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Writing CVs for MBA Applications: Dos and Don`ts

If you decide to apply for an MBA at a top-tier school, you should be prepared to compete with a great amount of similarly high-achieving CVs. Titles, positions, education, achievements, and even hobbies sections are fairly standard. Thus, you need to make an effort to ensure that your CV is worth attention among the countless other lookalikes, especially if you are experienced in finance, consulting, or tech. Besides, a CV for an MBA application is a whole different ball game than one for a potential employer.

Here are some hints that should help you create a CV that stands out.

DOS: the CV for MBA Tips

1. Use your chance to make a great first impression. The two-inch visual space at the top of your CV is your “primetime” space. Use it to promote yourself. Write a short but powerful summary statement highlighting your worthiest achievements.

2. Describe what you did better than everyone else when filling in the details for each position. The standard list of job description points is not a secret to the admissions committee; they are very familiar with it, and several other applicants probably held similar roles. Don’t just tell them what you did; save that space to tell them what you excelled at.

3. Display your value to the employer. Tell them about results and show examples. Specify the achievements that won you your promotion.

4. Make your accomplishments quantitative. Show the number of customers you landed, the percentage of income increase, the amount of risk eliminated, etc.

5. Highlight (perhaps in bullet points) the key differences between your application and others’. This could be international experience, leading people, volunteer projects, academic honors, or awards.

6. Showcase a hobby as an achievement. Quantify your success in the same manner as you did for your professional performance. Do the same for the volunteer experience you present.

7. Provide only work-related personal data. ‘CV’ is not a synonym for ‘biography’!

8. Use active (rather than passive) verbs and synonyms to avoid excessive repetition.


DON’TS: the CV for MBA Pitfalls


1. Don’t try to get the committee’s attention by focusing on format instead of substance. Eschew weird colours, fun fonts, and other design tricks.

2. Don’t jeopardize the reader’s confidence or trust by using manipulated (e.g. averaged or approximated) numbers and figures. Present exact data if it is publicly available or allowed by an employer. If it is not, skip such data presentation at all.

3. Don’t forget about the rules of grammar. Feel free to ask someone who’s more experienced to check your writing and provide some advice.

4. Don’t gloss over your main achievements for the sake of modesty by using vague explanations or skipping them entirely.

5. Don’t use pronouns or articles excessively. These act as dust particles in the air masking important parts of your accomplishments, slowing down reading and unnecessarily taking up precious space.

6. Don’t make your CV a simple list of your job duties. It would be much better if you made it a list of your accomplishments.

7. Don’t overexploit professional lexicon. Use general terms. The language of your resume should be as simple as possible.


Here are some examples of what MBA Strategy consultants have done to make winning CVs for top business school applications:



Undistinguished Winning


Investment Department Analyst at BASIC ELEMENT (I evaluated companies and investment projects and developed methodology of alternative valuation approaches, WACC Calculation and macro-forecasting)

Consultant, Risk Advisory Services at KPMG (I Supported telecom and retail companies in developing internal control systems and tested Fixed Assets, Payroll, Purchasing and Payable cycles. Improved design of the mentioned systems)

BASIC ELEMENT, Moscow, Russia   

Investment Department
              From - To

  • Evaluated over 20 companies and investment projects.

  • Developed methodology for alternative valuation approaches, WACC calculation, and macro-forecasting.

KPMG, Moscow, Russia

Consultant, Risk Advisory Services   From - To

  • upported 3 telecom and 12 retail companies in developing internal control systems.
  • ested Fixed Assets, Payroll, Purchasing, and Payable cycles. Improved design of the aforementioned systems.

Content of bullet points

Participated in closing a USD$30mln real estate deal

Participated in closing costs negotiation, completed the home inspections, and prepared interest rate analysis in a 30 million USD real estate deal

Organized corporate teambuilding events

Initiated and managed 5 corporate teambuilding events. Nearly 50 people were involved in each case.

Led a team of experts, executed IR and PR campaigns in the interest of Media

Led a team of 35 experts (including heads of IR, PR, social networking, and creative editorial departments), executed 6 IR and PR campaigns for Media. The campaigns were highly praised by equity sales side analysts, resulting in a 6.2% increase of the company’s share liquidity on NASDAQ .

Responsible for charity projects in Asia and Africa to help the local communities.

Initiated and spearheaded more than 15 broad-scale charity projects in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Russia with a total contribution of more than USD 1 million to help local communities.

Analyzed the company’s costs distribution

Successfully completed analysis of the company’s costs distribution in the SAP system, which consequently allowed the company to optimize the number of accounts, eradicating unnecessary ones.


Keep in mind that your CV functions as your second face. Be sincere. Do not make the admissions committee observe clumsy attempts to cover up a missing eye with makeup.



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Author: Victoria Dudka, MBA Strategy Consultants Team Lead

MBA Admissions Consulting Services


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