3 Ways to Standout on Your MBA Application
Choosing an MBA program can be a formidable task, considering the plethora of colleges and universities that offer programs. Make a list of your top programs, and pay special attention to all the required materials. Some programs require you to take the GMAT or GRE, so decide to take either of those tests if your school requires it for admission. If there is an application fee, set aside the amount required and make sure that you save it until it comes time to pay. And when it comes time to apply, don’t let the application trip you up – here are three tips to stand out on your MBA application.
1. Re-vamp your resume.
Most MBA programs will require you to submit an updated resume and perhaps even a cover letter. Make sure that your job history is up to date. Think about how you can make your resume stand out amongst the crowd – can you re-write anything to make it sound more relevant? List all the tasks and responsibilities that you had in a way that makes them sound meaningful. Yes, you may have made copies, but you were compiling executive briefs for C-Suite level personnel. Simply editing your resume to make your job history stronger is one MBA application tip that can help you stand out. Be sure to include any prior college, degrees, or certificates received.
Additionally, consider the design of your resume – is it visually engaging or interesting in any way? While resumes are primarily functional, they can also be aesthetically pleasing. Use design elements and color carefully – you don’t want your resume to look unprofessional. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to make a standout resume. Check out free, online programs like Canva or google search “free resume templates.” There are lots of options out there to easily customize your resume to create a visual representation of yourself.
2. Pay close attention to correspondence from the admissions department.
One of the simplest ways to demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail in the onset is to make sure you thoroughly read every piece of correspondence from the admissions department. In a world of spam emails and telemarketers, it can be easy to breeze past important information if you aren’t paying attention.
Oftentimes, admissions representatives share invaluable details about application materials, deadlines, and financial aid - so make sure you’re timely and responsive in order to make the best first impression. Take an active role in your interactions with the people who are ultimately processing your application for admission.
3. Ask for letters of reference early.
As you’re choosing between MBA programs and beginning the application process, request your letters of reference early. Think about the people that will be able to positively represent your character, work ethic, skills, and abilities. Will they be able to speak to specific experiences in which you stood out to them, or will they only be able to offer generic platitudes? Most programs require letters of reference, but the types vary. Some may require professional references, and some a mix of personal, professional, and even academic. If you’ve been working for a while, make a list of supervisors, colleagues, or mentors that you can reach out to.
If you’re fresh out of college and don’t have much work experience, include professors, mentors, or internship supervisors. Most importantly, let the individual know what school’s program you’re applying to, and why you want to pursue it. This way they can include specific references to the school that you’re applying to, which will make your references stand out and not seem like a generic letter. You probably won’t see these letters, as many colleges and universities require them to be sent directly to the school. Make sure your request contains plenty of information about your goals and interest in the program. Be sure to include the deadline, so your letter makes it on time to complete your application.
In many ways, applying to MBA programs is a professional exercise designed to gauge your interest among a crowd of other prospective students with similar goals. These three MBA application tips are designed to put you ahead of the crowd – after all, your resume, responsiveness, and references are the most customizable pieces of your application. Why would you not want to provide materials that are most representative of who you are as a professional and as an individual?