How to Build a MBA Resume that Stands Out From The Rest of Your Demographic

Bob's a really strong candidate for Berkeley Haas, but can we help distinguish him from the crowd and highlight his strengths in a proper MBA resume?

It's Bob week! That means a new video EVERY WEEK DAY where Angela Guido coaches one of our lovely subscribers (who are all called Bob, weird!) on how they can get into business school.

We've given a lot of advice over the years, but how do you apply it to your MBA application? That's what our #mbabob series is all about!

Give it up for Bob!

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Hello everybody! Hello and welcome back to the Bob Project. You have landed on MBA Monday on the Career Protocol YouTube channel and on a Bob Project video. What is the Bob Project, you may ask? Well, we are working with our subscribers to help them apply to business school and put their best foot forward, despite whatever weaknesses or uncertainties they may have about their profile. If you want to be featured on the Bob project, you can apply anytime at We'll be doing a handful of these throughout the year so I look forward to getting to know you and talking about you. And don't forget to subscribe before you submit that because we love our subscribers. We also have great stuff here every Monday about MBAs and careers and all of that stuff. So, hope you will hang out with us on this channel and soak up all the good vibes and all the information we have to share. Without further ado, we have with us today, Bob. Say hello, Bob. Let us know a little bit about you.

Bob: Well, hi, I'm Bob. My profile, I guess, is that I was born and raised in California. I went to school in California. I have my job in California. I'm currently remote, so I've been moving around but I really want to go back. So my top school is Berkeley, and I want to be in that area. It also reflects just my work history. I've stayed at the same place for almost six years now. I've grinded from a junior video editor, and now I manage the entire media team. I've really gone through it a little bit. Our company has a real startup vibe and through COVID, we really grew. We ballooned to maybe twice our size, and we had two riffs in the last two years, or two rounds of layoffs. Through that and through managing a big team, I really got passionate about how we could do better. I know I can't do better without more knowledge and without a better understanding of how business works, how I can make sure my team is not only satisfied with the job and excited and passionate about what they're doing, but also taken care of. So that's really my big push of going for my MBA: learning to understand how I can better suit my team, my department, take care of the people that I care about, and take care of the people that I spend eight hours a day with. And yeah, that's pretty much me in a nutshell. That's Bob.

Angela: Amazing. I love it. So usually when I put together the information for this conversation… I'm just looking at your statistics and I'm packaging them, but I was so inspired by the mission statement that you submitted in your form that I wanted to share it. I wanted to make sure that everybody could actually just read this whole thing because what you're demonstrating here is really the core values that all MBA programs are looking for. This is why they don't admit people out of college.

This is why you can't go to Harvard if you just graduated. If you're going to apply to Harvard at graduation, you're not going to start your MBA for two or three or four years because they need you to go out into the real world and discover the things that you think suck so that then you have material to build your future off of. And it's not just looking at what sucks, it's both. You look at what do you love? What do you love to do? What are you interested in? What are the spaces that appeal to you? And then also, what do you want to fix? What do you want to improve? How do you want to make this world a better place? And you've got just this fantastic statement of like “Yeah, I had to lay off people and man, just didn't think that was cool so I really want to move forward as the leader who can handle things so that that can be minimized, so that it doesn't have to happen. So that more people can find and earn their livelihood.”. It was so beautifully written also, so that's why I just wanted to share it. So awesome start there. Then here’s Bob statistics.

UC Santa Cruz focusing in film and digital media back in 2017. Strong GPA, 3.4, so you're on the table with that. You're not above the average but you're also not too far below the average. So you got the table stakes GPA there. And like you said, you've been in media management. You've really worked your way up within an organization, which is great. It's a great foundation. And then you haven't done the test yet. So that's something we'll chat about today. Our goal is to get Bob into a top-15 program. You're aiming for at a few different schools, but it sounds like Berkeley is your number 1 choice because you want to get back to California and Berkeley is just an amazing school. Anything you want to say about why Berkeley is your number 1?

