If you have an MBA the world might just be your oyster! But it depends on your specialization and what you want to do with it.
It’s certainly a sought-after degree and with reason.
A Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) poll shows that 78% of employers planned to hire recent MBA graduates in 2019. According to the US-based GMAC, that was 1% more than the actual figures for MBA hires in 2018.
So if you’re in the market to study for an MBA, you’re going to have to work on your resume to show you’re a winner.
Resume objective for an MBA
There are some of the world’s best MBA programs offered at university schools of business in the US. But competition is tough and only the top business graduates are accepted.
This means that you need a carefully thought out, well-written, targeted resume to help you get into the MBA program of your choice.
You are probably thinking that you already have a post-degree resume because you wrote it for the job you got when you graduated. Maybe you’ve used it to get several jobs. But an MBA resume isn’t the same as other resumes.
According to Scott Edinburgh, an MBA graduate with a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a professional resume compiled for a job will show potential employers your skills and experience, and ability for a specific job.
An MBA resume must be crafted to show how you have succeeded in demonstrating leadership.
He advises against outlining any type of previous job description in an MBA resume – which is essentially what the traditional resume objective does.
Instead, he says, highlight your key accomplishments and mention initiatives you have led. Show how you have succeeded and excelled, particularly in relation to your peers.
Devised and facilitated an outbound communications plan for a voice-activated product that became cash-flow positive within a year. Led college recruiting efforts and mentored new undergraduate business students. Eager to increase future entrepreneurial success with an MBA.
Resume skills for an MBA
It is important to include the skills you have acquired in an MBA resume so that admissions directors see you are likely to excel.
The University at Buffalo School of Management recommends starting resume statements with action verbs when you describe your skills. If you use the list form we suggest, use the skill without the verb, but incorporate action verbs elsewhere.
A career resource they offer has a list of the most appropriate skills with a wide selection of action verb examples including:
- Communication and people skills: Assisted, collaborated, communicated, convinced, demonstrated, mediated, persuaded, resolved.
- Creative skills: Conceptualized, designed, developed, enhanced, formulated, initiated, produced.
- Data and financial skills: Administered, assessed, budgeted, calculated, estimated, evaluated, projected, researched.
- Helping skills: Advocated, aided, clarified, coached, encouraged, expedited, guided, resolved.
- Management and leadership skills: Administered, chaired, coordinated, established, headed, improved, led, supervised.
- Organizational skills: Executed, implemented, monitored, organized, processed, responded, scheduled, validated.
- Research skills: Analyzed, compared, determined, explored, formulated, interviewed, researched, summarized.
According to Ilana Kowarski, a US News reporter who covers graduate school admissions and produces advice content for applicants to MBA programs, the best MBA resumes focus on soft, power skills that are essential to business leadership. Teamwork skills should also be highlighted.
Written and verbal communication | People-oriented | Creativity | Quantitative and financial skills | Helpful | Good leadership and management | Organized | Problem solver | Research
MBA work experience
The section on work experience in an MBA resume is vital. Additionally, many programs require students to have one or more years of work experience before they will be accepted into an MBA program.
Remember that MBA programs are designed to develop leadership and admissions teams are likely to look for evidence of leadership skills and experience in previous jobs or projects.
Offer specifics in terms of what you have achieved and focus on career advancement. Make sure the experience you include adds value to your application.
The career advisors at Indeed advise highlighting your most important achievements and emphasize the importance of including figures and/or statistics to show the impact you have had.
They also caution applicants on over-explaining job responsibilities and including unnecessary details. Focus on accomplishments.
If you have opted to do an MBA directly after completing a bachelor’s degree focus on projects you’ve been involved in, even if these were student-based.
Generally, your work experience will be determined by the bachelor’s degree you have and what it has qualified you for. Some positions graduates have before they undertake an MBA include database administrator, and marketing, or medical and health services, financial, or business operations managers. But there are many more, including those below.
Sample Work Experience
World Learning, DC
Human Resources Generalist, 2017 – 2019
Responsible for providing administrative support in implementing policies and processes in all the company offices. Reported to the Vice President of HR & Administration.
- Coordinated intern recruitment and maintained relationships with interns and work-study partners.
