Tips to maximise your CV for an MBA
How to Revamp Your CV to Make Your MBA Application Stand-Out.
When applying for an MBA programme, virtually all programmes ask for a current Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume. Students who have yet to gain much real-world experience often feel pressured to make their CV perfect, and even seasoned professionals can sometimes find themselves struggling at having to go back and appropriately update their CV to reflect the advancements they have made in their career.
That’s why we’ve compiled a general outline to building your resume in a way that is compelling and intriguing to an MBA admission’s department.
CV Tips to Remember
Keep your CV clear, simple, and attractive to the eye.
Aude Theobald — the Head of Admissions for both the full-time Global MBA in Nice and part-time Executive MBA in Paris or Lille — states that CVs with overly elaborate formatting hinder rather than help applicants.
She notes that it’s worrying because they often lack structure, and it becomes difficult to discern pertinent information on the candidate behind the flashy graphics and non-conventional layouts.
“I think it's important for potential candidates to consider not just what's in the CV, and how to create it, but also what the purpose is,” says Aude. “It should be easy to read, and structured in a way in which it is easy to understand the candidate’s accomplishments and career trajectory. If they can show progression in their career, evidence of leadership and a global outlook, that’s what we are looking for.”
- Keep the length of your CV to 1 or 2 pages maximum
- Refrain from using full sentences or “I” statements
- Utilise bullet points wherever possible, and make your key information easily identifiable.
Keep in mind that admissions managers must go through many applications, so maximising the efficiency of your CV’s ability to showcase your personality, strengths, and accomplishments will make it that much easier for you to stand out.
It’s also important to find the right balance in your tone of voice when writing your CV. You want to make sure you are selling your best professional accomplishments, but be careful not to sound as if you are boasting, exaggerating, or making false claims. You’re in a competition — so make your added-value stand out.
Personal Details on your MBA CV
It seems fairly obvious, but it’s essential to have your basic information noted clearly and legibly at the top of your CV. Your full name, nationality, and relevant contact information should be immediately evident.
While this information may be available in other parts of your application, placing it front and centre will make it easier for your admission manager to connect the dots and gain additional information on you.
The education section of your CV should start with your most recent and highest level of education. In addition to the name of school, city/country, and the degree title (in bold), in academic environments it is also appropriate to list your GPA and class rank, if known.
Remember to provide clear start and finish dates, regardless of how long ago it was completed.
EDHEC’s programmes have a strong international focus, which is why we recommend you take this opportunity within your CV to highlight any international study, exchanges or programmes abroad you have previously participated in.
This section of your CV should also be listed in reverse chronological order, with your most recent professional endeavors listed at the top.
The standard information should include the name of the company (with a brief description if the company is not widely known, or if it is not clear what the company does by its title), the city and country in which you worked at the job, and the title of the position(s) you held while involved with the company.
As tempting as it can be to describe every element of the job you did and how you did it, don’t go into too much technical detail. You are not applying for a job, and the admissions department isn’t interested in knowing everything about every position you’ve worked. They are looking for a holistic representation of the work experience you have obtained and the primary knowledge and skills you have acquired because of it. Things to highlight in particular:
- Evidence of progression or taking on additional responsibilities
- Demonstrate relevant leadership experiences - leading a project for example or a team of people
- Highlight any international experience or dimensions of your work if you have them
Training / Leisure & Personal Interests on your MBA Resume
These sections can be managed at your discretion, and they are the appropriate place to mention any professional training courses you have taken, any awards, publications, presentations, professional licenses, certifications, or volunteer experiences you believe are relevant to the application.
While not mandatory, a “Leisure” or “Personal Interest” section gives your CV a personalised touch, and helps it feel less distant and robotic. At EDHEC, we keep our cohorts small and we place a high level of importance on your personality and the value you can bring to your fellow classmates - so this can be a great section to showcase these factors.
How to Handle Gaps in Your CV
Many people get nervous if they have any gaps in their CV due to taking time off or working in a non-relevant job for a while. Some will try to hide these facts and not include them in their CV - but it is actually better to just be honest and upfront about your past experience.
Application committees can easily tell when someone is trying to hide gaps in their CV, and this can even be flagged as a reason for the application to be rejected. Instead, be transparent about your past. You will have the chance to talk about the details of your CV during the interview process if the committee is interested.
“Sometimes we have candidates who stop working to travel abroad to take care of a family member or loved one. Who would blame them for that?” Theobald says. “As long as you can explain why you have a hole in your CV, you don't have to hide what you've done during your life.”
Here at EDHEC, candidates’ CVs are viewed along with a completed application form, two recommendation letters, a Kira assessment (incl. interview and essay writing), and test results from the GMAT/GRE/TAG MAGE (as well as IELTS or TOEFL results for applicants from non-English-speaking countries) as well as one-to-one interviews.
It’s clear that your CV is not the be-all-and-end-all for getting into an MBA programme. But when done correctly, a CV provides a window into the applicant’s professional career path up until now, and allows the admissions commision to delve further into your profile in order to see your compatibility with the programme as a whole.