Do you want to take your career to the next level by applying to an MBA program?
Well, and so do thousands of other people. But the admission committee is tough, and they turn away even candidates with years of experience. Why?
For one, they need to pick the best candidates to keep their school at the top. Second, they want the best career choice for you. Finally, there’s always someone with the best MBA resume out there.
So how do you get into an MBA program that you want?
You'll create an outstanding MBA and use it as a marketing tool by applying to their program.
That's what we'll help you achieve in this resume.
Ready to make your biggest career move?
This MBA resume guide will teach you
- What are the most important sections to have in an MBA resume
- MBA resume examples and structure to grab the admission officer’s attention
- How to feature your educational background in an appealing manner
- Why experience and skills could be the missing piece in most MBA resumes today
- What additional sections could bring more value to your application
Looking for related resumes?
- Business Development Resume
- Program Manager Resume
- Executive Assistant Resume
- Assistant Manager Resume
- Department Head Resume
How to write a professional MBA resume
Writing a resume for MBA programs is slightly different from the way you usually make a resume.
The most obvious difference lies in the goal behind the application.
With an MBA resume, your sole purpose is to get accepted into a school that's offering the program of your dreams.
That means admission committees and recruiters look for different things in an applicant.
You should follow a different approach when making this type of resume:
- Keep it short. Most business schools have a strict 1-page policy for your resume. That's simply because the majority of candidates don't have a lot of experience to offer.
- Create continuity. MBA admissions committees expect continuity in your employment history. You need to be transparent about how you spent your recent years by including precise dates. Also you shouldn't leave any gaps when listing your education, work experience, and volunteering activities. If you have to leave a gap, be sure to explain it somewhere along the application to give a proper explanation. For example, you could add a few sentences to your essay explaining where you've been during that period.
- Be strategic about your experience section. On average, MBA students have four years of experience before they're accepted to the school. So as an MBA program candidate, you're expected to have some experience, but not too much experience.
Here's where things get interesting…
Having ten years of experience is too much for an MBA program applicant. And It's usually really hard to get into business schools with this level of experience because you're too late.
Admission representatives will wonder: where have you been in the past ten years?
The good news is:
Unlike job applications, MBA resumes don't have to be tailored specifically to each school you're applying to. And you don't have to make lots of personalization on your resume to get accepted.
Your CV tells the story of who you are in a simple, easy-to-understand language. It highlights your highest qualities and achievements.
That's how the admission officer knows you deserve to get into the program.
The ideal MBA resume format and sections
- Volunteering and activities
What recruiters look for in an MBA resume
- Do you have strong leadership and management skills to drive others forward?
- What is your educational background?
- How many years of work experience do you have? And is it in a relevant field?
- Have you spent any time before volunteering or pursuing extracurricular activities?
- What are your greatest career achievements and contributions?
MBA resume header: setting the right tone from the start
The header section comes at the top of your resume to introduce who you are. It plays a major role in leaving a positive first impression on the admission committee.
Whether you’re making a Harvard MBA resume or a resume for any other school, the header remains the same.
But believe it or not:
Making a few minor mistakes here can cost you the chance to get into a top MBA program.
Your resume header should include the following information:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
Although it may seem straightforward, we’ve seen many candidates make mistakes here.
Your full name should come on top of the rest of the information to establish a clear hierarchy.
As for the content information:
Include your country ISD code with a + sign at the beginning if you’re applying to an international school.
Your email address should show that you’re a professional applicant.
Do not use an unofficial email address or a made-up ID that looks like a random online username. You want this to be a means of contact and not a way to shoot yourself in the foot.
If email@example.com is taken, try out these professional email formats:
It’s better to use popular email providers such as Gmail and Outlook.
Your location should include your state and city if you’re applying to a national school in your country.
E.g., city, state.
If you’re an international candidate, you should only include your “city, country.”
Aside from that:
Avoid any additional personal information about you unless it’s required in the application.
Now, let’s look at an MBA resume sample to give you a better idea.
2 MBA resume header examples
Mba resume summary or objective: do you need it?
Here’s a typical scenario:
George is admission officer at the adcom reviewing your application at Stanford.
George reads thousands of Stanford MBA resumes in a short period of a few months, and have been doing this for years. He already knows a lot about what a winning potential candidate looks like.
He doesn't want to read the same resume objective dozens of times every day. Because to him, all applicants have the same: they want to get into the school, you included.
