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MBA Career Services Center

Resume Tutorial

  • This power point presentation will:
  • Define a MBA-competitive resume
  • Describe good formatting
  • Describe good content
  • Provide additional resources
  • Answer Frequently Asked Questions (this section will outline WHY and the rationalization for our recommendations)
  • Updated Summer 2008
purpose of a resume
Purpose of a Resume

Your resume is…

a critical step at the beginning of a job search process

an advertisement/marketing tool

a written pitch

a screening tool

an assessment of your value

a document that leads to an interview (not a job, yet!)

a first impression

a stand alone document

good resume formatting
  • One full page (unless more than 10 years of work experience)
  • Sections, in this order (heading names may vary):

Name and Contact Information (top)

1. Education

2. Experience

3. Activities

  • Easily scanned for skills, results, job titles and company names in 30 seconds.
  • Organized in reverse chronological order (most recent experiences on top)
  • Bullet points, not paragraphs
  • Appropriate amount of white space Vs. text
  • No graphics
  • Standard fonts
good resume content
Good Resume CONTENT
  • Current and previous job responsibilities represent your skills and results (in addition to general duties and responsibilities).
  • Shows the impact your performance has/had on the department, project, organization or company.
  • Quantify information/results, where possible. For example, “Achieved 80% reduction of lost-time accidents, saving company $1.2 million….”
  • Prioritize bullet points beginning with the most relevant or most impactful on the top.
  • Use action verbs descriptive of your skills to start each bullet point
  • Show promotion or advancement (via titles, dates)
  • No outdated or irrelevant activities—unless it is a significant accomplishment, skills or unusual talking point.
helpful resources
Helpful Resources
  • List of action verbs:
  • Your functional portfolio with keywords (and sample resumes):
  • MS Office templates:
  • Resume Writing Worksheet:
faq s format related questions
FAQ’s: FORMAT-related questions

Why should my resume be only one page?

It is a highlight of your unique differentiators and does not list everything. In a tough job market when recruiters get 100’s of resumes, a 2 or larger-page resume might not be viewed. Exception: Candidates with more than 10 years of experience.

What are standard fonts and sizes?

Times New Roman, Verdana, Ariel and between 10 – 14 points

Why is the section on education at the top of the resume?

You are currently a student, so chronologically this fits at the top.

What is the proper way to list the MSU MBA degree?

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management

Master of Business Administration, Finance, May, 2007


The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Master of Business Administration, Finance, May, 2007


The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

MBA, Finance, May, 2007

Why use bullet points and not paragraph formatting?

It is easier to read and is more succinct.

faq s continued format related questions
FAQ’s continued: FORMAT-related questions

What are some examples of succinct bullet points?

Example A

“Provided direction for the Strategies for Advancing the Internationalization of Learning Program, (SAIL), a U.S. Department of Education grant-funded program which enhanced cultural sensitivity within all areas of the university and surrounding community; assisted with monitoring budget expenditures.”


“Directed a U.S. Department of Education funded program designed to enhance cultural sensitivity within the university and community.’

Example B

“Developed very strong presentation skills developing and implementing inter-cultural communication workshops for faculty and staff.”


“Developed and implemented inter-cultural communication workshops for private industry and university staff.”

Why shouldn’t I use shading and boxes on my resume?

Boxes may be interpreted as graphic objects and not be converted by different systems. Shading will eventually obscure the text as the resume is photocopied and faxed from office to office within a company. Additionally, you don’t want the reader caught up in graphics.

Most of all of my work experience and/or education has been outside the U.S., but I am a U.S. citizen or have a green card. I’m afraid that a potential employer might think I don’t have automatic work authorization. Do I list it and where?

YES, place the information at the top of your resume under your name or near your contact information.

faq s continued format related questions8
FAQ’s continued: FORMAT-related questions:

How much white space is appropriate on my resume?

The content of the resume is the real focus for the recruiter. Keeping the resume visually pleasing is important, but there are other ways than white space to achieve a pleasing look.

Why should I not use tabs or spaces to line everything up?

Various systems where you will upload your resume will interpret those differently. Use the ruler bar or tables to line things up. Tabs and spaces make your resume initially look like everything is linked up, but when sent electronically or when printed on a variety of printers, the alignment is lost.

What is the proper way to abbreviate months?

January = Jan. July = July (not Jul.)

February = Feb. August = Aug.

March = Mar. September = Sept. (not Sep.)

April = Apr. October = Oct.

May = May November = Nov.

June = June (not Jun.) December = Dec.

Where do I put my current Graduate Assistantship and how?

