How to Craft the Ultimate MBA Resume—With Examples

Applying to top MBA programs? Beat the competition with our guide to the ultimate MBA resume, including an easy-to-use template and examples.

Posted June 11, 2024

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The MBA application is time-intensive and complicated. Aspiring admits need to submit a strong, comprehensive, and cohesive set of materials to stand out. This includes an undergraduate transcript, standardized test score, essays, short answer questions, letters of recommendation, and resume, among other things.

Read: The Ultimate MBA Application Guide (2024)

The resume is an important component of the application because it tells the story of your work experience. It outlines where you’ve been and hints at where you’re going. While each part of the application plays a unique role in your candidacy, all are important. In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to prepare a stellar MBA application resume – find out what it is and what it isn’t, how it should be formatted, what to include (and not include), tips and tricks, common mistakes, and more.

What Is an MBA Resume?

The resume is one of the most important parts of your MBA application and can make or break your chances of getting into your dream MBA program. But why is it so important?

1. It's the Backbone of Your Application

Admissions officers read the resume for a full view of your career, professional achievements, skills, and hobbies. For them, it’s a window into who you are, what you might be like as a student if they admitted you, and what you’ll be like as a leader in the future. So it’s imperative that you nail it!

2. It's Critical to Your Interview

Your resume will also come into play when you're interviewing, as a source of questions and discussion topics, especially in a blind interview, in which an interviewer will have only read your resume. Nailing the resume will set you up for success when you reach the interview, that final step in your application process. Each line should be intentional – you have limited space and anything on there is fair game for interview questions.

Read: How to Ace Your MBA Interview: With Prep Questions & Answers

3. It's Your Chance to Show Off Your Professional Journey

Finally, the resume is your chance to highlight your career progression, the impact you’ve made in your roles, and the skills you’ve developed over time. By describing your accomplishments concretely and concisely, you’ll also be able to send a signal to the admissions committee that you’re mature, articulate, and knowledgeable about the impact you can make on an organization. Top MBA programs are looking for individuals who are not only accomplished but can speak about and record those accomplishments in a coherent way. Show them you can do that with your resume!

What Isn't an MBA Resume?

Now, before we dive into our tips and tricks, it's important to note that your business school resume is categorically different from other resumes you might have previously created, whether for internships, job applications, or other graduate school programs. An MBA resume is not a job resume and should be treated differently.

Many prospective MBAs focus on other parts of the business school application, like the GMAT/GRE, or their essays, and think they can copy and paste the resume they have on file, or the one they recently sent to a recruiter. This, however, won't work.

A resume for MBA admission is a different animal. Its job is not to highlight industry knowledge, demonstrate skill proficiency, or even showcase professional experience. Instead, the MBA resume must be singly focused on illuminating your business credentials, teamwork skills, and potential as a future leader. Every bullet on your resume must tell the admissions committee: "This is a stellar MBA applicant who will shine in the future, and ultimately make your program look fantastic as a distinguished alum."

One last word here. When you write a job application, generally speaking, you're competing with people whose experience and professional background match your own so you're trying to stand out in a crowd of like applicants. This is why a professional resume can be easier to craft.

When you apply to business school, every single candidate is different. While you're competing against other applicants, you're not trying to outdo them per se; rather, you're trying to create a holistic snapshot of your career to date, one that fits on a single page, touches on all aspects of your personal and professional life, and demonstrates that you're a star candidate.

With that all covered, let's dive into the resume itself.

Key Takeaways

  • The MBA resume is the foundation of your application. It provides a full view of your career, achievements, and skills, helping admissions officers evaluate your potential.
  • The resume plays a critical role in MBA interviews, guiding questions and discussions, especially in blind interviews.
  • The resume should tell the story of your career thus far – it highlights your progression, impact made, and skills developed, demonstrating maturity and articulation.
  • An MBA resume is distinct from job resumes, focusing on business credentials, teamwork skills, and leadership potential.
  • Your resume should present a comprehensive, one-page overview of your personal and professional life.

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What Should an MBA Resume Look Like?

