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You’ve had the big name internships, you’ve worked for a few years at a Fortune 500 company, most likely in a large city and now have that under your belt, and you have very strong and solid ambition for your future with specific, actual short and long-term goals.  Add a GMAT score that breaks 710, and even better 720, and you are certainly in the running.  So, what are you chances of really getting in to a top MBA program, if you have all of the above?

Good!  Allow me to say that the above makes you an ideal competitive Ivy League and Top Ten MBA candidate…on paper.  Your job is to now enhance that paper any way you can, so you stand out even more among the hundreds of other highly competitive MBA & EMBA candidates who have the exact same credentials.

In other words, you’ve made it through the gate by acquiring the above, but now you have to be offered a chance to sit down.

The best way to do this?  I’ll break it down into four sections below:

1. Your Resume:  Make sure your resume looks tight and clean.  You want a resume that looks simple, solid, straightforward and professional.  ideally it should fit on one page, unless you’ve had over 7 years work experience.

Applicants worry a lot about their job descriptions on their resume and spend much too much time playing around and changing little words that don’t matter.  What matters is how your resume looks. Ad coms can tell immediately if an applicant is a serious contender by just glancing at the resume, alone.

Is it easy to read?  Is it structured in a clean, lean way? Are you using “action verbs” that make your resume sound driven and energized versus passive, and are you showing responsibility within your descriptions -including # of employees you manage, if any, and the general level of financials that pass through your department or deals.  Remember, numbers show responsibility clearer than anything else.

2. Your Essays:  This is your chance to shine, and by that I mean “out shine” the man or woman sitting next to you who is also competing for your spot.  Use the essays to show what makes you different.  To show your level of responsibility, to show how you solve problems, are creative, and can work around challenge on the job.

If you’re having difficulty thinking of the right experience to write about, choose an experience that brings up a lot of EMOTION.  That emotion, good or bad, is going to come through in your writing as powerful, and powerful is exactly the type of essay that is going to be remembered and set you apart.

3. Your Rec Letters:  Choose your recommenders wisely.  You want someone who knows you well, and is, ideally, in a higher, more supervising position than you.  Some recommenders will ask you to lay out some guidelines of what you would like them to talk about in the letter, while others will prefer to write the letters solely on their own.  The bottom line is, try to briefly familiarize them with your goals, so they can speak to the fact that they understand “why” you want your MBA at this particular time.

4. Your Interview:  The interview is also your chance to shine, and demonstrate your confidence and security in speaking about your future.  The strongest interviews are those where applicants fully realize they are choosing the school via the interview just as much as the school is choosing them.  There’s an equality to the best interviews, and a flow that demonstrates  again, confidence, and an ability to make the other comfortable and have an engaging conversation.

Put these four points together, and speak confidently about your background, goals, and experience demonstrating that you know your industry and what it takes to get to the top, and you’ll be on your way.

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan.  For more information, go to:]

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