B7. What elevates a resume to the top of the pile?

Concise language and clear formatting is the number one factor for MBA resumes. You have 20-30 seconds to make an impression, and the overall visual impression is the first and strongest. Start with an action verb. Leave plenty of white space. Make the formatting utterly consistent (e.g., fonts, punctuation).

That language needs to be tailored for the audience - MBA admissions.

Many MBAs also believed in the need to stand out: differentiated from your competition, associated with large brand names, impressive accomplishments, use of numbers, and a clear story of self.

Starting with an action verb was only mentioned a few times, but it's largely assumed that every bullet should start with one.

After that, it gets more murky - there is a wide variety of answers. A truly terrific resume may need to address most of these qualities.

Coherent structure, consistent formatting; White space; Concise language

Ben Cohen-Leadholm

A "user-friendly" form is just as important as the content

Christina Claudio

Am I even going to bother reading it if there's no white space? No.

Sheila Krishnan

Something that's very easy to follow, with logical flow

Will Conkling

Have to win them over in the first 20 seconds

Starts with an action verb

Wade Barnes

Will skip a line that starts with an adjective or noun

Kahn Jekarl

Concise language, clear formatting, starts with an action verb, uses PAR format (Problem, Action, Result)

Clear story of self; Differentiated from competition

Benjamin Olds

Have things on your resume that make you a human being

Eric Dittmar

Being too generic will get you shot down in a heartbeat; understand the school

Roy Johanson

Have looked at thousands of resumes; want someone who's differentiated

John Wilson

It's about the extra little magic in your resume; the little things, the distinctions

David Sauvage

The whole point is to impress people; show it to people who are like the ones you want to impress; are they impressed?

General advice

Wendy Lu

They only want to know what you've done that's relevant to what they're looking for

Alex Slawsby

Looking for real people who have passions

Jay Palace

It's about the way they describe what they've done; get me to stop scanning and start reading with a good hook

Murali Krishnan

Quantification: how much money they saved, how many people they managed