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How To Write Your Resume For Business School


There are a lot of elements related to your resume submission during the business school application season.
Most business schools have an online system where you upload your essays, questionnaires, and yes—your resume.

Before we get to the actual resume, let’s talk about what you should name your resume. Usually, you can upload your word (*.doc) document to the online system. Occasionally, you may need to convert your DOC file to a PDF and upload the PDF instead.

What should the filename of my resume be?

Good question. This is often overlooked, but it does make a difference!
Most candidates will give the following filenames to their resume:

  • “John Doe – 091009.doc”
  • “Resume – bschool.doc”
  • “resume for harvard Fall 2010.doc”

This is NOT what you should do. Sure, having the “091009″ system is good for your own personal tracking system to keep track of which dated version you saved on–091009 –September 10, 2009. However, business schools do NOT want to see this.

Let’s look at what is good from the above. The John Doe part is good. Why? Putting your name in the filename immediately brands you as a unique candidate. One thing you should know about the entire MBA application process is that branding is everything. If you do not brand yourself, you will be just like the thousands of other generic guys who give their resume the name: “resume091009.doc”

Brand yourself! Put your name there and attach the name of the company you worked at for 4 years. You can even put the name of the school you are applying to–it gives a slight impression that this particular resume was specially customized for the school–rather than just being your generic resume that you hand out everywhere.

For example, use the following formats:

  • “John Doe Resume – Goldman IB – Harvard R1 2010.doc”

or if the online system does not allow [spaces] in the title, then use underscores like this:

  • “John_Doe_Resume_Goldman_IB_Harvard_R1_2010.pdf”
  • Notice the name “John Doe” is in the beginning. You can also put the word resume in the beginning like this: “Resume – John Doe – Goldman IB – Harvard R1 2010.doc”
  • Notice “Goldman IB” utilizes the recognized brand name in the title.
  • Notice “Harvard R1 2010″ indicates this resume was customized for Harvard. And R1 signifies that the resume was submitted as part of Round 1 in the application process (as opposed to Round 2 or Round 3).
  • Without even opening your document, the admissions director will already know who you are and what your general trajectory is. They know your name. They know the name of the firm that you probably spent a good portion of your career at and they also know which application round you belong to.

Should I use an Objective in my resume?

Objectives are useful only when you have a clear career path or field of interest. Since your intention is pretty clear for business school (to get into the school you are applying to), the objective is not necessary. So save yourself some room and leave out the objective for business school resumes.

How should I write the body of the resume?

This is the most important part. We can only cover a little bit here.
To start off, use effective verbs phrases, not generic ones like:
“responsible for”
“worked with”
“Handled”

Rather, you should use action verb like:
“Managed, Oversaw”
“Analyzed”
“Contacted”

Be specific as possible and quantify where possible.

So instead of saying
“Responsible for public relations activities of largest client account.”
you should say
“Developed and implemented a 6-month nation-wide public relations campaign for ABC Company, the agency’s largest client account, representing 65% of annual billings in the consumer products division.”

Much better.

What verb tense should I use?

Verb tenses are very important. A rule of thumb: If you have already done it, the verb should end in “ed”. If you are currently working on something the verb should end in the present tense. Do not lead your sentences with verbs that end in “ing”.

The pronoun “I”
The pronoun “I” does not belong on your resume.

How big should my margins be?

Your margins should be no smaller than .5 inch and no larger than 1 inch on all sides.

Do I list dates on my resume?

Yes, remember to list the dates of your employment, involvement in activities, as well as honors or special recognition.

How long should my resume be?

Your resume should be no longer than 1 page. If your resume is more than 1 page, it is very likely you are listing a lot of irrelevant or redundant information. Remember, business school admissions officers have thousands of resumes to go through. They won’t be spending all that much time analyzing your resume when they have piles of essays and apps to go through. They just want the quick scoop. They also want to know that you understand how to succinctly communicate what you did on one piece of paper.

WHAT size font do I use?

Size 11 is ideal, but anything smaller than size 10 is too small.

See more on cover letter samples, resumes, and essay services.

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