Earlier this season we wrote about the 10 most common mistakes to make in your MBA essays. Since we’ve also been posting about resumes recently, we figured it would be good to offer up a “most common mistakes” post on them.
Which in case you didn’t notice the title for today, is exactly what this is!
- (shameless plug but only because it’s the #1 most important point and we were obviously gonna mention this somewhere in this post anyway) Not overhauling your resume for the purpose of your MBA apps rather than its current purpose for a job search
- Mixing up the dates between the resume and the app. This is just a careless error but it crops up all the time when we do post-mortem app reviews.
- Wasting space. Frequently we see excess verbiage, like including company descriptions (they’re almost never necessary and sometimes we see descriptions that don’t even make any sense for an outsider) or lists of tech skills (we would assume that you know how to use MSOffice if you’re applying to bschool). Ditch that stuff. Every line on the resume should be about YOU and what you’ve done, in the context that the MBA adcoms care about.
- Myopia. What we mean by this is, often a resume is so chockfull of stuff about the person’s industry and their specific company environment that we simply cannot figure out what any of it means. For example, you don’t need the brand names of your companies’ products on the resume. Your adcom reader doesn’t know what “Acme 901d SuperWidget Premium” is or does — and they don’t care. Naming the product you worked on by name is just clutter. Your reader also doesn’t don’t know what the IEEE’s 802.11 standards are, and again, don’t care. Your job with the resume is to extrapolate meaning and significance in layperson terms and convey the gist of you as an impactful contributor on the job. It’s not to showcase the deep database of knowledge you’ve accrued on a specialized subsector in your industry. This comes down to again the advice to remember your audience, which applies equally as much to the essays, and it also relates to point #1 in this list: The resume you have for recruiting in your current industry is almost definitely not appropriate for this task of MBA admissions.
And hopefully you already know the deal about font sizes.
A less-common but still problematic mistake is too much white space. Most people overload their resume until the poor thing is panting and out of breath. The opposite problem happens when the resume is too sparse. If your resume looks naked, with only a bare-minimum amount of information under each section, then the reader will simply assume that there is not enough substance to your experiences as a whole. The way the resume actually looks, believe it or not, conveys an impression. The too-dense page tells us that you struggle to prioritize or cannot evaluate what’s truly important about what you’ve done (which implies a lack of critical thinking skills), and it’s also even sometimes a sign of self-centeredness (“I think that EVERYTHING I’ve done is super important and so I’m going to bombard you with All of it.”).
A kitchen-sink resume is not helping. Neither is one that is too spare. There’s a gazillion other issues to watch out for with the resume (many of which are discussed in our prior posts in this category) but perhaps the most important thing to capture when we’re talking about mistakes:
Don’t underestimate the importance of the resume.
Is it more important than the essays? Well, maybe not (though maybe it is??)….. but what we can tell you is it’s really important!! The adcoms are forming a critical first impression about you based on a glance at that significant page. Don’t overlook the contribution that the resume can make to your overall MBA package.
And one more plug of shamelessness: The Reworking the Resume App Accelerator is one of our most popular services — for a reason! Don’t overlook the resources available as you navigate the final weeks to your deadline.
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