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Focus on Impact When Selling Your Experience

October 04, 2018 :: Jacob Allison

Focus on Impact

While great GMAT scores and killer application essays are a big part of making your elite MBA admissions dreams come true, interviews and resumes are also an essential part of securing your spot, getting that key internship, and, eventually, nabbing that full-time position.

You can never completely predict what an interviewer is going to ask, and that’s why MBA interviews are often the most stressful part of the application process. Applicants can assume that they’ll be asked about their accomplishments, but communicating those in an effective way isn’t always straightforward.

For many international applicants who have grown up in cultures where self-promotion is taboo, communicating successes to an American interviewer, whether it’s at an MBA interview or a job interview, might be a step out of their comfort zone. Why is that? Well, they’re up against American applicants, many of whom were taught from young age to prize competition and to market themselves as “the best thing since sliced bread.”

So, how do you learn to communicate your accomplishments “American style?” Eat lots of hotdogs and apple pie, of course! Just kidding. While it may seem that adding a few more adjectives to describe your work responsibilities can cut it, we think there’s a more effective, and less stressful approach.

Focus on impact.

Here’s an example of a typical resume bullet:

Led a team that created an advertisement for Schwinn’s all-chicken hot dogs, contributing to $2.5M in increased sales for Schwinn in Q2.

And here’s that same experience spun to show the full impact.

Led a team of six, including designers, analysts, and sales executives, to create and implement a new advertising campaign for Schwinn’s hot dogs, resulting in a 75% increase in hot dog sales in Q2 worth $2.5M.

See what the applicant did there? They didn’t add any over-the-top adjectives or change the story to sound more “flashy,” they simply added some CONTEXT to help the interviewer understand how their leadership impacted their company’s hot dog advertisement campaign. By having some context about the different team members the applicant lead, the interviewer now knows that the applicant is great at leading diverse teams. By showing the interviewer the percentage of increase in hotdog sales, the applicant has helped them understand the extent of the impact. No bragging or “stretching the truth” needed here!

Focusing on impact won’t just help you write a winning resume and ace those interviews, it can help you effectively communicate your personal brand. Does your resume demonstrate that you have a lot of experience making an impact while leading teams through crisis moments? Maybe part of your personal brand involves being “good under pressure.” If your experience backs up that claim, then you shouldn’t feel shy about being proud of it, especially when talking to interviewers.

By focusing on impact on their resumes and in their interviews, international applicants can improve how they communicate their accomplishments without having to feel like they’re being disingenuous or boastful.


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