First and foremost, let's talk about what a strong MBA resume should look like. It sounds small, but you don't want to put a massive amount of effort into your application, only to have your resume be formatted oddly, with odd font size and improperly laid out sections.

Here are 4 tips for having the best MBA resume format:

1. Length

Get your MBA resume onto a single page — pure and simple. If you submit a three-page resume, or worse, a short novel, your application will go to the bottom of the admissions pile.

The only exception is if you are applying to executive MBA programs. This is the only instance where you might have enough work experience to warrant more than one page. We recommend working with a coach in this case.

2. Font and Spacing

Don't get fancy — go with the classics: Calibri, Arial, or Garamond. Personally, we recommend Times New Roman. 11 to 12-point font is the go-to, with 14 for the headings. Keep the margins at one inch.

These are small things but remember: admissions committees will read thousands of applications, and you don't want them tripping up on your resume because of small formatting issues.

3. Color

Black and white. Colors will distract from the entire point of the resume: communicating who you are as a professional and MBA candidate. Unless you’re Elle Woods, keep it black and white.

4. File Type

Most schools' application portals will specify the file format for your resume, but generally speaking, you'll be submitting a PDF. It's clean, clear, and looks professional.

Fantastic — now you have an idea of what your resume should look like! If you've done everything right, it should look similar to this:

To help you out, we've also included a redacted resume with the proper formatting, which you can use as an MBA resume template.

MBA Resume Examples

Download this free resource to see resume examples from MBA admits to top programs

What to Include in Your MBA Resume

Now that we've nailed the best MBA resume format, we can talk about what actually goes into the resume — your contact information, professional background, education, and leadership/other involvement. We'll take it step by step.

Contact Information

This one is pretty obvious. Include the following:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Phone number
  4. LinkedIn profile

Separate the information by vertical lines, dashes, or bullets. It should look like this:

Professional Experience

TThe next, and most important section, on your resume will detail your professional experience. Expect for this block to take up roughly two-thirds of the document. Here, you'll list your professional accomplishments in reverse chronological order.*Note that if you’re a deferred MBA candidate, you’ll follow the same instructions below; you’ll just populate your professional experience section with your college internships and other experiences.

Here are a few tips and tricks on writing a strong professional experience section of your MBA resume:

1. Start With Company, Role, and Dates

This sounds obvious, but the first thing you need to do is state where you worked, your role, and how long you were in that role. If it's not a name-brand company, include a single line explaining what the company is and does, including some stats about it (number of offices, number of employees, annual revenue, etc). 

Examples:

  • Leading knowledge processing org in India, with operations in X countries and XX annual revenue
  • VC firm started by HBS professor, X Name
  • Series A startup making education more accessible

2. Nail Your Bullets

For each role that you list, detail your most significant actions and achievements in bullet point format. These are not mere job descriptions; they're articulations of exact actions and specific skills you put in place in your job to drive your company forward. State what you did, any leadership elements, and the accompanying result to the business, to show the admissions committee that you have a track record of positive impact in your past professional roles. Make sure you are showing organizational-level impact. Ask yourself, “Would the CEO of this company care about what I’m writing in these bullet points?” If the answer is “No”, they’re probably not good enough.

Pro tip: Write all bullets in the past tense, for professionalism and consistency.

3. Highlight Leadership

Business school is all about leadership, so highlight this as much as possible. Whenever possible, spotlight instances where you led groups, teams, and projects. Even small things, like organizing a company-wide social event, matter.

Examples:

- Managed 3 marketing interns; oversaw 3 summer-long intern projects resulting in 47% customer acquisition growth- Led global IT team of 5 to automate semiconductor design; reduced cycle cost by 15%

4. Quantify/Specify

For every bullet, be as specific about what you accomplished as possible. What numeric results did your actions drive? How much money did you make or save for your company? Each bullet should communicate tangible proof of your actions, as well as the significance of those actions to the company. The goal is to highlight to the admissions committee that you’re a change agent, someone who can bring about significant, measurable outcomes. Think about this as context – everyone does things, so why is what you did important? Why does it matter to the organization?

