MBA Resume / CV Tips: Are you a one man army?

Apart from GMAT scores, MBA essays & recommedations, there’s the other small formality that you need to take care of – the resume. And we get many CV formats where there are familiar sounding statements (in various creative forms, though):

Version 1: I managed the whole initiative single-handedly in spite of my regular project workload

Version 2: My senior manager sent me an appreciation note for managing the scope all by myself when ideally it was something that would’ve required at least a 3-4 member team.

Version 3: Boss gave me complete ownership of the task and I thought I should not approach anybody else till I tried it alone first. Loss of face was not an option.

The line is staring at you proudly from the screen, waiting for a pat on the back and expecting a ‘Wow! You managed all that all by yourself?’ expression from the reader. But when we are looking at it from the MBA Admissions Officer’s lens, our reaction is generally exactly the opposite.

MBA application reviewers have a different perspective on judging candidates compared to your company management. In all 3 versions, the general tendency of your boss would be to spend minimal resources (the most precious commodity) to get the work done.

Your manager’s key performance indicator (KPI) is to demonstrate productivity and RoI by generating maximum output from minimal inputs. Your KPI as an MBA applicant is to demonstrate that you are good at working with people, reducing the learning curve, sharing knowledge and many other attributes.

By giving any of the 3 versions (or their variations) of the I-me-myself story, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. You’ve just strengthened their perception that you are a foot soldier who’d probably not make a good commander. You’d rather depend on brute force to get the job done as opposed to collaborate. And you are also probably selfish too, because you want to keep all the credit for the success for yourself while your colleagues clap for you (while saying nasty things about you behind your back).

None of these might be true, but an incorrectly presented story could paint that picture. If your application reviewer knew you personally, she’d be able to give you the benefit of doubt and not penalise you for the faux pas. But considering that situation is unlikely, more often than not, her personal biases will come into the picture while interpreting the words she sees in your resume, MBA essays and recommendations. So think about what impact your written material is making on a stranger.

B-school applications are all about introspection. About what happened, why it happened and what you learnt from it. So even if you did do something on your own, position it properly (in the right context, using the right words) and it can enhance your profile.

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// Sameer Kamat
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. For professional Admissions Consulting or Career Counselling, connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook

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