The CV/resume is often the first part of an MBA application package that admissions officers browse through and the closer it is to an executive resume, the better it will demonstrate your potential for management studies and career.
Why your resume matters
MBA degree studies are targeted at aspiring managers who are heading towards business leadership positions. However, they build upon the experience, insights, and lessons that the MBA participants have learned. Thus, MBA programs require that applicants have at least two or three years of professional experience. AdComs look carefully into the CV/resume, because it is the quality of your experience that can give you an edge in gaining a place in the MBA classroom, not just the number of years that you have spent working full-time.
How to craft a strong resume for your MBA application
We can look for guidelines on how to transform your junior CV/resume into an executive one. There are some basic tips most professionals are aware of when it comes to perfecting and personalizing their CV/resume. Always keep it short without compromising on the most important points and achievements. Customize the content so that it is relevant to the receiver.
Check out: MBA CV/resume Preparation Coaching
The CV/resume should act as a mirror to your professionalism and future aspirations so as to paint a coherent picture of you for the MBA admissions team. But what else should you pay attention to when updating your executive resume?
Differences between junior and executive resumes
One of the first factors to keep in mind when compiling a strong CV/resume is the level of the position you are ultimately targeting after MBA graduation. Professionals reaching out for more senior leadership positions need to reflect this in their communication from the start. Career and business writer Charley Mendoza elaborates on several key differences between a junior and an executive-level resume.
For example, while a more junior professional may list common accomplishments at the workplace as a team member as well as academic studies and internships, the resume of someone with the ambition to grow as an executive is supposed to emphasize “contribution to related jobs in a leadership capacity.” Although your prior education has certainly played a significant role in defining your career trajectory and shaping you as a business person, at MBA level your work-related accomplishments need to stand out first.
Check out: Tips on Writing a Professional CV
Most professionals in middle management or senior positions have significant know-how in various industries and organizations. As aspiring executives, they need not list every single detail from their career, but rather highlight their progression from junior employee to visionary manager.
Dos and don’ts when developing an executive resume
The MBA admission decision-makers will explore your professional experience in-depth through your CV/resume and during the admissions interview. The advice of Ms. Mendoza is essential as she encourages professionals to include details about their current company and their role. Indicating the company size, number of employees, and general industry information such as products or services offered is always useful in providing an extra layer of context about your niche and past experience.
Another crucial tip comes from Adrienne Tom, President and Chief Executive Resume Strategist at Career Impressions, in an article for Forbes. She stresses the importance of providing supporting evidence about your claims:
In order to captivate a reader, executive resumes require more than just strong, tailored content. They also need proof. […] If you increased revenue, drove new initiatives or collaborated closely with others, you must provide clear examples of how the application of skills resulted in positive business outcomes.
Even if you strongly believe you are qualified and deserve admission to the MBA program you are applying for, this needs to show in your CV/resume as well. Otherwise, admissions officers may not be as convinced as you are. In her blog post, Charley Mendoza suggests using active voice and powerful action verbs throughout the executive resume. Here is an example she gives:
-Responsible for streamlining inventory to minimize product surplus
-Streamlined inventory to minimize product surplus
Notice the difference? In the first sentence, we should remove the boring “responsible for” at the beginning and replace it with the action word “streamlined”.
Using the active voice as well as action verbs will help bring your message forward more strongly.
Check out: 7 TED Talks for a Successful Career
Pragmatic vs. fancy – respect the requirements
As you may be aware, when applying for a job nowadays, many of the large corporations use a software application to preliminary scan the incoming CVs/resumes. Although this can be time-saving and useful for recruiters, it may also be a double-edged sword for job applicants.
On the one hand, submitting a resume with a bold and modern design is a must for grabbing the attention of future employers. On the other hand, however, the tracking systems used to scan recruitment documents may not be able to read graphics and images – rather, they are able to detect keywords relevant to the particular company role. Executives should find the right balance between text and visuals on their CV/resume so as to ensure that their application passes through the electronic system.
Applying this scenario to the business school world, you should know that some MBA programs require that the resume is presented in a specific format. So, the best approach would be to check well in advance what document formats are accepted. Following their instructions should be enough to guarantee that your application reaches the right people and that your qualifications shine through.