All About the Application: Resume Guidance
We get quite a few questions about resumes (format, length, what to include, what to exclude, etc.), and we thought we would some of our favorite guidance here on the blog. As with the previous posts in our Application Tips series, the advice below is general in nature, so if you have a more nuanced situation, feel free to send us an email. We can be reached at Darden@darden.virginia.edu or ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.
Length – This is easily the #1 resume question. How long should your resume be? As a rough guide, you should aim for 1 page for every 10 years of work experience, but this is a rough guide, and we’re not going to get upset about a two or even three page resume. Now, if you have a 20 page resume (yes, they do exist)…that’s a different story. Remember: Our Admissions Committee is reading a bunch of files in addition to yours, and we want to make sure we’re giving each applicant’s materials a fair and complete review. A little time spent editing your resume is greatly appreciated by our Admissions Committee.
Think about your application holistically – What story does it tell? Since we will be considering your application as a whole when evaluating your candidacy, this is a good rule to generally keep in mind when assembling your application materials. However, it has particular application when it comes to your resume.
Applicants frequently ask why we have an Employment History section in our application and also request a copy of a candidate’s resume? Well, these sections are not totally duplicative, as Employment History asks for information that is often not included on an applicant’s resume (salary, hours worked, reason for departure, etc.). The resume is a great place to highlight what you accomplished in your roles – the more you can quantify your results, the better! We recommend thinking about how these sections operate in tandem, and the overall story they tell about your work experience and career. The best applications leverage both the Employment History and resume sections for maximum insight and impact.
Tell us a little about yourself – Most resumes are all business (obvi). But it’s also nice for us to learn about you as a person. If you have space on your resume, consider including a few personal hobbies or interests, books you’ve read recently, podcasts you’re currently listening to or countries you’ve visited lately. At Darden, we’re all about the case method, and you will bring your whole self to the classroom. It’s not just about what you’ve done, but also who you are. A few personal details on your resume can go a long way towards giving us a more complete picture of you.