That's why you need a resume summary instead of an objective for your MBA application.
Here's the deal:
Your summary should only be 3-4 lines long so that it's easily skimmable. And it must highlight your most notable experiences, skills, and career achievements.
2 MBA resume summary examples
Let's make some simple changes to boost your chances of getting accepted.
Always use action verbs in the past tense when writing your summary. This shows that your resume is telling a true story in a way that highlights your strengths and abilities.
Focus on your impact and leadership skills instead of roles and duties. And stay away from listing any technical skills.
Admissions representatives aren't' looking for someone who can just scream orders.
They want a real leader who motivates others and helps them bring the best results through guidance and positive reinforcement.
So, try to show what you've done in your past jobs while showing your positive outcomes instead of actions.
Be precise about your achievements and results.
There's a big difference between a candidate who manages day-to-day operations and another one who guides employees towards increasing profits by 10% year-over-year.
That could be the same set of duties. But, the way you frame it has an astonishing effect on the reader's mind.
MBA resume experience section: How to outrank other candidates
If you have more than two years of work history, it's better to put experience above education.
The admission committee deals with thousands of resumes each year. And that makes time an extremely limited asset for them.
Once they start reading your CV, you don't want them to stop. And the only way you can do that is by giving them what they're looking for as early as possible.
If you've worked many different jobs since graduation, you need to list some of those experiences.
Choose the most significant job based on their importance. And do not confuse their value with how much you've invested in them.
You could work for a business for three years and achieve nothing. Just like you could be an intern at a thriving company for three months and make a huge difference.
List your most valuable jobs in chronological order.
Let's not forget:
Admission officers specialize in picking the best candidates for MBA programs. They don't know everything about every job in the world.
Help them pick you!
Remove any technical terms or industry jargon from your responsibilities and achievements. Take away any acronyms or abbreviations you're using in your resume.
You want this section to showcase why you're the perfect student. And the only way to do that is to speak in a language the admission committee understands.
Here’s another MBA resume sample for you.
2 MBA Resume Experience Examples
A great way to convey your achievements in bullet points is to follow the S.T.A.R method, which commission officers are familiar with.
For each sentence you write, follow this formula:
[Situation] + [Task] + [Action] + [Result] (Start each bullet point with an action verb)
Here's how it goes:
The first bullet point under each work experience must be the most important.
Simply because adcoms usually skim through information looking for something worth knowing. They won't read every single word in a resume unless there's something that grabs their interest.
That's why you must highlight your leadership and interpersonal skills in the first bullet point for each job you had in the past.
You need to quantify your achievements to make your claims more powerful.
Most of the time, it's hard to tell how qualified an applicant is based on words. Anyone can claim to be great at management, marketing, finance, or business development.
Only the ones that can prove it will reap the benefits.
Therefore, you must strengthen your claims by including solid numbers and precise data.
Let's make those changes now!
Proof-read everything you wrote and look for words or sentences that need refining.
Make sure to capitalize the first word in each sentence as well as company or product names. And do not put a period at the end.
MBA resume education section: where and how
Any MBA program you apply to is going to require a certain degree before you can get accepted. You can usually find that information in the application form.
Having an education section in a masters of business administration resume is a no brainer. And it shouldn’t be much different from listing education on a typical job resume.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is relevance to the MBA program you’re applying to. You must use this section to highlight that in the best way possible.
The education section on a resume consists of:
- Degree or field of study
- Name of your university/college
- Location of university/college
- Graduation date
- GPA (if 3.5 or higher)
Some candidates don’t have a lot of experience to feature on their resume.
If that’s the case for you, you don’t want to add filler sections to get your resume to be one page long.
So, what would be a better solution?
You can feature any awards or formal recognitions you earned at your school.
Try to keep that to only the achievements worth mentioning. And do not include your high school education or any activities you did before college.
MBA resume skills section: what skills to put on your BA resume?
It's true -- skills can be a huge plus to your profile when competing with lots of students. They help you showcase your best qualities and talents easily.
Adcoms don't want to see a list of skills because most of those words don't mean anything.
Anyone can add skills like “communication” or “strategic thinking” to their resume and claim to be an expert.
That's what everyone else is doing - so, this is your chance to zag when everyone else zigs.
How do you put skills on an MBA resume?
