Well that should be obvious. But apparently it’s not! And, we actually mean it in two ways: 1. There is only one YOU – so if you share who you are with the adcoms, they will see your individuality. This is the essence of the Strategy of Authenticity — which really shouldn’t be called a…
God bless the adcoms for trying to help you BSers.
Recently London Business School posted a sample CV (aka resume) to their blog and we do appreciate that the schools are trying to offer more guidance!
But guess what?
Here’s the sample resume from LBS (in part – full version available here) :
This is the LBS format — meaning, the format that students use when recruiting at this school. It’s not too dissimilar to the format that MBA students at other schools also use for recruiting. The schools have students standardize to make it easier for recruiters; it allows more of an apples-to-apples comparison. This is a common practice.
The LBS admissions team’s accompanying blog post had lots of great tips in it and sadly, not all of those are actually being reflected on this sample.
Mostly the question you have to ask yourself before adopting their suggested format though: Is it optimized for the MBA admissions process? We have to say no. 🙁
Well for starters, look at all that white space at the top. White space is good in terms of making the content on the page balanced and easy to deal with. A poor resume layout, though, will screw up this balance and it’ll cheat you of the optimal amount of room to include actual content. That stacked header is not great, and the Education section is radically sparse. (In a not-good way.)
We also disagree with the adcoms’ recommendation / requirement (from MIT Sloan) that Education goes at the top. If a school (aka MIT Sloan) mandates that you put your stuff in that order, then fine, you’ll obviously need to do so — but most of the MBA admissions teams care about your PROFESSIONAL READINESS more than anything. Yes they care about where you went to school and what your grades are. But highlighting your current professional background front and center, by putting that first on the page, is the right way to go.
After all, unless you’re applying to bschool straight from another academic program, then the rule of presenting yourself in reverse-chronological order is violated by having the Education section at the top. The reason that MBA students build their resumes for the recruiting process by putting the Education section on top is because the students are still in school. In the Real World, you want your Most Recent stuff At The Top (sorry for the weird capitals but we feel like those words deserve to be capitalized in this sentence!). So for MIT and LBS to be telling you to put your COLLEGE at the top is by definition non-standard and not what recruiters would want you to do. At least, not what your resume should look like today — again, unless you’re currently in school. And then yeah, school goes first.
But that’s a trivial thing. If the Education section is at the top, even if it’s not the most recent part of your life, so be it. As a resume reader, we can just skip down to the professional content.
Mostly we’re not crazy about these schools insisting that you (or implying you should) do the resume a particular way — when the way they’re promoting is not necessarily ideal.
Why, MIT?!? Why are you requiring applicants do this? You know they’re applying to other schools, too! The resume was the one thing that applicants did not have to do custom to each application! And now this!
Yes, The ‘Snark is frustrated on the behalf of all BSers. And we love MIT for so many other things, too!
After years of schools reducing requirements and removing barriers and trying to make it simpler for applicants to apply, it seems that maybe a few schools are starting to assert their individuality again and asking applicants to go ahead and do things just for them. This MIT resume is certainly an extreme case. The org chart that MIT is requiring is also unique but we’re not that bent out of shape on that one, mostly because it seems so darned practical from the adcom’s side. We can see the utility. This MIT-format resume? Not so much.
What we suggest if you’re applying to one of these schools?
Pay attention to their instructions.
That may seem so obvious but really, it’s so important.
If, like Sloan, they INSIST you submit using their specific layout, then you’d best submit a resume in that layout! You are risking way too much to disregard their requirement. (MIT used to suggest a template rather than insist on one.) We don’t currently know of any other school that is insisting on a resume layout so hopefully you’re not constructing multiple different versions of your resume for all these schools.
But if you are?
Shame on these adcoms!
It’s just counter to the whole applicant-friendly thing that we’ve often appreciated with the Sloan adcom peeps.
Here’s the instructions from MIT — and no, they’re not too onerous — but as you can see, they will require you to create a version just for them:
Please submit a one-page resume (Times New Roman 10 point font preferred) that includes your employment history and academic record in reverse chronological order. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged, including extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements. Please REDACT your name, address, and contact information.
For formatting purposes, please list the information in the following order:
- Education – please feel free to include relevant awards, scholarships, professional societies
- Work Experience – please list in reverse chronological order and include: company name, title, results-oriented bullets that demonstrate your skill set, and dates.
- Additional information – languages, extracurricular activities/community service, technical skills/certifications, special skills/interests (if appropriate)
Bonus content for Blahg Members: How to Redact Your Info for the MIT Sloan MBA Resume
Maybe you missed that part where they say to “REDACT your name, address, and contact information” or maybe you don’t even know what “redact” means! EssaySnark is here to help!
Hope that was helpful!