Bob: Yeah. To be honest, it really has to do with, I guess, my mission statement in that that Berkeley is very centered around, at least their program is very centered around culture and company culture and just culture on campus. I also know just having applied for jobs and looked around in the Bay Area that there's a lot of companies that have different business models and are open to different ways of starting companies and building companies into the future. I've seen a lot of flat business models, instead of having a hierarchy. It's like everyone's on the same page, everyone receives the same pay. A lot of co-ops and stuff like that in Berkeley. So I just think it's the hub for the things that I'm wanting to learn and explore. So it really just matches how I'm feeling and wanting to pursue things, and that's what's really important for them. So it just matches. I have a list of other schools, but really it's Berkeley or bust in a little bit of a way.

Angela: Yeah, it's great. It's funny, Berkeley is one of those schools that people go crazy for, more so than they should given its position in the rankings, etc. It's the only school — other than Stanford — where I've had clients turn down Harvard to go to Berkeley. I've never seen that for Walton, I've never seen it for Booth, I've never seen it for Columbia. But Berkeley is the school where people say “Forget you, Harvard. I'm going to Berkeley.”. It's understandable. It's understandable that Berkeley would be your top choice and I think you've already really moved your candidacy pretty far down the line by understanding the nuances of what makes the culture different, what makes the curriculum different, what makes the whole thing just really an ideal match for you because, as you all know, the further down you go in the rankings — or maybe you don't know this, this is something maybe I haven't ever said — the further you go down in the rankings, the more the fit has to be really ideal and really mutual. It's like if Berkeley looks at a super strong candidate, but that person doesn't look like they belong at Berkeley, they're not going to let you in. It doesn't matter how strong you are. They need to see that fit being mutual. That's true across the board, but it gets more and more nuanced the further down you go in the rankings. Most people are going to be able to show fit with Wharton, not true with Berkeley. There's nuance to it. So you've already done a lot of that work, so that's amazing. So let's talk about that test score. So what's happening there?

Bob: Yeah. So I mean, I have watched the other Bobs and your advice to them was if you're not hitting that average, maybe switch from the GMAT to the GRE and I did want to ask a little bit of a clarifying question around that. I know Berkeley's average is 727 for their GMAT score, and I know I probably will be coming in slightly below that or around that, but from your previous videos, I've heard you say, if you're in the average student section, then you're going to want to shoot for a higher GMAT. So I don't know that I'm going to be able to get too much higher than the average.

Angela: The thing is, you're not going to win the day based on your test score. So having an average score is probably good enough because if your scores are around a 730, 720, you're right around their average. So if they admit you, it's a wash. It's not hurting them. It's not really helping them. It's helping them a little because they will admit people down lower. It's helping them a little, but it's not hurting them, that's the most important thing. So then they can just be like, All right, well, fine. That's fine. Let's focus on the rest of Bob's candidacy. And then they're going to dig into your essays and your interviews. Now, they're going to look at all that stuff. They're not going to throw away your application just because you have a low test score. They're still going to give you a really earnest look, no matter how weak your statistics are, but when your statistics are like yeah, right around the average, now let's focus on this stuff that we really care about. That's how that works, but where it comes back around is at the end. So let's say they've interviewed you, the interview went well. They're like “Okay, Bob's definitely a Berkeley guy. Everything's looking good here. Now we got to shape the class. Now we got to make sure we're getting all the different kinds of people we need. We've got people from different industries, people from different racial backgrounds, people from different geographies, ages, etc.”. Now they're going to come back and they're going to play this giant game of Tetris and fit all the different people that they like into the pool and make sure that that pool is sufficiently diverse. So that's where the test score comes back around and they're going to look at you and they're going to say “Okay, he's a guy.”, so already you're in the majority, not the minority there. And then do you have any ethno-racial? What's your background?

Bob: Not enough. So I'm Iranian, but I think on a lot of things when you select in Middle Eastern it becomes white.