- Supported the HR manager and the benefits and compensation systems and implemented a process that translated to savings of more than $1-million.
- Managed logistics for HR meetings, training, orientations, conferences, and webinars.
- Provided support for international program administration projects that boosted company revenue by 25% during my time there.
Project Manager, 2016 – 2017
Supported the print merchandising organization in managing a product line for supply, margin, and sales chain. Undertook research, ad hoc financial planning, analysis, promo planning, SKU set-up and maintenance, reporting, and communications.
- Administered the ordering platform and established a successful process that optimized the utilization of systems to improve processing effectiveness and the customer experience.
- Conducted market research, gathered industry data, tracked trends, themes, and competitive shopping to help with assortment selection. Kept charge of the assortment planner template and produced reports regularly.
- Streamlined the product content procedure to improve the ordering platform and maximize visibility, searchability, and ease of ordering. This led to a 10% decrease in sourcing costs in the first six months.
- Maintained a promotion tracker for pricing, markdowns, images, timing, assets, targeting, and results.
State of Washington Health Care Authority, WA
Management Analyst Intern, 2016
Worked with a team of four overseeing and undertaking quality analyses of legislative bills that affect the HCA and its partners.
- Produced health policy and analytical documents that were used to support the team.
- Wrote complex assigned bill analyses for the policy division.
- Co-presented the results of an impact study to management that was used as a baseline for a new legislative bill.
- Served as the go-to person for the coordination of HCA policy division bill analyses. Worked with subject matter experts and assumed team leadership to completion.
Because an MBA is a postgraduate degree, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree under your belt before you can apply for admission.
Most of the top schools, including Harvard Business School (HBS), require four-year degrees even though some bachelor’s degrees can be completed in only three years.
Some schools and universities require a minimum grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.6 to qualify. Even if they don’t, a higher GPA will strengthen your application.
A Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test or a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will often be asked for.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights several occupations where employers often prefer to hire candidates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. They include management analysts, computer and information systems managers, accountants and auditors, and human resource managers.
As the experts at Washington State University’s Carson College of Business point out, MBA concentrations will help students focus on their career-specific goals and interests.
They offer a choice of four concentration areas: marketing, finance, international business, and hospitality business management as well as a general MBA.
The Stern School of Business offers a general full-time and part-time MBA as well as specialized tech and fashion & luxury MBAs.
BA, 2006 – 2009
- Major: Economics
An MBA opens doors to certifications of various kinds, all of which are widely recognized and highly respected. But, of course, you need to have an MBA to be able to apply for them.
There are, of course, certifications in many of the fields that MBA students enter once they have a bachelor’s degree – all attainable without an MBA.
For example, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers certification for business analysts from entry-level to professional.
The American Institute for Business Management and Communication (AIBMC) is regarded as the benchmark for business professionals, and they administer the Certified Operations Manager (COM) certification.
This certification is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of experience in an operations management area plus at least 25 hours of operations management approved training.
They also offer two other certifications, Certified Supply Chain Manager (CSCM) and Certified Purchasing & Inventory Manager (CPIM).
Depending on what your specialization for your MBA will be, any of these certifications could look great on your MBA resume.
Once you have your MBA you can become a certified information systems auditor, financial risk manager, or project management professional. There is certification available in risk management assurance and production and inventory management, and more.
- IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- AIBMC – COM
- AIBMC – CSCM
- AIBMC – CPIM
Complete MBA resume sample
We sampled MBA resumes and researched programs at several schools of business to find an example that would be suitable for a sample MBA resume. We decided on the popular, full-time, two-year MBA offered by the Harvard Business School (HBS).
While this isn’t a job application, a resume is critical for acceptance to any MBA program.
You will see from the information above that applicants for the HBS MBA must have a four-year undergraduate degree. Usually, candidates have a bachelor of art or bachelor of science.
They also require GMAT or GRE test results.
The application must be in writing and must include a resume.
On its website, HBS states the characteristics they look for in candidates and explains how to complete the admissions process. Leadership skills are vital!
Determined and driven Business Administration graduate with five years of working experience seeks admission to the MBA program. To concentrate on Leadership and Corporate Accountability, and Strategy. Has developed strategies, led business operations teams, and formulated business processes.
