Reblahgging for you current crop of BSers…. because important!
The adcoms say they do a “holistic” review, and we sometimes advise that you, too, need a “holistic” strategy — as we did here, in response to the BSer complaint, “Why do I have to say that in the essay when I’m already telling them that in the app?” In that post, we talked about making the most of each application component.
One often-overlooked yet CRITICAL part of your application project task list is the resume.
Lots of people just assume that whatever resume they have on hand, that they used for landing their current job, is going to be sufficient, with some minor tweaks and updates to bring the dates current, for the MBA application too.
That’s just not the case.
There is no such thing as an “MBA resume” per se, but we can assure you that the resume you already have available is simply not optimized to this process.
Because you’re using it to serve a different need and for a very different audience than you used any resume in the past.
Also, you’re more than likely working with a resume format that you constructed way back in college, when you were looking for a first job out of school. That’s not the same type of resume that works today, and there’s even some legacy elements that may still be hanging on to your resume that are now outdated and no longer advised as best practices.
For example, if you have a Summary or an Objective statement at the top of the page, then that’s simply not useful or relevant.
Most important though, the standard resume that’s ideal for your industry is not necessarily going to serve you the same way for the purpose of getting into bschool.
Well, say you’re a software engineer. You’ve probably got an alphabet soup of languages and protocols and technologies rattling around all over your resume.
Does the bschool adcom want to know about that? Does any of that even matter for the purpose of admission to bschool?
No, and no.
What’s worse, having all those acronyms and jargon can work against you. All that does is emphasize how you’re a software developer — they do not show how you’re prepared and ready for the MBA.
Your resume is a very important asset in your application. Is it serving that purpose?
If you’re the most amazing and highly accomplished engineer, then great! But being an accomplished engineer who solves technical problems is not, on its own, going to tip the scales for an application to bschool — at least, it’s not going to if it’s presented in the same way as you’d present evidence of that to a peer or a colleague or hiring manager in your space.
You need to translate your key wins in your field into language that the adcom reader can understand, and you need to make it bschool-accessible.
This is even more important if you’re going for a big jump outside of your current industry. If you’re making both a functional change (which any engineer interested in the MBA automatically is saying he’s doing) and you’re switching to another sector (which many also want to do) then you need to reposition all of your background in a way that shows you have something relevant to pull on, in order to make such an ambitious change happen.
No, you don’t necessarily need prior experience in the sector you want to switch to. But somewhere in the app, the adcom reader is going to need to be assured that you have what it takes to pull this off. If all of your background and experience is couched in language of technical skill and project-based work, then that alone does not give the adcom confidence that you’ll be able to do something different.
The other huge problem?
Most people simply aren’t saying anything meaningful on the resume. Most bullets are generic one-liners that read like a job description. They don’t capture the value-add or contribution made. They’re very very flat, and they communicate little. They don’t help you set yourself apart from your peers or show how you’re advanced compared to the competition in your sector.
That’s why you need to go back over all of it now, during the process of preparing your apps.
If the bulk of your resume bullets were written three years ago, or even nine months ago, then we can assure you, you’ve changed.
If you’ve been working to build your skills and get better in your field, then coming back to your resume today, after it’s been sitting dormant on your hard drive for awhile, should instantly trigger light bulbs to go off for you. You should see plenty of opportunity to jigger the phrasing and make the bullets more clear. You’ve evolved. You’re a new person today (we hope!). You now have a new perspective on what you’ve done in the past, that you can apply to the content you wrote long ago, and make it fresh, and new, based only on the additional insights you have on your work and what you have done.
Even if you feel that you don’t have that new perspective today, sitting here reading this, we can assure you, after going through the process of writing your essays for your first MBA app, YOU WILL.
It’s a learning curve. There’s always a better way to say things. You’ll build your skills of self-expression, and you’ll be able to leverage those into all aspects of the app. The essays AND the resume.
This task of figuring out the best way to capture your background and work experiences on the resume — using details and specifics — will come much more easily to you if you tackle it after your first set of essays is done. That’s the opportune time. We don’t suggest doing it now, when you’re new to the process of figuring yourself out.
However, we definitely recommend doing it at some point. Our Reworking the Resume App Accelerator is chock-full of advice and best practices on how to take your resume in whatever form it’s in now, and optimizing it for this process of applying for bschool. After you study the tutorial, you’ll go over your resume on a macro and micro basis, deleting stuff, rewriting stuff, more than likely rearranging stuff wholesale on the page. You’ll learn what needs to be emphasized and what can be cut. You’ll spend a lot of time reworking it — and then when you have your bright shiny new resume, you’ll submit it for feedback and we’ll give you a detailed critique of what you’ve developed, comparing it against the best practices and letting you know in particular if the bullets you’ve crafted are clear.
The resume is often the first thing that an adcom reader picks up when they start to review your application. It’s super important to the process. If you want to help your chances the most, you’ll dedicate time to revising it, and making it solid and sound. An awesome resume that clearly depicts your past experiences in an insightful and targeted way can take you so far in helping the adcom believe in your abilities to succeed in the future.
And all adcoms want people like that in their class.
Trying to streamline your resume? Here’s a list of things you can cut.