Resume Guide for MBA Students

Updated October 19, 2022

Job competition is fierce, and a strong resume is important for MBA graduates. Learn how to craft an engaging resume to snag an in-person interview. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A finely crafted resume is key to landing the job of your dreams. Resumes are so important that entire industries have been built to help individuals showcase their achievements and work experience to prospective employers. Your resume is the first thing a hiring manager sees and is often the most important factor in determining whether or not you will receive an interview. An MBA resume is especially important for business professionals, since job competition is fierce. If your resume isn't up to the standards of the hiring manager you're trying to impress, he or she will have no trouble finding someone else to pursue. Fortunately, there are several ways you can make your resume stand out.

How to Write a Resume for MBAs

  • Do Your Research

    One of the biggest mistakes you can make is submitting the same cookie-cutter resume to every job you apply for. Research each potential employer, determine what they're looking for in a candidate, and format your resume accordingly. Research can also help you determine if the job will ultimately be a good fit for your professional and personal goals. Do you possess required or preferred skills or certifications? Will you be successful and satisfied if hired?
  • Write Down the Key Points

    Finished resumes can appear deceivingly simple, but you should take special care to outline all the information you want to convey before you open your word processor. Write down the key points you want to highlight. Create a brief outline and consider the impression it will make on your potential employer. Examine your weaknesses, such as lacking professional experience or preferred skills, and determine how your resume presentation can combat them.
  • Format Your Resume

    Finally, prepare a visual representation of everything you have to offer. Expand your outline. Don't be afraid to go beyond simple bullet points, using headers and complete sentences to fill out the information you want the hiring manager to see. While unique formatting may help your resume stand out, make sure that the document still looks professional and easy to read. First impressions matter.

Types of Resumes

A resume should provide the best possible snapshot of a candidate's professional experience, education, and personal accomplishments. When it comes to organizing the information you want to share with a potential future employer, there are multiple methods to choose from, including a reverse-chronological resume, functional resume, or a combination of both. Researching different MBA resume examples will help you decide which format will best display your assets to the hiring manager.


Reverse-chronological is the most popular method of resume formatting. This format lists experience from most recent to least recent. However, this format can also highlight less relevant positions and show any employment gaps.


Functional resumes focus on professional skills rather than employment history. This method is more commonly used by people who are changing careers, since it emphasizes skills instead of previous work in other fields. Functional resumes may also help hide employment gaps.


A combination resume incorporates aspects of both the reverse-chronological and functional methods. This format presents functional skills and qualifications at the top, and then follows up with a reverse-chronological list of employment history. This allows the job seeker to present their most relevant strengths immediately, while also showcasing an excellent work history.

Required vs. Preferred Qualifications

When working on your resume, include all preferred qualifications you would be able to defend in an interview.

Some job postings are fairly straightforward about what an ideal candidate looks like, but others require a bit more interpretation by job seekers. Candidates must know the distinction between required and preferred qualifications. Job seekers absolutely must have required skills to be considered for employment. If your resume does not showcase these qualifications in an obvious manner, the hiring manager will likely move on quickly. Preferred qualifications, however, offer a bit more flexibility. Job seekers assume the more preferred qualifications they have, the better their chances are of securing an interview or employment. However, not possessing all of the preferred qualifications does not necessarily disqualify you. Some job postings list more preferred qualifications than the hiring manager actually expects candidates to have, with the hope of attracting a larger pool of applicants. When working on your resume, include all preferred qualifications you would be able to defend in an interview. Highlight specific examples from prior work experience.

Education and Training

The education section of a resume establishes your foundational knowledge of a particular industry, academic discipline, or occupation. On an MBA resume, you should include all higher education and degrees you have received, including the concentration of your MBA program, if applicable. If you are currently enrolled in school, also include any pending degrees. Consider leaving graduation dates off in order to avoid age discrimination. Listing your GPA is a personal choice; if you receive magna or summa cum laude, you may want to showcase that achievement.


The professional work experience section of your resume holds the most weight. Hiring managers often focus on this section when choosing candidates. List your employment experience in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent positions first, and the least recent positions last. Be sure to include the duration of your employment with beginning and ending dates (month and year are sufficient). Many experts recommend leaving off positions which are unrelated to your current career objective. Consider eliminating positions in other fields, unless you gained relevant skills or interesting experience. You may also choose to include all positions you've held if you do not have much work experience. For each position, highlight a few relevant, specific job duties. Use action verbs and positive adjectives. For example, you might write one of your duties was “completing independent research on consumer behavior and the company's marketing strategy.”


Regardless of whether you developed them on your own, in a work environment, or in school, include any skills on your MBA resume which relate to a business or executive occupation. Tailor your list to the job description. Feel free to include additional skills which may set you apart, even if they aren't specified in the job listing. Be careful not to go overboard, however. A small list of your strongest skills is more effective than a long list of every talent you possess.

Licensure, Certifications

Make sure to list any licensure and certifications earned outside of a college or university setting, including those provided by independent organizations and state or local governments. In listing your credentials, be sure to use the full name of each accolade, rather than an acronym. If applicable, include all license numbers and expiration dates.