Examples:

- Oversaw $171M annual R&D budget; provided data analytics for 5 R&D Vice Presidents

- Acquired $2M+ in real estate, realizing an average portfolio ROI of 35%

- 1 of 25 students admitted to selective non-degree program for post-undergraduate students

5. Use Strong Action Verbs

When describing your accomplishments, don’t settle for non-descriptive words like “worked” and “did.” Aim for more punchy verbs like “executed,” “spearheaded,” and “drove.” (Try not to use the same verb twice.) It sounds like a small thing, but the way you describe what you’ve done matters. When you’re competing against thousands of other applicants, every word counts!

Examples:

- Spearheaded group of 10 to produce 2015 Super Bowl TV campaign

- Trained 15 new caregivers on COVID-19 protocols, reducing patient incidence by 34%

- Evaluated asset packages and built net asset value models to forecast production

6. Show Growth
Each of the roles you list should indicate an upward professional trajectory. If you started your career as an Analyst but were advanced to Associate and then Director, show that in separate headings within that company — admissions committees are looking for up-and-coming stars and quick risers. Promotions are a key signal of growth, of course, but taking on more challenging projects within a role and driving impressive results is just as important.

7. Include Your Soft Skills

While hard skills and technical expertise (i.e. financial forecasting, market research, etc.) are essential, admissions committees also look for soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Some applicants may simply list these skills at the bottom of their resume, but it’s far better for you to provide concrete examples of how you’ve successfully demonstrated them in your past roles. For instance, rather than saying you have good communication skills, highlight them in one of your specific achievements

Example: Completed project on-time and on-budget by bringing the team together through clear communication of goals and deadlines.

Education

Now that you've nailed the professional experience section, you can tackle the education section.

For each degree, mention the university, degree/major, date of graduation, GPA, and any honors and distinctions (including impressive athletic or extracurricular involvement). As with your work experience, choose your bullets so as to showcase impressive achievements and leadership skills.

Add a new entry for every degree and include the name of the degree, university, graduation date, major, minor (if applicable), GPA, honors, and achievements.

For applicants with more work experience, you can choose to keep each entry brief and highlight only the key achievements (if any) along with any research work, projects, etc. that show your leadership skills or exemplary business qualifications.

When done right, the education section should look like so:

Leadership and Other Involvement

This last section is the place where you can detail any other leadership bona fides, extracurricular involvement, volunteer experience, and other personal accomplishments that might distinguish you from all the other MBA candidates.

When choosing these bullets, prioritize the ones with the greatest impact: where you led teams at your local charity, implemented a change at your alma mater, spearheaded the fundraising committee for your high school's 5th-year reunion, and raised several hundred thousand dollars, etc. As with the rest of the resume, your goal is to depict leadership potential, the ability to drive results, and a knack for collaboration.

Finally, select those bullets that no other candidates could possibly list on their resume: the book you wrote with your State Senator, the community garden you helped plant whose proceeds went to benefit HIV research, the Six Sigma Black Belt certification you earned in your spare time. Languages, sports, and hobbies make great bullets here.

(And, of course, quantify and specify these bullets just as you did in the professional and education sections!)

Here's how your section might look:

See our MBA resume samples below for instances of well-done leadership bullets. You'll have to give some thought to which bullets you should or shouldn't include.

Key Takeaways

  • Contact Information: Include your name, address, phone number, and LinkedIn profile.
  • Professional Experience: Detail your career achievements, use strong action verbs, and quantify your impact.
  • Highlight Leadership: Showcase instances where you've led teams, projects, or initiatives.
  • Education: List degrees, institutions, graduation dates, GPAs, and notable honors or achievements.
  • Leadership and Other Involvement: Detail extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and unique personal accomplishments.

Additional MBA Resume Tips & Tricks

Okay, we've covered the biggest parts of the resume — now, let's bring it home with a few final tips and tricks.

