It’s Resume Week! Every day this week, we’ll be discussing MBA application strategies around the resume as a key component within your overall presentation.
Today is a Q&A from different BSers trying to figure out how to optimize the info that they should be sharing, and where. These all came in at various times from Brave Supplicants we’re working with in Snarkville (identifying info removed, of course!). If you have not signed up for such one-on-one support on your apps, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to ask us stuff!!
Q: I thought you indicated that the resume and recs should be used to show different aspects about yourself. For example, can I put deals on my resume and have my recommenders talk about other transactions I have worked on? Or should the resume be used as support for what is said in the recommendations?
A: Actually what we hope we said was that the ESSAYS and the recs should show different aspects of your profile. The resume should show EVERYTHING; it should back up and reinforce the entirety of the other assets. Everything mentioned in an essay or recommendations will also be found in the resume.
I have a question about my goals and the themes that will be covered in the essays. From the Essay Ideas App Accelerator lesson guide, I understood the themes that you want the BSer to cover. e.g. leadership, community engagement, international experience, quant skills etc.
My goals perhaps do not require an emphasis on quant skills and International experience. So can my essays be devoid of these themes? I want to focus on my goals and want every theme – leadership/success/impact/community to be connected with the goals.
Is this OK? I am asking this because i believe my resume (work exp in US and India) and gmat (q 51) capture these 2 themes.
Or you think, EVERY theme should be highlighted in your essays, even though some are covered (so i think!) in other parts of application?
A: (Sidestepping the comment on how EssaySnark wants BSers to cover certain themes) The first one. That is essentially how you present a multidimensional application, and you leverage the different parts of your profile to full effect. Few people have a profile that will demonstrate every single one of these aspects — and few people would need one! The resume should show where you’ve specialized in your career to date, through the functional areas and industry sectors that you’ve gained the deepest levels of experience on. AND it should go across the full spectrum of who you are, from your career progression and choice of professional pathway, to what you chose to major in during college, to what you do for fun. International experiences should definitely be highlighted there. Quant skills should be in evidence from the GMAT score, and if the quant on the GMAT is low, then that’s a weakness that needs to be shored up through the essays and hopefully also through evidence on the resume of experience with quant-heavy work. On at least one bullet.
This BSer was perhaps confused in what they asked about using the essays to highlight all the themes, as that would be impossible. The essays are your chance to go in depth on CERTAIN dimensions or themes. There’s no way that the essays would let you cover all of them, particularly not for a one-essay app school like Darden or Yale!
However, the type of analysis that this BSer is asking about is definitely useful. This is what it means to develop a multidimensional strategy, and to leverage all of the application. This type of holistic thinking is important! However, we’re also seeing signs of overthinking happening with this question. The most important objective with an essay is to ANSWER THE QUESTION. Don’t worry about ‘themes’ and all of that (it’s too much like the ‘branding’ which many BSers turn themselves into pretzels trying to figure out).
If you have extensive international experience, such that it’s naturally a part of who you are, to the extent it could be labeled a ‘theme’ of your app, then it’s gonna come through on its own. If you have traveled abroad twice in your life, then that is not a ‘theme’ – and yes, it’s still perhaps useful for the adcom to know about those two trips, but they should not be overstrategized. Include them on the resume? Definitely, if they were work-related trips where you did something with an international team. Talk about them in an essay? Probably not, unless the project itself was so important that it merits presentation as a full story for that specific essay question.
Q: One question: What are the best resources to help improve my resume, especially the bullet points? I’ve seen a lot of templates and guides, but I’m not sure which are reliable and actually useful.
A: You think we’re gonna say the Reworking the Resume App Accelerator, dontchya? Actually, no.
The Accomplishments & Achievements App Accelerator is far and away the best resource to learn how to improve the bullets on the resume.
Because it helps you identify your, errm, achievements. Those are what your resume needs to be presenting to the world. Definitely those need to be featured in the essays, too, especially for the MIT Sloan cover letter and for a question like Kellogg on leadership. Or for basically any career goals essay you will encounter. However, the biggest opportunity for most people in reworking the resume is not just to make it prettier. Instead, it’s to overhaul how they are presenting themselves to the world. This is what an “MBA resume” means in the truest sense.
Do you have a resume strategy question? Please post in the comments – we’d be interested in what you are grappling with and how we can shed light into these critical questions on what-goes-where!