Saturday, July 28, 2012

Round 1 or Round 2 for your MBA Application?

Adam Markus has an excellent post at his blog titled Round1? Round2? Apply when you are ready!. I recommend all aiming for an MBA this year to review this article.  It features a brief interview with me, as well as my colleagues Vince Ricci, Stephen Round and Ed Lee. In the article, we discuss trends facing MBA applicants this year, as well as our collective thoughts on the topic of when to apply.  Take a look at the article here.  

John Couke

Friday, July 27, 2012

Deliberate Practice

One very interesting book I have read recently is Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everyone Else, by Geoff Colvin. In this book, he attempts to define what makes some people amazing at what they do, and in doing so shows that answers like "they are really smart" or "they work hard" are not entirely correct.  Instead, he points to something he defines as deliberate practice as the key to success.  Deliberate practice is, by his definition, boring, repetitive, highly focused on weaknesses, and informed by instruction.  It is hard to do and is rarely enjoyable.  But the people that do it, do it regularly, and do it well, can and do succeed. 

When I read this book immediately I thought of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule. He wrote about this in his book Outliers: Stories of Success, showing how often, those who have achieved great success have done so by acquiring focused experience (i.e. 10,000 hours worth) in a particular area.  I wondered what the similarities and differences were between Colvin and Gladwell's approach.  Read on in a recent posting to the Barking up the Wrong Tree blog (which comes highly recommended by the way) to see how these ideas come together.

The importance for MBA or LLM applicants?  Hard work - effort - is not enough, and simply worrying about your situation is not enough too.  Instead, you need to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, work closely with someone to build a plan to highlight the strengths and address the weaknesses, and then carry out that plan.    This applies to document preparation, and to interview practice as well.

John Couke

Chicago Booth to hold Tokyo Admissions Event on August 27, 2012

It was reported to me that Chicago Booth will be hosting an Admissions Information Sessions for their Full-Time MBA program on Monday, August 27th 2012 from 7pm to 9pm.

Details and the sign up form can be found here.

John Couke

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Choosing and Managing Referees for your MBA Application

This post is designed to offe the starting points of selecting, talking with, and managing the work your recommendation writer will contribute to your MBA application.

1. Choose the Right Person

There are three basic principles to keep in mind:

a) Choose someone who knows you well, rather than someone with an impressive title.

It isn't worth it to try and impress your reader by getting a referee who has CEO in his/her title.  First of all, the CEO of your company is probably not famous anyways.  Moreover, if you do play the "impressive referee game", you're likely to be competing with people offering reference letter from current or former Presidents, so you'll end up using the game.  Finally and most importantly, if your referee with the impressive title doesn't know you well because you two haven't worked closely on anything, it'll be immediately obvious from the contents of the letter, and your application reader will be less willing to value it highly - because their job is to learn something about you, and the weak or vague reference letter won't allow them to do that.

It's always best to find someone who knows you well, and has been in a position to observe your work, and assess the skill set you have gained from your work. 

b) Choose someone who has been in a position to judge your performance recently.

Avoid the direct supervisor who you worked with from 1996 to 1998.  The obvious reason is that no matter what they have to say about you, it'l be extremely difficult for your application reader to feel like they understand who you are, what you are good at, and how you work with or lead others now.  Always aim for more recent supervisors wherever possible.

Moreover, avoid choosing a colleague, or subordinate.  It is best to use someone who was responsible for or responsible for evaluating, your work.  Choosing a colleague may compromise the effectiveness of the letter, especially if the relationship is vague or hard to understand.

c) Choose someone who can go beyond the shallow compliment level.

The letter needs detail on what you have done, and an analysis as to what this says about your strengths or areas in need of development. For this, it is best to find a referee who can describe one of your accomplishments or projects in detail, and with specific examples of what you did, as well as their own clear reflections as to the impact you made, and what the experience says about who you are and what you are good at.  There is nothing less effective than a recommendation letter that is full of nice adjectives (friendly, smart, great, really great) but short on detail.  

2. Buy them Lunch

It is important that you sit down with your referee and have a conversation about your story. By this I mean why you need an MBA, and your future goals.  Doing so will allow you both to discuss any relevant skills you feel you have towards this goal, and possible examples of how you have shown them at the place of work shared by you and the referee. 

Note that this is not you lecturing your referee about what to write - instead for the two of you it is an opportunity to brainstorm and reflect upon your experience, to consider examples which may help to show you in a clear way.  Ultimately, it is up to your recommender to choose what to write about.  But by discussing the topics listed above, you can help them to understand where the MBA fits between your background and future, as well as what you aim to gain from, and possibly contribute to, the program.

