I Thought My MBA Application CV Was Perfect, but I Was Wrong

Leandro Salles
I still remember the painful times during my application when I needed to write my CV.

It was probably the document that I had read the most in my life – I didn't count exactly how many times I did it, but my guess is more than 100 among all different versions.

Despite all the effort, I submitted it at the time with the feeling that I could have done a better job.

AND I WAS RIGHT. Let me tell you why:

Barely two weeks after the MBA programme started, INSEAD’s Career Development Center (CDC) asked all incoming students to upload their Curriculum Vitae (CVs) into their platform. CDC would then publish the first version of their “CV-Book”, a PDF collection of all the class CVs which is accessible to employers.

When I first got this request, I thought the task was easy, since I would take the CV I submitted during the application process, make a quick review and submit it. After all, there would be few accomplishments to add. Luckily, INSEAD proved me wrong.

CDC hosted a handful of activities I went through that made me enhance the quality of my CV. I am sharing them below together with some tips that will possibly allow you to enhance yours before you apply:

1 – CV Webinar with CDC Director Katja Boytler: even before I set my foot on campus, INSEAD held a webinar to explain why the CV is still an important tool for your job search. There, I understood the importance of phrasing my CV accomplishments highlighting their impact. For that, starting my sentences with strong action verbs such as those in this list was useful.

2 – Running my CV through a CV analyser tool: INSEAD offered me the possibility of running my CV through an AI tool that would spot opportunities to better write my CV. After doing it, something I could easily correct was my usage of articles that may be suppressed in CV sentences, such as “the”, “which” or “where”.

3 – CV Peer Reviews: a round-table with four peers and a Careers Specialist where they scanned my CV to share their feedback and suggestions. Here, I got very specific feedback on accomplishments where the impact was not clear. It was possible to see the benefit of circulating my CV to get unbiased feedback, especially since English is not my native language. When I applied, only one person proof-read my CV, which was probably a mistake.

4 – CV final review with Careers Specialist: a final, detailed review with a CDC member helped to give the final touch to my CV before submission. Specifically, it helped me quantify some accomplishments and put them into context with measurable results. For instance, one of my “bullet points” related to people development was quantified in terms of the improvement my team member had and on his annual evaluation.

More importantly, I found that the CV is a living document. I will never have a final version of it. No matter the amount of times I review it, there will always be something to improve.

PS.: if you plan to apply for INSEAD, please note that the Admissions Committee suggests a CV template to follow.