If your GA assignment gives you relevant work experience in your desired field, it may be a good addition under your professional work experience section. If your GA assignment does not offer relevant work experience in your desired field, it may fit better under your educational section, since it is part of your MBA degree program. Listing it would typically not take up much space– a line or two.

faq s content related questions
FAQ’s: CONTENT-related questions

Why can’t I put the word “RESUME” at the very top?

Put your full name in larger size instead. It identifies the document as being about YOU. Save the document with your name in the filename.

You should only use your msu email address. Why?

Many yahoo or hotmail email accounts go to recruiters SPAM accounts. You will be working with MBA CSC and campus recruiters so there is an automatic affiliation with the campus.

Why can’t I use an objective statement or summary of qualifications at the top of my resume?

Your resume IS your summary of qualifications and your career objective (a reader may not read down any farther). Also, your cover letter which often accompanies your resume will communicate your summary of qualifications for the specific job, as well as your objective.

When should I include or not include past or current GPA’s?

Always include your GPA from the MBA degree when it is over a 3.0. Only include average or major GPA’s from undergraduate or other graduate degrees if they are over at least a 3.3.

I have academic grades reflecting a scale other than 4.0. Do I need to convert?

Yes, especially if you have degrees from outside the U.S. and plan to work in the U.S., where most educational systems use a 4.0 scale.

faq s continued content related questions
FAQ’s continued: CONTENT-related questions

Why is a skilled or functional-based resume not recommended?

Recruiters are clear that they want to see where you worked and when in a reverse chronological order. A resume that is organized by skills or function make it harder for recruiters to find what they are looking for. Sometimes you might be encouraged to do a functional resume if you are making a drastic career change, but it is rare.

Do I need to include months with the years of each employment experience?

YES! Especially if you worked somewhere for less than a year. And, 12 months is much different than 20 months. Additionally, recruiters are likely to assume you are hiding something (i.e., gaps in employment)

I know that it is important to be consistent with grammar and punctuation. What are examples of ways I can do this?

ending all bullet points with a period (sentence) OR NOT

either writing out one, two, three or 1,2, 3

using “and” OR “&”

use past tense verbs when you have stopped working for an employer

How do I list multiple positions with one employer?

It depends…if the accomplishments and responsibilities varied greatly, if you want to show promotion quickly, or if you want to be accurate in your representation with the organization. Sometimes bullet points under each position work well, other times, listing all positions one after each other at the top of the section work well.

Is there a difference between listing “Broad Scholar” and “Broad Scholarship Recipient”?

If you are a “Broad Scholar” you are receiving almost a full-ride scholarship and were selected based on your leadership potential and academic and work success. A “Broad Scholarship Recipient” received some level of financial aid, often in the form of a Graduate Assistantship. You’ll want to describe these briefly on your resume, as someone from outside MSU will not know this information.

faq s continued content related questions11
FAQ’s continued: CONTENT-related questions

Should I list military or missions experience?

Most likely you should if you need to show skills representing leadership, global exposure, or languages other than English. Typically, recruiters like to see these types of experiences, if it fits well with where you are trying to go

Which activities are considered out-of-date?

Anything that is not relevant to what you want to do, or anything that is over 8 years ago. Often, most extra-curricular activities from undergraduate studies are not as relevant at this point in your career. You do not need to list undergraduate internships or part-time jobs while in school, unless they contribute something to your resume that other experiences do not.

Why is it recommended that technical skills not be listed at the bottom of the resume?

Readers want to see HOW you used the technical programs—the impact they had and how they helped you accomplish your responsibilities. So, note them within the bullet points of your experiences.

How do I list language proficiency?

Use the terms--Native, Fluent, Conversant or Basic, based on the level you think you are. Clarifying written, spoken or both.

How often should I update my resume?

As often is necessary, such as: GA assignment details, placement at case competition, drop bullet points on former jobs that are not relevant, student organization involvement/leadership, GPA at end of fall semester

faq s continued content related questions12
FAQ’s continued: CONTENT-related questions


Resumes are not written in first-person or the subjective voice. How do I write in the third-person or objective voice?

Avoid sentences that have the pronoun’s “I” or “we” (i.e., “Our team took first-place in the competition.” Vs. “Team placed first in the competition.”

Avoid items on your resume like:

Date of Birth

Person Photos

Place of Birth

Current Age

Nationality or Country of Origin

Marital Status

Visa Status


TOEFEL score

individual company salaries or any salary history

passport #, I-20 #

“Reason for leaving the job…”

Permanent address (parent’s, family overseas, etc.)


high school education information or equivalent

How do I put academic honors or scholarships in context?

You want to state how/why you received the award (for academic success, or for outstanding leadership ability) and if there was an amount of money awarded, what percentage of it covered your education?