1. Don't Exaggerate

This goes without saying, but we’re putting it here, anyway. Many applicants are tempted to inflate their stats or give themselves promotions on their resumes. Don’t do it. If you get to the interview phase, you’ll be held accountable for every word on your resume, and schools conduct a thorough background check on each admitted candidate to make sure they’ve done everything they say they have. Again: don’t do it.

2. Focus on YOUR impact

Rather than indicate company-wide results, be hyper-focused on highlighting your own impact: what you did, and the results you drove. Business schools aren’t admitting a company or your team — they’re admitting you! (And you’ll want to have concrete, ownable answers for when you arrive at your MBA interview.)

3. Don't Use Technical Jargon

Remember, the admissions committee members reading your resume aren't experts in your given field. Don't bog them down with technical terms. Of course, you should explain what you did in your roles, but it's more important to indicate the impact you drove in that role than it is to get the scientific descriptions exactly right.

4. Double-Check Everything!

This also goes without saying but make sure to go over your resume once before you submit it; it's really easy to overlook punctuation and spelling errors when you've been looking at your computer screen for hours on end, and you don't want to discover a typo the day after you submit your application!

5. Human Touch (or Don’t Be a Robot!)

Finally—and this one often gets overlooked—be yourself! As we said, admissions officers will read thousands of applications in a cycle, and if you can offer a hint of humanity, a breath of fresh air, it will stand out. The last section of your resume is a good place to include little human touches.

Examples:

  • Love reading (Asian American novels), animals (parrots), and films (romantic comedies)
  • Avid hiker, cyclist, and whitewater rafting guide
  • Mastered the art of banana bread (2020)

Write a Top-Notch Business School Resume with the Help of an Expert

We know that writing a resume for MBA admission can easily get difficult and stressful. If you prefer to work in a one-on-one setting for personalized resume feedback, schedule an intro call with one of our top resume coaches. Here are some of our highest-rated MBA admissions experts, all of which have successfully helped MBA candidates gain admission to top business schools around the country.

MBA Resume FAQs

How long should my MBA resume be?

  • MBA resumes should be a single page. Admissions committees prefer concise, well-organized resumes that provide a clear snapshot of your professional journey without overloading them with information.

What format and font should I use for my MBA resume?

  • Stick to classic fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial in 11-12 point size, with 14-point font for headings. Ensure the document is in black and white, with one-inch margins, and save it as a PDF to maintain formatting.

How should I structure the professional experience section of my resume?

  • List your professional experience in reverse chronological order, detailing your most significant actions and achievements in bullet points. Start with the company name, role, and dates, and use strong action verbs to highlight leadership, quantify results, and demonstrate your impact.

How can I effectively include soft skills in my resume?

  • Instead of merely listing soft skills, integrate them into your professional accomplishments with concrete examples. For instance, demonstrate communication skills by highlighting how clear communication helped achieve on-time project completion.

What should I include in the education section of my MBA resume?

  • For each degree, mention the university, degree/major, date of graduation, GPA, and any honors or distinctions. Highlight any research, projects, or extracurricular involvement that showcase leadership and business qualifications.

What should I highlight in the leadership and other involvement section?

  • Detail any leadership roles, volunteer experiences, and personal accomplishments that set you apart from other candidates. Focus on the greatest impact you had and include unique experiences or certifications that showcase your leadership potential and collaborative skills.

Can I use my current job application resume for my MBA application?

  • No, it’s important to remember that a resume for MBA admission functions differently than something you’d submit in a job application. It should focus on your business credentials, teamwork skills, and leadership potential rather than just industry knowledge and professional experience. Tailor it specifically for the MBA admissions process and, even better, for the specific school you’re applying to.

What are some final tips for perfecting my MBA resume?

  • Avoid exaggerations, focus on your individual impact, avoid technical jargon, double-check for errors, and add a human touch to make your resume stand out. Personal interests and hobbies can help provide a fuller picture of who you are.

For more resume tips, read this article by a GSB MBA with years of experience reviewing resumes: An Expert’s Guide to Resumes: Five Tips to Make You Stand Out.

Finally, be sure to check out these articles for more tips on how to master the MBA application process:

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