Craft the Perfect Application Resume

The resume is an integral part of your application.  It is probably one of the first things that admissions officers will use to winnow you out (or, more optimistically, keep you in).  Your resume needs to pack a lot of information into a little space (1 page front and back), and it needs to look clean while it does it.

The Template

I’ve tried quite a few resume templates over the years, and the one that I’ve found to be the best at showing what I’ve done simply and cleanly is the Curriculum Vitae template from Microsoft Word.  Check out the template below.

Curriculum vitae template

Now, the problem with the template is the headings it uses.  They are better fit for a PhD program.  We need to tailor these headings to make them more appropriate for an MBA candidate.  So, what headings shall we use?


 

EDUCATION

You’ll obviously need an education section.  It should look something like this (including formatting):

 

NAME OF UNIVERSITY

Name of Degree                                                      Year

Concentrations

Distinctions

Honor Societies

GPA

 

A few quick notes:

  • If you haven’t graduated yet, put “(Expected)” after the year.
  • If you are unsure if you should list an Honor Society or not, read this post.  If it’s something like Phi Beta Kappa or Beta Gamma Sigma, definitely put it.  Otherwise, think it over.
  • Always put what your GPA is out of (e.g. 3.75/4.0, 4.5/5.0, etc.).  Also, if it is above a 3.75 out of 4.0, bold it.  You can also add Latin honors after you graduate, though this is preference.

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

This should highlight your full time work experience or, if you’re an early career candidate, your internship experience.  Your experiences should be listed in order of recency (most recent at the top).  The format is something like this:

 

Company Name, Company Location

Position Title                                                               Month Year – Month Year 

  • Bullet point starting with action verb detailing role, responsibility, or project
  • Bullet point starting with action verb detailing role, responsibility, or project
  • Bullet point starting with action verb detailing role, responsibility, or project

 

A few quick notes:

  • Action verbs are a must.  Strong action verbs can make a good project performance sound great.  I’ve attached a list of action verbs that you can draw from in crafting your resume.
  • Aim for 3 to 4 bullet points per company/position
  • You do NOT need commas between the month and year.  If you write “May, 2015 – August, 2015” it is an error.

 

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

Here is where you will list all of your international experience, including your volunteering abroad and study abroad experiences.  If you do not have any such experience, you’ll want to read this post and start working towards getting some.

 

City, Country

Program Title and Role (if applicable)                           Year 

One sentence detailing what you did there.

 

A quick note:

  • If you studied abroad during a semester that only had one course (e.g. a short summer session or a winter session), list the letter grade you received after the year.  For example,
    • “Asian Business and the Global Economy”                      2014   A

INDEPENDENT STUDY

Again, if you have not yet completed an independent study, check out this post for more info.

 

University Name, City, State

“Course Name”                                    Grade Received

One sentence describing the course/project.

 


GRADUATE COURSEWORK

See this post if you have not yet completed any graduate coursework but would like more info on how to do so.

 

University Name, City, State

“Course Name”                                    Grade Received

 


 

NOTABLE RESEARCH, PAPERS, & CONFERENCES

For information on conducting research, click here.  Good research will lead to papers, and you should make every attempt to present your research at every conference you can (it demonstrates an ability to speak publicly and a confidence in your work while enhancing the academic clout of your resume).  Thus, the three fall under one heading (it also saves precious vertical space).

 

Title of Paper, Project, Research

Awards won by paper

Journal published in/ Conference presented at                 Year(s) worked on

 


 

AWARDS

I tend to do my awards in one-line format so I can fit more of them while utilizing as much space as I can.

 

Year  Award Name

 


 

Some final tips:

  • Try to keep the break between pages natural.  That is, don’t have half of your bullet points for one professional position on page one and the other half on page two.  It looks too sloppy.
  • Something that I realized while filling out my applications is that a lot of times there will be places in the application for some of this information (but not all), and I always adjusted my resume accordingly.  For example, if one school has a place for you to list your awards, you can nix the AWARDS section on your resume and put something else in its place (or just make more space).  Many times the application will allow you to put a few awards (like your top 3), but will cap you at that amount.  If you want other awards you’ve won to be considered, you’ll want to include them in your resume (just don’t repeat the ones you’ve already listed in your application…it’ll just waste space).  Volunteering almost always has a spot in the application (hence, why it’s not a heading in the resume template), but international experience might not be.  Just be sure to keep tabs on what you’ve mentioned and what you’re missing in each application.  You want to be sure that each school is getting the fullest picture of you.
  • One last thing that I’ve done in order to save space or give my resume a little something new is take 2 headings and make them into a two columns (see below).  This works especially well if they are short sections that complement each other (e.g. independent study and graduate coursework).

This…

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.36.20 PM

Turns into this.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.34.17 PM

It’s all personal preference but I just view this as cleaner and it saves a ton of precious space.

Finally, I’ve included a modified MBA version of the CV template using the headings and tips mentioned above.  You can download it below.

MBA Curriculum vitae template

 

 

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