This MBA admissions tip comes to us from Igor Khayet, founder of My Resume Shop.
There are two broad categories of MBA applicants: those who naturally fit the MBA stereotype, and those who naturally stand out. No matter what group you fall into, the challenge is to present yourself as a hybrid of both. No school wants to admit a clone, nor do they want to take a person whose skills and career trajectory aren’t relevant to a business degree.
For the moment, let’s focus on the former category: the “typical” consultants and the bankers out there. How can you make sure your application doesn’t get lost in the shuffle?
1. Add a Dimension
We’re not talking about a parallel universe, but rather about adding another layer of depth to your application. This means talking about your life outside of work. Be strategic here. The admissions committee wants to hear about things that contribute to your profile in a meaningful way—no need to mention your weekly pedicures or dog therapy sessions. Remember that your MBA resume should be distinct from your job application resume. Focus on your leadership experience, membership in relevant organizations, and involvement in your community. At a basic level, b-schools want to know what kind of things drive you, not what kind of things you drive.
2. Be a Professional Outside of the Office
If you have initiative and a good idea, it’s easy to find ways to set yourself apart. And remember: the Internet is your friend. Think about starting a blog on something you are passionate about, or developing a small start-up website. You can even volunteer your services to a local nonprofit. These examples will lend a certain vibrancy to that black-and-white one-sheeter. Professional experience doesn’t have to come from the workplace; this section of your resume can and should also include selections from these sources.
3. Act Like a Leader
To be a good administrator, you need to be a good leader. That’s sort of what business school is all about. Many applicants make the mistake of listing off their achievements without having any real focus. Its good to remind yourself that you are pursuing a degree in business administration. As many examples as you can give of your leadership skill and potential, the better. It’s going to be assumed that you are a master Powerpoint-er and financial decision modeler. Emphasize experiences you’ve had in training new employees, heading up recruitment, and leading projects.
4. Listen to Socrates: Know Thyself
At the end of the day, remember that your resume is your story. You have only one page to exhibit your multidimensional self. Don’t simply write what you think admissions officers want to see; make sure you also take the time to think about your real goals, desires, needs and motivations. Maybe you won’t state them explicitly, but if you’ve given enough time to considering them, your resume will be a more holistic representation of who you are. The better you know yourself, the better the admissions committee will get to know you.
Igor Khayet is the President and Founder of My Resume Shop. He is a former Admissions Interviewer for the Yale School of Management and a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.