Congratulations on finishing your MBA! You spent a lot of time and work to achieve this result. Now, you need to take that next step in your career that puts the degree to work for you for the long term. A strong resume is a key to standing out in the current talent market. Here is what you need to know to build a resume that will make that career change possible.
Why it Matters
An MBA is an investment. A top-rated MBA program can cost well over $100k. You may not have spent that much, but you did spend a lot of time and money to complete your degree. And, probably with good reason - personally and professionally. The return on investment for an MBA is higher than any other degree. But, only if you make a career move quickly and strategically to put that degree to work for you.
The longer you wait to put that degree to work to make your career move, the harder it will be. You may love your current job and may not have obtained your MBA with the intent of making a career change. But, in the current post-Great Resignation environment, most people are finding that the only way to make more money is to move to a new role. This could be up in your current organization, to a new division, or to a new company. Your message as a new MBA grad is much stronger now than it will be in 12 months. So, make sure that you put that degree to work right now.
Keep in mind that you don't have to have the perfect job post-MBA. But, you shouldn't run away from anything either. And, money should not be your only motivator at this point in your career. Instead, think about your long-term career path and look for jobs that create steps in that direction. Knowing that is key to ensuring that your resume properly reflects your capabilities. And, that strong resume is essential to achieving that first step towards your new career path as an MBA grad.
Define Your Value
Career services can give you a lot of great information while in your MBA program. They will have templates to use and lots of information for free that will guide you through your job search post-graduation. But, that same advice is being given to every other member of your MBA program. So, if you want to stand out, you need to have a clear message to build a resume that reflects your value proposition. This clarity and departure from the standard will be exactly what you need to build a resume that makes the most of your MBA.
To define your value as a leader and new MBA grad, think about your skills, strengths and experiences. Define the themes that you will convey to every person that you meet in your job search and professional networking. Include details about what you did prior to the MBA, why you completed the degree, and what you want to do with it. This foundational work will go a long way to helping you to prepare for your job search and career to come.
Create a Strong Headline
Once you define your value, you are able to create a stronger headline to your resume that gets people's attention. The headline should be formatted as a statement, not a job title. For example, "Strategic Leader with Proven Results in Business Transformation" instead of "Business Analyst." The goal is to focus on what you can do for the company, not your past job titles and duties.
This can also be a great way to incorporate keywords into your resume. These keywords need to align with your message and the phrases that HR professionals (and their systems) will look for. You could take the strategy of incorporating a few keywords into your MBA grad resume headline or you could use only keywords in that headline to make it easier for the skimmer of your resume. Either way works, as long as you stay on brand.
Connect Your Achievements with Your Value
The part that most people underestimate on their resume is their achievement bullets. For most employers, this is their area of focus when evaluating candidates and they will not consider anyone without this information. This can mean including stats and figures, but it can also be about the work you do that is relevant to your overall value proposition which enabled the organization to achieve its goals.
To effectively incorporate your achievements on your MBA resume, make sure that you are including numbers (of some kind whenever possible), the skills you used to obtain those results, and the impact/benefit to the business as a result of your efforts. To build an effective achievement statement on your resume, consider the following:
Who. Were you the leader or did you help the leader? How many people were involved? What types of jobs did they have? Were they internal, external, or both?
What. Think about the details of what tools, techniques, systems, and programs/products were used. Include these details to give key information to the person/system scanning the resume to understand how your work fits their needs.
How. Explain your role in the result and connect your skills to the open job whenever possible.
Why. This is key. Make sure to include information about the benefit to the organization that you were working for, your clients, or the industry.
Use the Right Keywords
Keywords on your resume play a bigger role than most people realize. Over 97% of all Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system. And, over 60% of all other employers are using these ATS as well. These systems are all driven by keywords and job titles. And, as a result, nearly 70% of all resumes are rejected by the ATS.
If you get through the resume bots, you will have an average of 6 seconds before the recruiter skimming your resume makes their mind up about you as a candidate. They may keep reading, but only to confirm the opinion they already made up. These stats are staggering for most applicants and are repeatedly confirmed by studies. So, the key to building an effective resume that helps you land that first job after your MBA, requires a strong keyword strategy.
You can do this by including a cross-section of soft, substantive, and specialty skills. You can also incorporate industry details, client types, product information, and any other phrases that will help to illustrate your message. Remember, that the resume is a marketing piece that gets you an interview. So, you will need to craft that unique message to your audience to showcase your skills and education.
Lean on Your Education
Everyone has weaknesses and gaps in skills or experiences. This is where the MBA can help you to overcome those challenges. Make sure to include details about the courses you took and any other practical experiences that you gained in the MBA on your resume. It's ok that these weren't gained in a professional environment at this point.
The key to building your resume is to include everything that you have that is relevant to the careers that you want. Including these details on your resume, the right way will enable the ATS to see you as qualified. And, the people skimming your resume will understand that you gained these skills in the MBA. Depending on the needs of the company for this position, that may be enough. So, make sure to include the talking points on your resume so that you can use them as a springboard in the interview.
This also means that you need to pivot your language to be forward-thinking. Use the MBA as a pivot point in your career and reframe all of your experience with the future in mind. This means stripping out the details and jargon of your past. This will enable you to get through the ATS so you can make the most of your MBA in your current job search.
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