will be a building block for the rest of your MBA application.

Remember that your resume truly will set the tone of the application, for both you and your reader.

Give yourself enough time to put the effort in and create a truly great starting point.

So, do you have any questions about your MBA resume?

Just post a comment here or on our Facebook page.

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