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Putting together an MBA Class CV book

It is that time of year when we are putting the final touches to the class CV book which will go to our corporate partners. Each student has 1 page with which to present their key strengths, experience and career aims. This is a tricky task since a) it is still very early in your MBA to give your CV a distinct direction b) you won’t know exactly which people and which companies will be looking at your CV and what they are looking for.

You will probably have heard multiple times that recruiters in an initial screening spend an average time of less than 10 seconds per CV so it is important that you get it right. Here are a few pointers on how to write a ‘open’ targeted CV:

- Targeting
If you want to give your CV a specific direction, look at key words and skills used in job adverts that you want to apply for.

- Length
Less is more – for a CV book where you are competing with lots of classmates keep it well spaced and not crammed. For a “proper” follow-up application, use a 2 page CV with more detail on employment experience and more space to expand on your responsibilities and achievements.

- Structure
Start with a profile and key skills – those two paragraphs capture your experience with a focus on what you want to do after your MBA and your key professional skills. Again – if you know where you want to go make sure there is significant overlap on what you bring to the table and what your future role requires/desires.
This section is where students struggle the most and so we put on workshops, Peer-to-Peer coaching and feedback rounds to help students formulate these sections.

Next for the education section – but don’t go back further than undergraduate qualifications. Keep it short and succinct and don’t waste valuable space here.

Moving swiftly on to the Professional Experience – this is where the “tyre hits the road”. Work backwards from the most recent job. Do not just rattle down your job descriptions from previous jobs, but use it as your space to shine. Focus on your responsibilities and achievements. Quantify your achievements and refer to the impact and results that your job had. Again –once you know your career target a bit better you can highlight the achievements that matter in the role you want to apply for. Use active voice and action words (“managed…developed…led…etc.)

If you have any Professional Certificates (PMI, Prince2, CFA, etc.) put them in a Certificates and Awards section. You can also include membership of professional organisations, scholarships or awards here.

The last section is for Extracurricular Activities. Include activities like volunteering, fundraising, sports and coaching, clubs you are/were a member of etc. but try to keep it quite recent!

In our templates we put personal information down the side of the CV including DoB, nationality and contact details. You can also include interests – so be prepared that once it comes to the interview stage it is not unusual for interviewers to pick up on these as a way to break the ice. So if you put literature down – be able to talk about a book you read recently…

You also need to include language skills and proficiency level (native, fluent, intermediate, basic) – a key component in many job markets.

And lastly, you have a photo. This is particularly important in the German and Swiss recruitment markets. At the MBA we commission professional portraits. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and use make up and jewellery conservatively!

Good luck