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MBA Admissions Tip: Top 5 Resume Mistakes

Posted in Test Prep on October 29, 2010 by

This post comes to us from Igor Khayet, President and Founder of My Resume Shop.

As a former admissions interviewer for the Yale School of Management and owner of a career services company, I have seen hundreds of resumes targeted for admission into business school. Sometimes, all it takes to stand out from the crowd is simply avoiding the common pitfalls of bad resume writing. Do not take this process lightly — the resume is the only document in the application that summarizes your entire candidacy. Additionally, most business schools base the admissions interview on the resume and not the entire application.

Here are the 5 most common resume mistakes — and how to avoid them:

1) Focus on Responsibilities

If you have the line “responsible for” in your resume, remove it. Resumes are not about goals, tasks, and responsibilities. Resumes are about achievements. The achievement bullets focus on things you have accomplished as opposed to things you were supposed to accomplish. A good achievement bullet is written in past tense and discusses the context of the situation, what your action was, and the impact it had on the organization (see next paragraph).

2) Lack of Impact

Presented findings to senior managers. Wrote extensive analysis on European Transportation Industry. Participated in monthly project manager meetings. These three examples lack impact, which is critical to writing a great resume. Each bullet should answer not only what you did, but why it matters.  If you presented findings to senior managers, were the recommendations adopted? If you wrote an extensive analysis of the European Transportation Industry, how was the report used within the company or externally? If you participated in monthly project manager meetings, what was your role in the meeting? Great resumes focus on impact!

3) Quantity Over Quality

Most resumes are packed with so much information that it makes it hard for the reader to focus on what is important. Remember that people do not have a lot of time to review each resume and that looking at resume after resume becomes repetitive and boring. Your resume should focus on the quality of information included – not quantity. Three to five bullets per experience that are compelling, descriptive, and show impact are much more impressive than eight one-line bullets that are poorly written and/or do not show impact or clarify the context of the situation.

4) No Story

Your resume is not simply an autobiography of all of the information about you. A good business school resume tells a story of where you have been, what skills you currently possess, and where you want to go in the future. If you are interested in Corporate Social Responsibility but have nothing on your resume that relates to social causes and philanthropy, this will be a tough sell to the admission committee. Do not simply focus on professional work experience, but find other ways to bring out interest such as membership in professional organizations, participation in conferences and workshops, or volunteer work.

5) Aesthetically Unappealing

As a business school applicant, you should already know that presentation matters a lot. The presentation of the resume is no different. A correct use of fonts, styles, and format will make your resume easy to read, and serve as a great marketing tool. Alternatively, crazy fonts and an inconsistent use of style will instantly put you at a disadvantage. One common mistake is having too many section headings that do a poor job organizing the information on your resume. Stick to a simple format of 3 sections: Education, Professional Work Experience, and Additional Information and Skills.

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 current member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches. Connect with him on Facebook: and Twitter: