“EssaySnark! I’ve done so much stuff!”
The worst thing in the world with an MBA app is a datadump instead of a resume.
When BSers hear that their resume can be only one page long, there is often a) panic, b) resolve to include everything anyway.
If you’re tweaking your font size down in an effort to squeeze it all in, then that’s instant sign of a problem.
The problem is not that the page limit is so small.
The problem is how you are approaching the assignment.
All tasks on a job are not created equal. All projects are not equivalent in their value in showing who you are.
(Almost) everything in the Professional section on the resume should be presenting accomplishments and achievements (and oh hey LOOK! There’s an app for that!).
Pro Tip: You do not need to include every single thing you’ve ever touched on the job on the resume.
You need to be showing those that matter.
Where can you show how you’re best in class?
Like, if you were the poodle parading around the show ring, where in your resume are the highlights that give your adcom reader a hint that you’re one to give a second look?
It’s not about being pretty. It’s about being the best of the type of person you are.
Where in your role have you done more than others in your role have done?
Where have you stepped up? Where did you bring new thinking to a hard problem?
Pure data does not necessarily capture this. In other words, saying you have closed 24 deals in your private equity role? Meh. Who cares? That just says you’ve worked there a certain period of time, and you’re reliable, and they give you a lot of the book of business.
Those takeaway messages are useful. Sure. But think about it: Are you saying you should be accepted to Harvard because you did one more deal than some other person?
LOOK AT YOUR BULLETS THROUGH THE EYES OF THE READER.
What is your intended takeaway message?
“I did X.”
OK great. Now what does that MEAN? What can a complete stranger be expected to interpret from the fact of your doing X?
The resume is one of your best opportunities to show that you know how to THINK STRATEGICALLY.
Your resume is a document of communication. The projects you select, and the way you speak about them, demonstrate your sophistication in the area of messaging — which is really about EQ. Which all the schools care about, whether they make it part of their branding or not.
Think of it this way: You know that certain schools are known for certain things. You know these things because of the image that the school projects to the world. The schools that are good at this have stronger brand identities.
The resume is the ultimate reflection of your brand.
“Well sh!t,” you may be thinking. “The whole reason I want to go to bschool is because I’m clueless about these things. I am totally hosed in this process. If EssaySnark says I need to know branding just to put my &%#! resume together, forget it.”
Rest assured, whippersnapper. You totally don’t need to know the theories on marketing. You’ll get that in bschool. This is all about taking a certain perspective to your resume-revision task.
Here’s the essence of it: Think with your audience in mind.
Let’s start with some basics.
First: We know that the adcoms want to see evidence of impact and leadership. (Or if you didn’t know that before, you know that now, because we’ve just told you.)
Next: You’ve done lots of stuff in your career to date, and worked on many projects. But, very important: A project is not an accomplishment.
So if projects and awards don’t do what we’re aiming for, what does?
This is where the strategy comes in.
Step back and think about the “why.”
Why did you earn the award? Is there something specific you contributed, that made everyone’s life easier?
What did you do on that project? Is there some element you can parse out, where you’re like, “Yeah, if I hadn’t done that when things were falling apart, the whole thing would’ve been derailed and we could’ve had it canceled.” Or, “the client would have bailed” or just “it would’ve taken us 2 more months and a whole lot more money.”
If it’s only a project management story where you did a lot of coordinating or talking-to-people or being a liaison… sorry. Those elements may have been important, but they only show you managing a project. They’re not yet elevating your accomplishments to the level of LEADER.
Not everyone has evidence of leadership in these awe-inspiring ways. But this is a do-something, be-proactive culture here in the States, and the adcoms tend to value the extrovert traits, the go-getters who aren’t satisfied with the status quo. The ones who take risks.
Is it still possible to get in if you’re an introvert?
YES! But then you’ll need to find ways to express the value you’ve brought in your introvert ways. Have you contributed smart ideas? Have you connected people behind the scenes?
The critical phrasing on your resume is to properly use the verb, and to capture a sense of impact – ideally through something quantifiable, and/or qualitatively – where YOU were responsible for the outcome.
This is different than the finance guy who lists deal size as if that alone conveys value. It does not.
This heavy-lifting / hard-thinking stuff is why we suggest that the resume not be overhauled until the first set of essays are done.
Well guess what? It’s pretty much September now.
If your first essays aren’t starting to be done, then we’re getting worried.
(Need help with that? There’s still time to go through the Complete Essay Package start to finish!! We’ve totally supported BSers with this amount of time in past seasons, and yes, they even got in!!)
And oh yeah did we mention? There’s this thingy we offer called the Reworking Your Resume App Accelerator. Might be something to look at?
Hey did you see the other posts for Resume Week?? Start here!