Awards, Accomplishments, Affiliations

In this section, you have the opportunity to highlight your membership in professional organizations, awards and accolades you've received, and any major accomplishments that aren't already mentioned in your work history. While you may have a number of awards and organizational memberships, try to list only those which are relevant to the job you are applying for.

Volunteer Work

On an MBA resume, you should only include volunteer work if it directly relates to the job you're applying for. Simply volunteering at the animal shelter won't seem relevant to the hiring manager, but if you volunteered to help manage their marketing or business strategy, that might benefit you. However, some service-oriented employers may appreciate volunteer work. You may also consider adding volunteer experience if you have a short work history.

How to List an MBA on Your Resume

When searching for an executive position in the business industry, your MBA is one of the biggest assets you should show off to the hiring committee. Place it under the education header on your resume. Like work experience and job history, higher education degrees and certificates typically follow reverse-chronological order. You should list the MBA first, above your undergraduate degree. Include information on the school where you enrolled, the years you attended classes, and any specific concentration you pursued.

What Should I Put on My Resume If I Don't Have Any Business Experience?

One of the most difficult hurdles to creating a resume is a lack of relevant, real-world employment experience. This is also a common problem for individuals who are looking to change careers. If you earned an MBA with the hopes of beginning a new profession, but you have little or no business experience beyond the classroom, there are still ways you can sell yourself and your unique qualities to a hiring manager.

Rather than beginning your resume with a list of employment history, start with your education, licenses, skills, and qualifications. By placing your focus on these attributes, you may pique the hiring manager's interest before he or she notes your lack of direct work experience. When it comes to the job history section, however, don't be afraid to list your former jobs that might not be 100% related. Every job you hold has the potential to offer transferable skills to a new and different workplace. What did you learn at jobs A, B, and C that will help you in job D? Also list any relevant volunteer work in its own section, as this may help make up for a lack of paid experience.

What Is A Resume-Reading Robot?

What Is ATS?

The applicant tracking system (ATS) is a unique type of software utilized by large organizations to streamline and assist in the recruitment process. In addition to filtering resumes, ATS makes it easier for companies to monitor the hiring process and communicate directly with a large number of applicants. Resume-reading robots scan your documents to determine whether you have the key skills for the position. While ATS is a useful tool, it may harm applicants whose attributes shine more in a face-to-face meeting rather than on paper. When submitting your MBA resume to a large company that may use ATS software, try to anticipate what keywords to include.

Tips for Outsmarting an ATS

  • Simple Headers: While resumes should include some personal touches, headers are not the place to do it. Use straightforward terms such as “Education,” “Work History,” “Professional Experience,” or “Job Skills.”
  • Clean Format: Take care to make the format and layout of your resume simple in order to prevent any errors or miscommunication. Do not include graphics, which are not processed in the same way as text.
  • Keywords/Phrases: ATS software will not take into account all the words in your resume, so try your best to anticipate what the software is looking for. Include occupation-related phrases such as “leading a team” or “profit and loss.”
  • Industry-Specific Jargon: Using relevant industry language can also give your resume an edge over the competition. This jargon can give you the appearance of professional experience and familiarity with the job's requirements.

Resume Writing Tips for MBAs

  • Tailor Your Resume

    Avoid submitting the same exact resume to every job you apply for. Adjust each one according to the job description, qualifications, and keywords you suspect the hiring manager wants.
  • Save Your Resume Under a Professional Name

    Success is in the details. When saving your resume document and preparing to upload, use your last or full name and professional signifiers. For example, use firstlast_speciality_resume.doc, or something similar.
  • Make It Easy to Read

    Use a format that both resume-reading robots and hiring managers can easily read and interpret. Use simple fonts and plain black color when possible.
  • Include a Cover Letter

    While most job postings require a cover letter, you should consider including one even if not strictly necessary. Your cover letter should supplement your resume, not overshadow it.
  • Keep It to One Page

    Unless you are a long-time professional with decades of relevant experience, try to limit your resume to one page. You should keep a clean document with only relevant information.

Common Mistakes MBAs Make on Their Resumes

  • Typos: In order to avoid typos, proofread your resume and have someone else look it over. Spelling or grammar errors are a quick way for hiring managers to weed out undesirable applicants.
  • Including Personal Information: While you want to include contact information, avoid overly personal information such as your home address. These details may distract the hiring manager from your qualifications.
  • Including Salary Information: Your resume is not the proper place to include salary requirements or past pay. Focus on your qualifications and job skills, and save money talk for the interview.
  • Using Nicknames: If you ultimately land the job, feel free to share your nickname with coworkers. During recruitment, however, using your legal name can streamline the process and maintain a level of professionalism.
  • Using an Unprofessional Email Address: A resume should be the ultimate professional summary of an individual. List an email address that includes your name, rather than the email you created in middle school.
  • First Person Pronouns: Although resumes are all about you, avoid the pronoun “I.” When listing job duties, instead of “I managed bookkeeping,” simply write, “Managed bookkeeping.”
  • Unprofessional Voicemail: Be prepared for the HR department to contact you. Rather than a casual voicemail greeting or a non-personalized automatic greeting, set up a greeting which states your full name and leaves a professional impression.

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