The biggest difference between a job resume and a resume aimed at getting you into an MBA program is sheer quantity. "Just in terms of pre-application review, I look at hundreds per year and we only do intake in the fall,” says Katharine Travers, Admissions and Outreach Specialist of New York’s Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College. “I get several a day usually.” 

Fewer than half are accepted.

Key Takeaways

  • Keep it to one page.
  • Use bullet points to describe your professional accomplishments.
  • Pick a standard resume format from Microsoft Word or any other program you use.

Which resumes catch a business school’s attention? “It should be simple and to the point,” Travers says.

Here are some other ways to help your resume stand out from the crowd.

Formatting Your Application Resume

  • Use just two typefaces: A bold sans-serif face for headers, and a standard serif face for body type. In case you're wondering, a serif is a tiny extension at the end of a character in some fonts. Its purpose is to make small text easier to read. After reviewing a few hundred resumes, the dean of admission’s eyes need serifs. Sans-serif letters are cleaner, and when they’re larger, fewer, and bolder the words really pop. Times New Roman is the most common typeface used because it's easy to read, but you might use Cambria or Garamond to stand out.
  • Use the standard resume format. That usually means your name in large type, your mailing address on one side and your phone and email address on the other. Use a template like those available on Microsoft Word.
  • Skip pretentiousness. Unless your name is John D. Rockefeller VIII, there’s little need for a middle initial or a Roman numeral. 
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Best Resumes For MBA Applications

Presenting Yourself in One Page

  • Even though you're emailing it, keep it to one page. For some schools, it’s a requirement, but even if it's not, consider the poor dean of admissions. Also, remember to attach it as a pdf. file. That way all the fine formatting you selected will come through.
  • Use resume-speak throughout. Never begin with “I,” and always end with a period. Use plenty of action words.
  • Start off with your professional objective: that is, a line or two indicating what you’ll be giving to the world with your MBA, not what the world is giving you for having an MBA. 
  • List your Professional Experience. Forget "Employment." Employment means reporting that you punched tickets at the local amusement park. Professional Experience means reporting that you "supervised admissions at Happy Funland, the regional theme park showcasing thrill rides, exhibits, and entertainment for kids of all ages."
  • For each professional experience you list, quantify. How much was the company worth, how many people did you supervise, how much money did you handle, or make for the company? Use digits for the numbers. Compared with five thousand dollars per day, or five hundred thousand guests every year, or five-million-dollar annual sales, the figures $5,000, 500,000 and $5,000,000 pop. If you were promoted, say so, and list your accomplishments. 
  • Use a bullet point before each entry to make it pop, and shoot for at least three bullet points. Remember, emphasize personal growth. You were hired as a custodial engineer at Funland, the regional theme park with $5,000,000 annual sales. You were promoted to mechanical engineer of the water slides. That's two bullet points. Don't lie, but make your points strongly.

Brevity is the soul of an MBA resume.

  • After Professional Experience, list Education. Translation: Your college education. List each college or university and its address, followed by the degree or degrees you earned there, your GPA so long as it’s 3.5 or higher, and any other accomplishments.
  • It’s a given that you’re a high-school graduate. Listing that will only eat up valuable space that could be used for bullet points. Listing the salary you earned is also superfluous, as is the line “References available upon request.” That's a given, too. Instead, use the bottom of the page to list awards, honors, extracurricular activities, and volunteer service.