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Writing an effective CV for MBA students

First things first

  1. A CV is highly individual; avoid using standard templates –  make it unique! It should reflect your personal brand and focus on the last 10 years.
  2. The standard format in the UK is 2 pages; for the US 1 page. Different countries have different format preferences – you can find out more by going to www.goinglobal.com
  3. Your CV is used to underpin the information you provide in your application and/or cover letter. Customise it for the role you are applying for, e.g. if you wish to work in consultancy, produce a consultancy CV that you can then use for consultancy applications.
  4. Make sure that your layout shows a clear, logical structure. It needs to be easy to read at speed and include a good amount of white space.
  5. Always present your information in reverse chronological order. Begin with your MBA, if you wish to build on this qualification and use it as a stepping stone for your next career move.
  6. Make headings work for you (e.g.  Financial Management Employment; Operational Management Experience; Consultancy Experience, etc.- as appropriate).
  7. To produce an informative, yet concise document it is recommended to use bullet points. Full grammatical sentences are not required. Use the KISS principle: keep it short and simple. Begin your phrases with a brief description of responsibilities and achievements, preferably starting with an action verb (see below).
  8. Quantify your achievements where possible. Be as specific as you can. If you led a team, how large was this team? If you increased the turnover, by what percentage?
  9. Avoid colour, as those who print out your CV are likely to use a cost-saving black and white printer.
  10. General formatting: Use left justification, as this will avoid unsightly gaps (as you are likely to get if you use centered justification). This also ensures that information is taken in better when reading the CV at speed.
  11. Ensure that all dates are consistently displayed in the same area, i.e. all on the left or all on the right (which may be preferable, as it allows you to maximise your space).

Recommended structure

Personal details

  • Consider using your name as heading, large, bold and centred to make it stand out.
  • Provide address and contact details. Sub-headings, such as address, telephone number or email are not needed, as these are self-explanatory.
  • Date of birth and marital status are not needed on a CV for UK applications.

Profile

  • Three or four statements or bullet points highlighting key achievements, skills, experiences that you have to offer a potential employer are sufficient.
  • The last point could include a statement about your career objective, e.g.: Seeking position as …. / in ….. sector.
  • Example:
    – Highly experienced and qualified financial accounts manager in Import-Export business with level 3 IMEX professional qualification
    – Proven team management and effective communication and negotiation skills
    – Achieved targets consistently during past employment; increased Export client accounts by 15%

Education

  • Begin with your MBA, if you wish to use it as a stepping stone for your next career move.
  • Include specifically relevant modules and projects. Provide more detail, if your project is particularly relevant to your application.
  • Briefly include first degree and institution.
  • If you do not wish to use the MBA as a stepping stone, begin with Employment and list your education after your SKILLS AND TRAINING.

Employment History / Employment

  • Use effective headings. If your past employment is highly related to your next choice, then consider more specific headings, i.e. Financial Management Employment, Energy Sector Experience, etc.
  • Include dates (e.g. 6/2009 – 8/2013), Job title, employer name, place and country
  • Use bullet points, followed by action verbs, followed by concise information of responsibilities and achievements. For example: Project-managed product launch for re-branded luxury stationery range within tight time-scale and within budget for marketing activities, such as exhibitions and photo shoots for magazine advertisements.
  • Action verbs: developed, organised, increased, generated, planned, produced, managed , coordinated, supervised, negotiated etc. or responsible for …

Skills and Training / Skills and Professional Development

  • Short section, highlighting specific skills that need to match up with the requirements from the person specification in the job description
  • Include languages and level, e.g. Spanish (native), English (fluent), French (intermediate)
  • Include a reference to your IT skills, as many employers are still asking specifically for IT skills, especially Excel. For example: Competent user of Microsoft Office, especially Excel at advance level.
  • You can include driving licence here, if this is a requirement for the role.
  • Mention any professional training courses you attended, with year in brackets to indicate recency.

Additional Information

  • This section enables you to mention anything else that is relevant to your skills development, such as volunteering activities, community engagement and any roles of responsibility you held in the last ten years.
  • You could include travel as evidence for cultural awareness, for example (but do state specifics, e.g. countries or continents you have visited).
  • Include any professional memberships (e.g. Chartered Management Institute).

An Example (for guidance only)

Click here for handout: MBA – Kent Business School CV guidance