Angela: You're white. Yeah, you're white. For the box, you're going to check you’re “Caucasian” or “Prefer not to say” but you're not getting any points on that for diversity. You're just like mainstream American guy, which is, by the way, the majority of MBA students. So there will be a lot of people like you in the class. But the question is then, how are you going to stack up against that pile? And so if your application just completely blows their mind, then the test score, as long as it's average, probably won't matter. You'll actually stand out against that pool anyway. And then there's just some chance… Let me see if I can show you here. I'm going to show you with like, these are like fire crackers. Let's imagine that these boxes of fire crackers constitute the entire class and the entire applicant pool that's like you. So it's like they can accept this many, the top this many white American guys and all the rest of these white American guys aren't going to get in. Are you going to be up here or are you going to be down here? And the test score could play a role here. They could be like “Mmm, 740 and above.”, unless really exceptional. So it's a little bit of that that's going to happen and so that's why you need to have as good of a test score as you can have. And then in that context, having a GRE, I don't think it will actually matter either way. The reason I harp on the GRE is because if you're going to be lower than the average, you will hurt their rankings less with a GRE, which makes it easier for them to say yes to you if they love your profile and just the test score is weak.

Bob: Yeah. Well, I actually use the Career Protocol GRE to GMAT Converter, and their average GRE comes out to be 680 GMAT, which I know I'm hoping but I have a good feeling that I'll get above. So I would be coming in above average on the GRE. So does that matter as much?

Angela: Unfortunately, I don't think that calculus works quite that way because they don't care that much about their average GRE. That's why the average GRE is lower because they don't care that much about it. So I think if you're going to do 730 or higher, stick with the GMAT and it sounds like you're around there. That will actually help you more than if you have a super high GRE. It'll help you more to have a super high GMAT than a super high GRE.

Bob: Gotcha.

Angela: So test score game theory. And I think if you're able to submit a 720 or 730, I think you're going to be fine. Then I think with the rest of the application really coming together to showcase this great social consciousness, this drive, this persistence… What I think they're going to love about you is that you took a crap job out of college, but now you're running the house. They're going to love that because it shows determination, grit. I don't want to glamorize grit, I have a whole video that I need to do about that. I haven't done it yet. It's not that grit is a value in and of itself, it's that the people who are persistent, they have a reason. There's something they care about. There's something that really matters to them and we started this conversation by showing that, and it was your mission statement. It's like, I just want to be an ethical and good leader. I just want to grow up in a place where I can shepherd and steward my people towards great outcomes. That's a mission. And so the grit doesn't matter but when you have a mission like that, you naturally are persistent. You naturally push yourself and weather challenges and you've really shown that in your career because you started in one place and you just like got promotion, promotion, promotion. You just worked your way all the way up. So that they're going to really love. They're also going to really love — I don't want to get too much into the company that you work for, but you work for a very Berkeley company, my friend. It's very much aligned with their… values is not the right word, but culture. So I think they're going to also appreciate that more than any other school will. And then what else can I say here? You transferred to UC Santa Cruz from a community college, from a junior college. So they also love that because the California system is set up for that. I mean, the whole system is set up for that. But it's always great when they see a person who's like, it wasn't given to them. Maybe they didn't get into the right place the first time, or maybe they just wanted to start by laying a good foundation before they traded up. Either way, it shows a high degree of maturity and drive at a time when most of us are still picking our noses. You know, 18 or 19, most people are still like “Who am I? Where am I? What is this planet Earth that I find myself on?”. But you're working your way through an associate's degree so that you can go to a great school and schools love that. Any time we've worked with people who did that, and it's quite common these days, they tend to be really successful because you've already demonstrated it. It's like when they're looking at your profile, they're not going to have a single concern about whether you're going to graduate, whether you're going to get value from the program, whether you're going to be a contributing member of the community. That's written already all over your academic transcript, not even your resume per se. That's in your transcript. It's clear that you're going to survive and you're going to do well and you're going to contribute. So that's great. I think the other thing that we could do is take a peek at your resume. So let's take a look here.

