From deciding how to format your experience, to knowing which skills to highlight – curating an impactful resume can be a challenging task. When applying to business school, your resume is an important element to telling your story. It is what links your education, skills, and career expertise, and shows schools why you’re the best fit for their program.
Here are 5 steps to write a powerful and impactful resume – how to show impact, highlight your most noteworthy attributes, and land that interview you deserve.
1. Show Impact.
A good resume quantifies the impact that you have made on a given project or organization. The impact could be in terms of currency (size of a deal, amount of money saved, etc.), people (number of teams, people, or departments that you had to interface or negotiate with), or process (improvement made on processes, time saved, etc.)
Anything that illustrates how you identified an opportunity and took initiative is a necessary element to include. Focus on showcasing projects that demonstrate your leadership and/or ability to collaborate with a team.
2. Applicable Experience.
Explain the nature of the organization or company that you worked for by including 1 – 2 lines of text above its corresponding experience. If you have a lot of work experience, make sure you are selective when choosing which experience to showcase.
When deciding on which experience to include on your resume, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is this work meaningful?
- Does this role illustrate a specific skill or accomplishment?
- Does this experience support my career path?
- Does this position fit into my overall story and support my future goals?
3. Show Growth.
Avoid filling your resume of masses of jargon. You want to spell out your accomplishments through tactful examples of promotions, responsibilities or new skills you obtained. Focus on demonstrating leadership, growth and how each skill, role and experience influences the progression of your professional and academic career. Lastly, emphasize how others recognized your growth. For example, you might highlight a specific project that benefitted the great good of the company.
The rule of thumb is, the more time you spent at a company or organization, the more space it should take up on your resume. The time spent looking at a resume is roughly half a minute. Therefore, each line must be impactful and reveal a captivating image of who you are and what you can do. Rank your accomplishments in order of relevance and place the strongest material at the top of your resume. Your career experience should go in sequence of date starting with most recent.
At the very top of your resume, you want to designate the first section for a few impactful bullet points that demonstrate your qualifications and achievements. It is helpful to write this section as a last step after you’ve written all of your professional experience. To reiterate, you want this information to be concise and impactful.
If you have been working for more than 5 years, we recommend placing educational information after your work experience. You may highlight additional information such as honors, publications, patents, and relevant volunteer experience below your education. Make sure this information adds significance to your story. Often, such highlights can help fuel a conversation during a business school interview.
5. Style and Length.
Keep your resume to one page. If you are applying to business school most likely you have fewer than 10 years of experience. Everything should fit on one page. You’re ability to prioritize and condense information is very important. Edit out any “fluff” or repetitive language. You want every word to count and stay away from cliché actions words such as self-starter, attention to detail, etc. You want to use examples that don’t just tell, but shows how you posse these qualities.
In some cases resume creativity is appreciated. For example, if you were applying for a graphic design position. In this case, when styling your resume refer to a school’s standards or use basic formatting standards. Stick to a clean look, with lines to separate resume sections, 1-inch margins, bold headings or roles to indicate importance, and use 10-12 point font that is conservative and legible.
Crafting the perfect resume is no simple task. But that doesn’t mean you should give up even before you start. Use these 5 steps to help you craft a resume that shows you are a qualified candidate and ready for the next step: the interview.
For help in crafting your business school resume and application strategy, contact Ivy Advisors.