So, in conclusion:
What we will promise you: If you submit a resume like that LBS one to Harvard, you’re not going to have even a sliver of a chance. It’s just nowhere near competitive enough. And the layout! The layout is just so blah. Nobody is rejected for a crappy layout but you really want to be doing more to try and impress. Right?
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London Business School, and INSEAD.
Given that INSEAD just got named #1 bschool by FT, then you can expect their apps to rise, at least a bit. The good news with this school is that they always have another deadline coming up! They have multiple intakes, and multiple rounds, and that means that there’s always an opportunity to apply to INSEAD.
LBS has four rounds so there are two more remaining before you get into the “nope don’t bother” zone with their Round 4. Round 3 at LBS? Sure, that can work. It’s not ideal but it’s not an automatic non-starter either.
We don’t have school-specific pages here on the snarksite for these two though we do discuss them from time to time:
And, we have the Guide to Applying to European Bschools which also may be useful – and look what a bonus, that one guide covers both these schools.
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It’s May. Creeping up to the middle of the month. That means, bschools are gonna start releasing their new essay questions soon.
Harvard is usually the first one out of the gate with questions. Then comes Columbia. Most other schools wait till June, and then it all happens in a flurry. A few slowpokes
(Stern we’re looking at you) don’t release questions till August – but then again, NYU doesn’t have its first deadline until November, so that’s actually OK. Update 6/7/13: Stern released questions, AND moved up its Round 1.
We’ve got a directory to MBA essay questions by school – you may have noticed the new menu at the top of the screen. We’re keeping that up to date with application deadlines and miscellaneous commentary too. Once a school has released their questions, they will get a little ☆ character next to their name in the index.
Here’s EssaySnark’s predictions on where we’re going to see MBA essays go this year:
1. The trend for fewer questions is here to stay. Most schools that reduced the number of essays asked last year will stick with that strategy. This includes HBS with their skimpy two-essay application. Stanford, MIT, Columbia, Wharton, Booth – we think all these schools will have the same number of questions that they did last year. Most of them will tweak the questions, at least a little, but we’re betting that all will have the same number of questions total.
2. Columbia will switch up its questions – a bit. One possibility? They may revert to their classic version of essay 1: What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? We always loved that question. It’s clear and direct, and it asks exactly what the school needs to know (Columbia cares about the career goals fit a lot). For their second essay, they may get especially brave and go in the direction of a school like Duke (see below) where they try to a) show their own personality (“We’re a friendly and open school!!”) and b) let the applicant express more of hers. We think the Columbia questions will show a departure from what they’ve done before, not in essence, but in tone.
3. LBS will reduce its questions this year. We believe that LBS saw a drop in applications last season because of how many darned essays they wanted their applicants to write. We think they’ll still keep more essays than other schools, but we’re willing to bet that they go from six questions (or possibly EIGHT if you were a reapplicant who needed to also do the optional essay about something) to four total. They may still keep the word count comparable to what they allowed before (1750 words), perhaps dropping it down to like 1500 total.
4. Duke will keep its awesome “25 Things” essay/list thing. This is a no-brainer in terms of how predictions go. The Duke application was voted the most popular among last year’s Brave Supplicants here on the EssaySnark blahg, and for good reason. This essay rocked. It was fun for candidates, and that “fun” came through on the page. We learned more good stuff about the BSers who applied to Duke than perhaps any other school.
5. Wharton will revamp its questions completely. This is an easy prediction to make; they do this every year. They’ll have one very short career goals essay, and they’ll have an assortment of other questions, one of which will be focused on innovation. They probably won’t have one with a quote from Dean Robertson though, even though that’s been a trend for several years running now. We think they might also ditch the question around “Knowledge for Action” – though we’re divided on this (there’s argument that they’ll keep it since it’s part of their recent rebranding; but maybe they’ll ditch it because man some of those essays on this topic last year were lame).
6. MIT will keep its cover letter. This is also a completely safe prediction for us to make. They’ve had the cover letter as part of their app for like two decades or something (really!). We are doubtful that 2013 would be the year to change it. We’re betting the remaining essay questions are also quite comparable to what they’ve had before: they’ll ask something along the lines of “Tell us about a time when…” and you’ll need to come up with a difficult situation, or a time when you were innovative, or an example of working well on a team.
7. Stanford will also maintain its classic “What matters most?” question. And, everything we just said about MIT’s questions will apply for the GSB too; they tend to be the two schools with the most similar approach (leaving off the vast differences between the Sloan cover letter and the GSB essay 1).
Some of these predictions are very safe. Some schools are a little predictable – mostly because they are getting what they want out of the questions that they’re asking. Still, many of our predictions are just intuition and guesswork. We’ll be as interested as you to see how things play out.