Hi! My name is Matt Bird and I am a member of the Admissions Committee at NYU Stern MBA Admissions. I previously worked in college career centers for years as a resume reviewer, which makes me very passionate about helping people sell their work experience effectively. Your resume is an opportunity to brag about yourself. What amazing internship did you land? What innovative project did you collaborate on? How many deals did you close? Your resume should be a highlight sheet of your professional story. As application readers, we rely on the Resume and Work Experience sections to describe who you are as a working professional. This post should give you some ideas on making the most of your work experience on your MBA application.
Keep it Snappy.
Many times we see sprawling 2-3 page resumes that contain a laundry list of all job responsibilities. Oftentimes people find it hard to narrow down their role to 3-5 bullets. And we get it. Everything we do is important to us. But a resume is not the place for your autobiography. It is a document to communicate your best of the best. Instead of including 10 bullets on your role, pick 2-3 experiences where you made the most impact. Save the memoir for when you’re a successful business leader.
It is smart to have multiple versions of your resume in order to mix and match experiences tailored to the opportunity. Your resume for Deloitte’s summer internship program may look very different from your resume for a Brand Manager role with L’Oreal. It may even be helpful to have a catch-all resume from which you pick the best experiences to include on the final version. It is important to have the most relevant experiences prominently highlighted. My rule of thumb is if you see yourself talking about an experience in the interview, then include it on the page.
Formatting, formatting, formatting.
In addition to narrowing down your bullet points, formatting can be a very effective way to keep your resume brief. Below are a few tricks to trim the empty space on your page:
- Reduce your margins.
- Identify lines taken up by one word. Simplify the language to get that bullet to one line.
- Play around with format. See if a two column approach eliminates or creates space.
- Job Title, Name of Organization, Date can be one line.
- Slightly reduce your font size. A good range is 10-12 point font.
- Reduce space between section breaks. Just ensure the page doesn’t look too cramped.
Specificity is key.
It is difficult to imagine a person’s impact when reading: “Responsible for day-to-day operations of the company.”
Numbers are helpful here. How many team members did you work with? What was your budget? What did this project result in? Quantitative bullet points paint a clear picture of your role and impact.
It is a bit vague to read a Skills section with words like: Teamwork, Communication, or Management. Anyone can list these as skills. Only you have your specific experiences to showcase them.
Tell your story.
It may be intimidating to compare resumes with your peers. No matter how much experience we have, insecurities may creep in. Regardless of your job titles, your resume is an opportunity to show your trajectory. Your case becomes much more compelling when you clearly demonstrate your professional journey. Don’t get bogged down in worries about not having the perfect portfolio. Instead, highlight your experiences in their best light.
Many applicants worry they will be out of the running if they have less than the average years of work experience. NYU Stern does not have a minimum work experience requirement to apply to the MBA program. We evaluate and accept applicants from many stages of their career. Your Resume and Work Experience section is an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee not only who you are as a working professional, but also who you want to become.