The best way to go about this is not to have a skills section in your resume at all. Instead, you'll highlight your skills in your summary and experience sections, which we already covered earlier in this guide.
That seems a bit counterproductive, doesn't it?
Well, think of it this way:
By merging skills with results, you'll save space for more important information to stand out. And you'll strengthen your claims by providing more context around your abilities.
But not only that!
You'll also do a better job at quantifying your expertise and help admission officers see your value.
You must focus on soft skills that are relevant to what the school is looking for.
While job resumes focus on proving your fitness to handle specific job functions, MBA resumes are more about business leadership and management.
The schools you're applying to desire strong academic abilities and power skills. They want to see leadership potential, teamwork, management, and decision making.
That's what you'll showcase in your CV.
Custom MBA resume sections: How to showcase your volunteering/extracurricular activities
The rule here is straightforward:
Only list your most valuable entries, which are usually the ones that took the longest.
If you distributed old clothes and blankets to homeless shelters in your town for a few days, there's no need to mention it here.
Such entries only make your profile weak and unnecessarily long.
Be sure only to feature recent experiences and not go all the way back to high school. Because by this point, you should already be struggling to fit everything into a single page.
You don't want to sacrifice essential details by listing irrelevant history.
Find a way to showcase how such experiences helped you improve your skills and abilities. And do not hesitate to feature your duties in a genuine, positive language.
Bonus: How to list MBA on your resume
The way how you feature an MBA on your resume depends on the job you’re applying for. Whereas for some positions having a business degree adds a nice touch to your resume, in other cases MBA can be a requirement.
- Education section by default. For most cases an MBA degree naturally extends the education section.
- Use bold fonts if your MBA directly benefits the job. For example, management MBA for a senior management position.
- Put MBA on top of your education section or achievements if the MBA requirement is mentioned in the job description.
For more details on how to put MBA on your resume read our separate guide “How to list MBA on your resume”.
Do you need additional sections in an MBA resume?"?
You can always add more sections to your masters of business administration resume to make it more appealing.
But be careful:
That may backfire on you.
You don't want to put yourself in a situation where more information brings your value down.
The admission committee can smell it when an applicant is tossing random details just to make their resume fit the page.
So, let's be smart about this.
Before adding anything to your resume, ask yourself:
- Will this help me sell myself better?
- Will this help me stand out from the pack?
Here are examples of additional sections you can have in an MBA resume:
- Passions and interests
Tips on specific MBA resume formats
Harvard [or other top-level programs] MBA Resume Application Tips
Getting into Harvard MBA programs is not an easy fit, but a properly executed application resume goes a long way.
Here are a few tips to increase your chances of successful application:
- Emphasize your GMAT or GRE score. Harvard boasts a median 730 score for GMAT. Make sure to emphasize it in your education section with bold font and proper resume layout.
- Research the program you apply for. Tailor your experience, projects and achievements based on the program you apply for (e.g. doctoral, executive) to increase chances of successful application.
- Target your resume. After completing a thorough research, don’t be shy to tailor certain parts of your resume to the program you’re applying for. Our targeted resume guide will help you understand the process behind proper resume targeting to increase your chances.
One-page MBA Resume Application Tips
People from the admissions committee don’t have time to read several pages of text. If your business school resume is longer than two pages, they’ll likely scan headers and achievements without getting too much into details.
Alternatively, when your MBA application resume fits one page, recruiters feel like they might miss something and analyse your resume more thoroughly.
Here are tips for one-page MBA resume:
- Try different resume layouts. Some sections of your resume are inevitably longer than others. With a proper resume layout you can group together smaller sections and win space for longer “Experience” and “Projects” sections.
- Keep it simple. Make sure to only use sections and words that absolutely benefit your application. Never repeat the same idea twice and cut out filler words relentlessly.
- Hire a proofreader. Nothing reduces application chances as drastically as flawed grammar. Hire a proofreader or use our resume checker tool to eliminate grammar issues, confusing terms, typos, and repetitions.
- Follow the MBA resume template in this guide to save time and make your application appealing to admission officers
- Fit all your information into a single page and pay attention to how you organize your different sections based on their importance
- Feature your education, experience, and skills and keep your language simple by avoiding industry jargon and technical terms
- Focus on your impact and greatest accomplishment instead of your duties to give the admission committee more reasons for accepting you
- Only add additional sections if they make your resume stronger and help you differentiate yourself from other applicants