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. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin


  1. PRAGEESHWAR says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I am currently doing my BE Mechanical Engineering at Velammal Engg College and so i haven’t got any work experience.
    My academic qualifications:
    10th – 71%
    12th – 76%
    BE – 6.7(5TH SEM)
    Frankly speaking i am entering this mba field for the money it offers. The money that i earn is really important to me. Do you think i can get a good college with these grades and no work experience? what all should i have on my resume? any advice you give would be of the highest value to me.
    please contact me at

  2. Ravitheja says:

    Hi ,

    I completed BE in 2013, Currently I have 3 years of work experience in IT field. which will be the best choice MS or MBA.

    any comments will be a great help.

  3. Aastha says:

    Hi Sameer,

    Hope you’re doing well!
    By the way of introduction, myself Aastha, a BCA Graduate. I completed the same in 2009 and have been working since 2010 till present. This means I have 15 years of education + 6 years of work experience. I am planning to settle abroad, so wanted to seek an advice. Would this (15 years of education followed by 6 years of work experience) be accepted across USA? Or do I need to either follow one of the b2 options listed below:

    1. Pursue some post graduation course in India before I move abroad?
    2. Pursue an additional 1 year of under graduation course abroad?

    I am unable to identify what should be opted for considering that the post graduate courses hold different values across the globe.

    Further, could you advice some good universities (in USA) wherein the post graduate courses aren’t too expensive?

    Thank you for your help in advance!

  4. Md. rafiqul Islam says:

    Hello sir, I am from Bangladesh, I am doing my undergrad from University of Dhaka, I want to have an MS/MBA degree from US university, I am preparing myself for the GRE exam, I am little bit week in quant section, That’s why I am planning for GRE. Sir, if I will get 320+ in the GRE exam and 2-3 years work experience, is it possible to get full/ maximum scholarship in USA??

  5. Nilesh Malsane says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I’m Nilesh I have just completed my bachelor degree in (IT)engineering actually I want to do MBA in abroad but some of the universities required work experience and right now i don’t have experience so is it possible to get admission for MBA in abroad? Is it essential to candidate must have work experience?

  6. Shubham says:

    Sir I have done my from a private college this year(2016) from EC branch. I want to do MBA from abroad and I have no money to do this,
    If there is any scholarship program then plz tell me,
    And which one is suitable for me Gmat,GRE or CAT exam,
    And now i have not any job, should I have a work experience for this.
    Can I apply for the job in any company or may i teach in any college if I I am not able to find out a job.through teaching there should not be affect in my Carrier.
    Plz sir help me to shortout all these problems.
    Thank you.

  7. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Prageeshwar, Nilesh and Shubham: I’d strongly suggest not rushing into an MBA at this stage. Get a few years of experience and then decide.

    @Ravitheja: What you want to do after graduation should influence the choice. If your goal is to move out of the technical space, an MBA would be better than MS.

    @Aastha: On the topic of 15 years of education, this may help:

    For good and affordable programs, refer to this article:

    @Md. rafiqul: Too many if’s in there, my friend. No one can predict scholarships. The best way to improve your chances would be to put in a strong application to the right programs.

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