So you have what everybody has when they start this journey, which is an industry resume and not an MBA resume. No harm, no foul but your goal in this process is to really upgrade your resume. For you, this is going to be especially important because I talked through all the ways in which you're showing character and drive and values, but what you're also bringing to the table that most MBA applicants aren't is that you've actually managed teams and people. That's actually the minority of MBA applicants have had real managerial experience, and so for you to be able to capitalize on that as the value add that it is to the class — especially if you're talking about going to a school where the culture is all about org design and building cultures and leading teams constructively — you actually have tested that already. You've actually tried things and failed and made mistakes and learned things. So you want to be able to show that and the resume is the place to do it. You won't be able to do it in the essays. There'll be no room. So you're basically going to want to cut all this, just all this top stuff, just get rid of it. None of these pieces of software will be relevant post MBA, just delete them, just cut it off, okay? Then we get into the work experience. So you're doing what most people do, which is you describe your job. You don't describe yourself or the impact that you had. So it's great to see that somebody trusted you with 500K, but if I don't know whether or not you got a return for them on that 500K, then I have no idea how to evaluate this piece of information. So you want to think about, even just dealing with this first bullet of yearly departmental budget of 500K, what was the bottom-line impact that you created with that money? So, it looks like you were creating content, yeah?

Bob: Yeah. You were overseeing the creation of content. So to do that well in a business context, now there's obviously like “It was pretty, it was interesting.”, there's all of that, which may be meaningful, especially if there were comments about it or you think in some way that drove more sales because the videos look nicer. Great, that can be included. But let's think about this just really brass tax in terms of saving money or making money. How did you do your job well or better in such a way that if someone else had done it, maybe it wouldn't have been as profitable for the company?

Bob: Well, I definitely think this plays into my mission statement as well, where we went from twenty-six people in the department to four, with me as being the last employee in the department. So we had our budget actually reduced far below that number. It wasn't an even ratio of people lost to money lost. And we had to pick up all the work that was left behind. So really, that was the job and that was what I was successful in, making sure that the four people left behind could really sustainably take on the work that was left behind and make sure that no one was getting burnt out, that things were coming out the same quality that they had been, and finding ways that we could be more efficient and more organized around what we were trying to do.

Angela: Amazing. So one of the things that might actually be measurable — because there's several things in what you said. So there's employee management, well-being, responsibility for not churning and burning your people, that for sure probably warrants a bullet. But then there's probably also something really measurable. One year we produced X number of videos with twenty-six people. The next year we produced X minus two videos with four people or whatever it is.

Bob: Well, X plus six hundred.

Angela: I was going to say two hundred but I knew that was going to be way low. I knew that number was going to be way low. So it's like you did the same, right? No loss of productivity with 75% loss of resources, something like that. So that's meaningful. That's one of the results you produced was with less than a quarter of the staff, you produced the same caliber and quantity. Or less than 20% of staff even. Then the question is, how did you make that happen? Did you implement new project management systems? Did you streamline the editing process? And if so, how? How did you ensure quality? So now we're getting into the nitty gritty of how? How did you manage to get that done? And it may end up being multiple bullets because that sounds pretty complex. So there might have been stuff you did on the production side to streamline and make it more of an assembly line or whatever to streamline production, but then there was probably some stuff that you did around eliminating unnecessary overwork, and maybe that involved a project management system or different structure for communication. Maybe you even made some calls about prioritization. Like, okay, these videos we don't need, we're going to just cut those and it will have zero impact on the bottom line, and so we're going to focus on these. So there's a lot, undoubtedly that went into that, both for you as a video producer and content creator, but also as a manager of processes and teams. And you just want to get full credit for that. You want to get full credit for all those amazing things that you did and so that's how you do it on the resume. Then you want to go all the way down and do that. So here, “Built Asana ticketing framework used by all service departments.”. So why would I care about that? I guess it saved time and reduced errors, reduced duplicate work and stuff getting behind schedule. So see if you can even quantify, did that decrease time wasted on production and by what percentage? How can you start to map the what of what you did to the so what, to the impact that it had?

