Career Management

Update Your Resume

This step is about articulating everything you learned in steps 1 and 2 into a brochure – your one page MBA resume. Think of your resume as a brochure about you. Resumes are the first impression for employers. You have to highlight your accomplishments and strengths because the employer wants to hire somebody who can get the job done and do it well. Your resume represents you, so make sure it is something you are proud to showcase to everybody. 

The vast majority of MBA programs use the same standard one page resume format, which MBA recruiters from major corporations tell us they prefer. MBA recruiters want to easily scan your resume to identify your strengths and match them to the positions for which they are recruiting. Most say they won’t read more than one page and value your ability to be focused and concise.

When entering a new profession a resume must be focused on accomplishments in previous roles that can help the recruiter or hiring manager easily identify transferable skills.  This is important whether your prior work experience was paid or unpaid. Keep in mind that accomplishments are vastly different from responsibilities in that role. Responsibilities focus on what you did relative to your job description. Accomplishments, on the other hand, are what set one employee apart from a second with exactly the same job title. 

Accomplishment statements should be one or two lines long and include the following 3 elements: Context, Action, Results.

Example #1: A flight attendant may be RESPONSIBLE for delivering meals and drinks and making sure everyone is safe. However, an ACCOMPLISHMENT for a flight attendant might have been: “Received 15 written compliments from guests on Flight 345 for helping to keep guests calm during a horrendous electrical storm”.

In the example above, “Received 15 written compliments from guests” is the RESULT. The ACTION was “for helping to keep guests calm” and the CONTEXT was “during a horrendous electrical storm”

Example #2: A red cross volunteer may be RESPONSIBLE for making sure a doctor has all the equipment s/he needs to deliver patient care. However, and ACCOMPLISHMENT of that volunteer may have been: “Assembled and delivered 35 surgical trays per day increasing availability of equipment for doctors by 20%”

Career Changers: Think about your past performance reviews. What did you do to add value to the organization last year? Try to think of 2-3 accomplishment statements per year of employment or per position. 

Steps to update your resume:

  1. Add all your work experiences (paid and volunteer) to your resume. Add one sentence outlining the scope of your responsibilities. Then add 2-3 accomplishment statements for each position. If you’re just starting your career, remember to include class projects, sports, volunteer positions on and off campus. You might also want to add a special skill section for computer skills, languages and other items. Click this link to view a sample resume template.
  2. Change every bullet into an accomplishment format. Think PAR Problem (or context), Action, and Result. Always use third person and incomplete sentences. Never use “I” in your resume (see the Willamette Standard Resume Format for examples.) Also see a list of transferable skills for sample action words.
  3. Group your bullets into major headings such as “previous work experience’ or ‘leadership experience’ and ‘education’ and develop names for the headings to best reflect what's in each section. (See Willamette Standard Resume Format and put them into reverse chronological format.)
  4. Delete bullets until you have ONLY ONE PAGE of the most important accomplishments of your life that you want employers to know about you. Save the rest and call it “Extended resume”.
  5. Add your summary of qualifications at the top – 3 things that clearly articulate what’s in your one-page resume. Think: What three things did people identify as your strengths? The first one is typically “MBA Marketing  (an area of interest) Candidate with experience (or skills) in XXXXX”. This section is especially important for students starting their career or changing careers as it allows you to frame the skills you want to use rather than having the reader guess from your previous experience.