Section 6: Your Résumé (and your own custom fonts)
from How to get into a Top-15 MBA Program by Tim Darling
Why is working on your résumé so important? Because schools want students who can get the best jobs when they graduate.
When you graduate and look for jobs, your résumé will look identical to the one you apply with.. except you'll have
an MBA. The MBA will make a bit of difference, but the rest of your work experience, education, goals, awards, etc. will still
be a determining factor. Therefore make sure your résumé when you apply is one that you'd be proud to hand out to recruiters
when you are looking for a job upon graduation.
Along these lines, I've heard that consulting firms often care more about your undergraduate GPA than your graduate GPA
(possibly because full-time job offers can be made even before you start your second year as a graduate student). The top
consulting and investment banking firms have been known to ask for SAT scores!
Work on your résumé a few minutes a night, twice a week, for many months. You'll
be surprised how much you can improve it. What are you missing? What wording can be improved
or shortened? How can you better format the look of it? What are you saying that you
don't need to say -- leave out most technical details.
Work on it and then don't look at it for a couple weeks. Then come back and review it as if you are
on an admissions or hiring committee.
Talk about the consequences of your
actions and projects. Use good action words: Orchestrated, constructed, architected.
Does your résumé show growth, consistency of purpose, and a significant amount of work in a given, relevant field?
It took me months of work to get my résumé to a point where I thought it was the best it could
be. I removed some of the technical jargon and details I had in there initially: if you're
thinking of getting an MBA, you're thinking of moving more into management positions and you
need to sell yourself that way.
You résumé for MBA Admission will probably be a little different from the résumé
you will use to apply to jobs. Many things will be the same. Here are some differences:
Your MBA résumé and any other résumé you use in the future should be similar in these ways:
Make it one page. Some schools, like MIT/Sloan require that. If you don't have the 'executive summary' ability to sum up yourself in
1 page, you will probably be rejected. (It's OK to keep a similar résumé around that's 2 pages for
Do not include your salary on your résumé. MBA programs want successful people who have
scaled up the corporate ladder and led people and innovated... and who make $30k/year.
That way, when they make $150k/yr after graduating, the school can say that they added the huge difference to the pre- and post-salaries.
Regardless of whether you make a lot or a little, don't put it on your résumé.
- Incidentally, the Business
Week online pages about each school
sometimes include the salary information of incoming students.
For Michigan in 2005, it was $56k (average 5 year's work experience)
for full-time and
and $75k (average of 7 years' work experience) for part-time.
Put on your extra-curricular activities and service activities. You shouldn't just 'list' them in your essays,
so if you don't put them here, where will the committee see them?
- Use a standard heading and chronological format. Put your name in bold in the middle, your address on one side, your phone number and email on the other.
- SHOW GROWTH! Say if you were promoted. Say if you moved from a team member to a team leader. It's better to
say you started out small and grew than to 'pretend' you started at the top.
- Quantify! "Directed the merger of 2 companies totaling $1.5 billion". "Generated over $1,000,000 in funding".
- Use 'numerical' numbers. Usually in formal text, you write 'two' instead of '2'. This rule applies up to and including 'one hundred and one'.
However, you want your numbers to JUMP off the page on a résumé. Which of these two leaves the biggest impact on a quick glance?:
- Directed four employees in the sales department
- Directed 4 employees in the sales department
- The rule of 3 - if possible, try to group 3 bullets at a time together,
it's the most appealing number to the eye.
- Use résumé-speak. Leave off the "I" at the beginning of sentences; start with action words; always end each line with a period (even though, with no subject, they're not technically sentences).
Use lots of bullets.
- Use these sections, in this order when applying for an MBA:
- Professional Objective (1 sentence saying what you will do for the company/world/community -
not what you want others to give to you!) Use this to generate excitement and interest. Target it to the
school or company as precisely as possible. An example: "Chief Technical Officer of an
organization where a proven record of managing large software projects is needed."
- Summary and Qualifications (2 or 3 bullets summing up your best argument about why they should be interested in you -
- Selected Professional Experience (in a 1 page résumé you can't have all of your employment).
I prefer 'Experience' and 'Professional Experience' over the more mundane 'Employment'.
- For each place, say if you were promoted or received raises.
- Use bullets to sum up your key consequential accomplishments.
- Education (each school with a bullet or 2 about your accomplishments there)
- Selected Presentations and Publications (if none, don't add this section. Don't 'stretch' anything just to add this section.)
- Selected Awards, Achievements, Extracurricular, and Service (fit in as much as you can here)
- Do not put 'References Available Upon Request'. This gives them no new information -
do you think anyone ever puts 'No References Available'?
- For your name at the top of your résumé and similar:
don't be too formal or "stuffy". If you go by "Jim Smith" instead
of "James Smith III", then use the shorter version of your name.
- Buy Adobe Acrobat Full version and convert your Microsoft Word résumé into PDF on your computer. Then send out the
PDF version. Many MBA online applications will convert Word to PDF for you, but why rely on them?
- Another reason for using
Adobe Acrobat's converter on your computer is that you can tell it to embed fonts. If you want a really cool-looking
résumé, find a font or two that you like on www.adobe.com (Font page) and buy it and install it on your computer. Then
use it in your résumé and essays.
- Why do this? Because admissions committees will read 1000's of essays and résumés in 'Times New Roman'. You
want to stick out any way you can.
- Make sure you use a good and readable font! Times New Roman is good. Use a Serif font
for the text, not a Sans Serif. Make sure you don't use a font that's less appealing than Times New Roman.
- How do you find
a good font? Read a few paper books and look on the last page. They usually tell you what fonts they use. I was reading a book
and loved the font so I bought it. Now I use it in everything - it's my 'trademark' publishing-look.
- Only buy fonts from
Adobe. Other websites may claim to have the same fonts, but you will get an interpretation of the characters and you probably
won't get a full character set.
- I have 2 'custom' fonts I use: one for the body text (it looks like 'Times New Roman') and
the other for the headings (it looks like 'Verdana' or 'MS Sans Serif'). Both of the fonts I use I think are much warmer than
their 'free' counterparts.
- The font business is fun!
- WARNING: When other people view your PDF, they will not have that
new font on their computer. So you have to 'embed' your custom font into the PDF document.
That way, the user without this new font will see it in the PDF document. Test it on a computer that you did not install the
font on to be sure. Embedding simply means that the PDF document will include the specifications for the font. Yes, it can make
the document size bigger- but not by much.
Here's how to tell it to embed your new fonts:
- See the 'Adobe PDF' menu
in Word after installing Acrobat.
- Then goto 'Change Conversion Settings'. Choose 'Press Quality' and click 'Advanced'.
- Add your new fonts to the 'Always Embed' column. Also check 'Always Embed' (note Acrobat will not embed the generic fonts,
like Times New Roman).
Section 7: Essays (page 1)
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All text and pictures copyright © 2005-2006 Tim Darling.