Bob: Got you. So like that top bullet point for that postproduction manager, that would be a good way to explain the second bullet point, like the impact that it had.

Angela: “Increased department deliverable output capacity by 80% without an increase in staff.”. So, this is moving in the right direction, but it's vague in two ways. First of all, output capacity is theoretical. Output is real.

Bob: Got you.

Angela: So I would take away the word capacity: Increased department deliverable output by 88 % without an increase in staff. Then it's vague because I don't know what you're talking about. Did you just use AI tools? I just saw this AI-generated beer commercial that's circulating in the metaverse. Deeply disturbing. But was it that? Did you use AI to do it? Did you use one of those plug-ins that does videos automatically for you? Or what was it? Partly Asana, partly, but Asana does nothing. Asana solves no problems, right? So there must have been strategic thinking. There must have been planning. There must have been communication. A lot of other stuff that went into it and you want to be able to show what you did. Otherwise, just imagine that someone's reading this who has no idea how anything gets done in your industry. And in fact, as I'm looking at this, you say increased department deliverable output, is that emails? What even is deliverable here? I actually don't even know. But even if I did know that it was a video, you want to assume somebody knows nothing about what goes into video production? So when they read this, they have no idea. There's nothing in here to hold on to that gives me a concrete sense of what you did or that you were a great manager.

Bob: Got you.

Angela: So you need to make it super real for anyone and especially for people outside of your industry, because that's who the admissions committee is. They have no idea about this. And so, they're looking to you to really be able to showcase “This is who I am, this what I done, this is the value I'm bringing to the table.”. This is part of why we've been doing a lot of experimentation with ChatGPT and it's like, AI still can't solve the resume problem at all because there's so much information in your brain that to create a prompt that would create the right resume would take way more work than just doing the bullet right in the first place. So you have to really think through the details of your experience and then where did you add value and how? And then you got to boil that down to two lines in the bullet points. It’s a big challenge, but it's really a worthwhile effort because you're going to need this skill in every job interview and every job application you're ever going to go through. That is your other big step to take. But if we zoom back out to the Bob Project, we're working on a Berkeley application, and I think you just got to stay the course with your test prep. It sounds like the GMAT is going to be fine for you. And then you just got to go about having a great time with the Berkeley essays and really showing the unique school fit that you do have already. So then it's just a matter of telling great stories, upgrading your resume. It's just a matter of at that point, the MBA execution process. And for those of you who are looking for a way to understand everything in the application process and make it as simple as possible, please be sure to check out MBA 101. You can go to It's like our introduction to applying to business school and all the big pieces that you need to be thinking about as you're applying to business school. It boils down the complexity of the process and brings your attention just to the things that are the most important. Check it out if you haven't already, Bob and all the rest of you. Definitely check it out. While you're down there, hit the subscribe button and let Bob know if you're rooting for him. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could not be rooting for somebody that has a mission statement like this. At this point, I think if anyone is still watching this video, they're going to have to scroll down and leave a comment because you just can't not support this mission. So, if you're still watching, scroll down and tell Bob that you're rooting for him, that you believe that the world would be a better place if he's able to get an MBA and move along the path that he's outlined. Everyone at Career Protocol sure does believe that, and we are definitely rooting for you on this journey, Bob. I hope you guys are too. Anything you want to say before we shut it down, Bob?

Bob: 100%. I think the MBA 101 stuff is gold. I think you are a gift to the community and you're like 100%. I have Zoom meetings all day, every day and I was nervous for this one because you're like a celebrity to me. So I think you make amazing content. It's been the most helpful out of everything I've researched and I really just appreciate you so much.

Angela: Aww amazing. Thank you so much. It's always so weird for me to hear celebrity-related comments, but I'm very gratified that a content maker likes our content. That means a lot. I know Jonny will also be thrilled to hear that.

Bob: You guys do an amazing job.

Angela: Amazing. Thank you so much, Bob. All right, everybody! Come back next week for more amazing MBA Monday content. And best of luck wherever you are on your MBA journey. We'll see you real soon!

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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