Communication and collaboration | Time management | Strong leadership and organizational skills | Data and financial skills | Budgeting and calculations for improvement | Advocacy, and mentorship
Business Operations & Strategy Manager, 2019 – 2020
Worked with the Regional Vice President to manage, standardize, and optimize the company’s internal selling process. This included cross-discipline integration and driving operational effectiveness and efficiency as well as cost optimization.
- Developed a strategy to make it easier to do business with Datalink.
- Positioned the region to execute a balanced revenue portfolio.
- Generated recommendations for business processes and improvement based on data analysis.
- Increased overall region productivity and sales efficiency that added close to $1-million of top-line revenue.
- Increased employee satisfaction by generating and supplying the sales and engineering teams with a unique resource to reduce non-selling and tactical activities. This allowed them to focus on strategic opportunities that further increased profitability.
Manager Business Operations, 2018 – 2019
Provide the operations, reporting, and processes needed to improve the company’s Biz Ops activities. Conducted financial forecasting, provided regular reports and analytics, created and presented executive requests, and proposed business deal assessments.
- Successfully automated existing reports and planning tools and created process flows for financial and operational reports and deliverables in the form of dashboards.
- Coordinated with sales and account managers regarding performance and provided regular updates to the Director of Business Operations.
- Developed inner-quarter updates and annual planning updates on the business that we were welcomed as pivotal for company growth.
- Conducted audits using key performance indicators and trends identified by the industry, and proposed ongoing solutions. The threat of viruses and malware reduced by 8% as a result of these solutions.
- Lead the business operations team when the director was on leave or unavailable.
Junior Operations Manager, 2018
Managed material resources efficiently. Communicated with the HR department and coordinated with other departments on time-sensitive projects. Met the ambitious goals set by the company.
- Improved the company procedures for outgoing and incoming resources and tracking of inventory. Saved at least $150,000 over the year.
- Reviewed all financial statements for discrepancies before forwarding to customers and vendors.
- Kept up-to-date records with customers and vendors and increased our regular customer base by 12%.
- Managed various financial documents as required by management.
- AIBMC – COM
Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, 2014 – 2017
An MBA resume is not the same as the usual professional resume you have previously created when you applied for jobs. An MBA resume must be designed to show admissions personnel that you have the experience and skills to succeed and excel in your studies and future jobs.
- Key skills for an MBA candidate are communication, leadership, and innovation. Your resume should highlight evidence that you have these skills.
- Action verbs and related adjectives that match keywords the college or university is looking for will make you stand out if they are using an applicant tracking system (ATS). Even if they don’t, using them will usually help your resume stand out.
- At least a year of work experience is required by most MBA schools but they will be more interested in your achievements than the job responsibilities you had. Try to add figures and statistics to boost your accomplishments.
Tips from Experts
“The MBA resume is a whole other animal from the standard curriculum vitae designed to land you a job. The resume you tailor specifically for business schools should offer a quick snapshot of your significant work experiences and accomplishments in three areas that showcase your MBA-relevant skills: leadership, communication, and innovation.“ – Stacy Blackman, founder of the MBA admissions advisory firm Stacy Blackman Consulting
“Do not outline your job description. Too often I read resume bullets that list a candidate’s tasks and responsibilities. This might be great for proving you can do a specific job, but it does nothing to differentiate you from other applicants. Anyone in your role could copy and paste these bullets from the job description. Think about your key accomplishments and highlights and focus on these.” – Scott Edinburgh, MIT MBA graduate and personal MBA coach
“It’s the MBA applicant’s job to make sure each part of their application demonstrates value.“ – Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted, a California-based admissions consulting group
It takes courage and conviction to move out of a successful corporate environment and go back to college, especially if you are planning to study full time. It will also cost time, money, and considerable effort.
Most people agree that studying for an MBA is only worth it if you are aiming to work in business-related fields, or management and other leadership roles.
While an MBA promises an education on core business topics, higher caliber job opportunities, and an introduction to a prestigious network of people, you need to be sure this is what you want and need to do.
Once you are certain, you need to craft a resume that will ensure you are accepted by the business school of your choice. Use the tips and suggestions given here to do just this.