MBA Resume Tip: Toning Down The Tech-Talk
November 30, 2018 :: Admissionado
Here are two resume bullets:
“Worked with UI, backend and API engineers to build and deliver a web-to-cloud application in one month.”
“Led the integration of RPA and other AI software to increase completion rate of regulatory filings.”
If you come from a tech background, and your resume resembles either of these examples of overly technical tech-speak, you’ll need to do some major adjusting before sending that bad boy off to business school admissions committees.
If you DO send a resume full of technical jargon and untranslated tech-speak you can bet the MBA adcom will give it a quick read with a puzzled look, and set it aside, likely in the “no” pile. Can you blame them? They have thousands of resumes to read, not to mention the accompanying essays, candidate profiles, recommendations, and more. You can hardly expect them to sit down with a “Technology for Dummies” book and translate your resume piece by piece.
That’s YOUR job; and it’s about more than simply avoiding the jargon. You need to put your impressive tech accomplishments in business terms, using the universal language of bottom-line, business impact. But before we get to that, let’s start with the basics: using straightforward, universally understood language.
Can you spot the first red flag in the examples above? Put yourself in the adcom’s shoes: you’ll look through dozens of resumes today, and wouldn’t it be nice if each one just told you simply and clearly what that applicant has done and why it’s so impressive? Instead, within just a few words you’ve hit a snag: UI, API, RPA…huh?
These are smart, savvy people of the world, and they may even be familiar enough with your industry to know exactly what the alphabet soup you’ve given them means. But there’s no guarantee. Perhaps they come from a real estate background and they have no clue what robotic process automation is, or why it matters. Even if they do, maybe they’ve just read a CFA’s resume, and they mentioned their work with the SEC on EBITDA filings for KPMG. The extra minutes it takes them to wrap their brain around your acronyms may end up costing you.
We get it, you are immersed in this world and the particular language of your industry every day—it’s become second nature to you, and you probably don’t even recognize it as jargon anymore. Luckily, there’s a simple tool you can use to break out of that mindset and effectively translate your resume.
Imagine this: you are reading your resume to your niece or nephew, or to your grandparents, or really to anyone who would have trouble following the tech-speak it’s rife with. How would you explain each point to them? How would you tell them why developing that application of implementing that software mattered? They won’t realize on their own why that “web-to-cloud” development was so impressive, and you can’t expect the adcom to either.
>>>> Recommended Resources: MBA Resume Guide
That brings us to step two. Once you’ve wrapped your head around using plain English instead of tech-terms and acronyms, you want to make sure you are telling the adcom not just what you did but why it mattered. This is where that universally understood business language comes in. Everything you did had some impact on your company—on revenues, savings, or the efficiency with which it operates—and/or on your end-users—their ability to meet their goals, their loyalty to your company or product, their impact on the world. That’s where you’ll find the “why it matters” piece of the puzzle.
While to you the accomplishment may be that you integrated X software into Y function, think about the bigger picture: why were you asked to do that? What process were you improving, what step were you saving, or whose job were you making easier (or totally unnecessary)? Once you’ve found that impact, you’ll want to try and quantify it, as hard numbers are always the best way to show impact on a resume. Can you trace that software implementation to how many man-hours of labor it saved your company? Do you know how much was saved or how much new business was won as a result of a complex tech project you led?
That is what the adcom will care about. While your tech skills are impressive, remember that you are applying to BUSINESS school. They don’t need to know just how great a full stack developer you are, they need to know that you can see the bigger picture: why what you do on the backend matters to your users or to your company, and how to piece together your technical skills with a business savvy that will ultimately make you a good bet and earn you the admit.
So, what should that resume look like?
“Led a team of 4 engineers of different specialties to build an application that enabled our users to transform their traditional, limited web-based projects to the cloud, putting our product ahead of our direct competition and earning 2 new clients worth $1.5M within one month of release.
A little lengthy, but this does everything we could ask of it: we see leadership, the purpose of the project is clear (putting our product ahead of competition), and the result is stellar and presented in clear, universally understood business terms.
“Spearheaded the integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence software to streamline regulation-required financial filings, saving hundreds of man hours and approximately $200k in labor costs.”
See how that’s MUCH clearer and more straightforward than the original version? One of the keys here is not to get caught up in language that sounds impressive to you. It might be tempting to use jargon and acronyms because it makes you feel as though you are at the forefront of your industry (and great, if you are!), but when all it will do is leave the adcom dazed and confused, it’s not going to help your case.
When it comes to the b-school resume, use plain, straightforward laymen’s English, and focus on demonstrating impact in universally understood, business terms. DO this, and you’ll be a step ahead of all of your tech-background competitors.
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- Resume Guide
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