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…
Several months back we called out some top bschools with their not-so-great resume templates. But not all of them are bad. There’s one school especially that has a good resume template: Yale SOM Now, it may not look like much to you in that preview. It is pretty basic. But basic is also totally appropriate…
Similar to our warning that a project is not an accomplishment, today we’ll talk about what may be less obvious but is nearly as important. Capturing promotions on the resume is super important — it’s actually one of the main opportunities for optimization we see over and over when people go through our Reworking Your…
We have a whole Don’t Do This tag here on the blahg which seems to get a lot of use and might be worth exploring. Today’s topic is something that hasn’t been mentioned recently even if we’ve said it plenty times in the past, so we’ll hammer it home again: MBA resumes must be one page.
Oh you don’t believe us? OK how about we make it a proclamation:
Thou resume, when thoust doth supplicateth to thy gods of bschool, shall be only, at mostest, ONE single page in length.
That is like uno, solo, singular, mono. Un. Eins. один 壹 ichi. Minimus. Finito. No more than one.
Even if your resume is formatted nicely, even if you’ve got all this wonderful (blech) stuff about your fine self to portray to the adcom, even if you’re oozing fabulousness from every pore, sorry hate to say it but there is NO REASON why it should be two pages.
Ahem, sorry for that interruption.
Truly, the only people for whom it *might* be appropriate to submit a resume more than one page long are those who’ve been working 10+ years, and/or PhD who’ve published a lot — and even for them, there are reasons to trim back to one page!
The issue here is PERCEPTION… and it’s also POLITENESS. Reading essays is HARD.You are taking up MORE OF YOUR ADCOM READER’S TIME by submitting a long resume. (It’s the same reason why you never want to submit an optional essay unless you HAVE to.)
You should be looking to do the opposite. Minimize the amount of effort they need to expend to go through your application. Present yourself PROFESSIONALLY. This means being respectful of their time.
Sending a two-page resume — yes, even for a school that “allows one” — is NOT a good idea for ANYONE. It sorta makes it look like you’re too fond of yourself — that you can’t bear to part with all that fabulousness on the page.
(Many readers will just stop after the first page anyway!! They might not even bother with all your on-and-on-ing-ness on page two!)
EssaySnark feels so strongly about this that we’ve priced our resume reviews accordingly: You can get a very thorough assessment of your one-page resume for the amazing price of just $ 299.00. If it’s longer than that, we really don’t want to review it at all. 🙁 You can get a two-page review for an additional $100 (please contact Team EssaySnark after purchasing the base service for instructions to pay for the add-on).
Or just face the music. Buck it up, bucko. Deal with reality and decide to do that hard work of getting it onto a single page, which is the standard that all full-time programs request. This is about marketing yourself to a buyer. How you present MATTERS.
Addendum: So impressed with the BSer who prompted this rant – who’s now the proud owner of a sparklin’ new one-page resume!!
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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