3. Manage the Schedule

This is not to be overlooked.  Your referee - often your supervisor or someone superior to you in some way - is very likely to have a busier schedule than you do, full of commitments to keep with many people.  While there is no doubt your reference letter will be impotent to them, there is also the risk that it won't get done in a timely fashion, or will at least be pitied behind other commitments, and this can cause you undue stress at a time when you should be focusing your energy on your own essays and applications.  

One strategy I have seen work well is to set and then stick to early deadlines.  

The longer they wait, and the closer they get to the actual application deadline, the greater the chance your letter will be put together hastily, and therefore ineffectively.  

If the drop-dead date they need to submit their letter is January 5th, try and get them initially to finish their letter by December 1st.  This way, if they miss that deadline, there is an opportunity for you to extend it 1-2 weeks, and ask them to ensure they not miss the second deadline.  Even if they miss that, a final reminder can usually be effective enough to get them on the case before the holiday season begins.  

Earlier is of course better - so encourage your referee to start in on the letter shortly after your face-to-face meeting: this way you can help to ensure that what was discussed is fresh in their minds.

There's a lot to manage when it comes to applying to an MBA program.  Don't forget to manage the recommendation letter process as well.

John Couke

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Georgetown McDonough Releases 2012-13 MBA Deadlines and Essay Questions (including one tweet!)

The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University has announced their deadlines and essay prompts for applicants aiming to enter the program in the fall of 2013.  Here are the deadlines:

Round 1:
Deadline - 10/15/2012
Decision - 12/15/2012

Round 2: *
Deadline - 1/5/2013
Decision - 3/15/2013

Round 3:
Deadline - 4/1/2013
Decision - 5/15/2013

* International students are strongly encouraged to apply by Round 2 to have sufficient time for the visa process.

Georgetown has made significant changes to their essays this year, and one change of note is that they now require a tweet within their essay set.  A tweet is, of course, a twitter message limited to 140 characters or less. While other schools have introduced new and extremely short essays asking applicants to (for instance) introduce an interesting or fun fact about themselves (i.e. Kellogg), Georgetown is asking you to define why you want to go to their school in 140 characters or less.

Essay 1:
(answer BOTH part A and B)

1A. What is your short-term goal following graduation from the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program? What skills are you seeking to develop or improve upon in order to reach your goals? (500 words or fewer)
1B. What is your long-term career goal? (100 words or fewer)

Essay 2:
(answer either A or B)
2A. Describe a global business challenge and its relevance to your post-MBA career. (750 words or fewer)
2B. Describe yourself both personally and professionally and how you will contribute to the Georgetown McDonough community. (750 words or fewer)

Essay 3:
Why do you want to attend the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program?  Tell us in tweet format*. (140 characters or fewer)

Optional Essay 1:
If you are not currently employed full-time, use this essay to provide information about your current activities. (250 words or fewer)

Optional Essay 2:
Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words or fewer)

Reapplicant Essay:
How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (500 words or fewer)

As always, please verify all information directly at Georgetown's admissions website.

John Couke

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

IESE Business School Announces 2012-13 Application Deadlines

IESE Business School's Key Dates and Deadlines page was updated recently to include the application deadlines for the 2012-13 admissions season. The deadlines are as follows:



The site notes than non EU applicants should apply before April.  As always, please refer directly to the IESE admissions website for more information.

John Couke

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wharton Adds Team-Based Discussion to the Admissions Process

Karl Ulrich, the Vice Dean of Innovation at the Wharton School, announced recently via the school's MBA Admissions Blog that beginning this application season, the school will officially roll out a team-based discussion as a part of its admissions process this year.

The concept of Wharton's team-based discussion is not a new one, and has already been written about extensively here, here and here at Poets & Quants.  Details include the fact that the change was experimented with at the end of the previous admissions season, and that it involved a simulation of a real class discussion of a business issue.

It will be interesting to see how international students will be asked to participate in such a discussion, what format the interaction will take (live? some kind of internet-based video link?), or what alternatives may be offered.  I'll post more information on this as Wharton makes it available.

John Couke

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kellogg 2012-13 MBA Essay Analysis

What follows is a quick analysis of the application essays included in the Kellogg application for those aiming to enter the program in the fall of 2013.

Required Essays:

1. Discuss moments or influences in your personal life that have defined who you are today. (500 word limit)

As the question asks, this is to be a non-work related story.  What to choose? Certainly topics that reveal the strengths and characteristics you have today. The question asks for moments or influences - meaning that first of all more than one topic can be used, and in addition to that you may consider a story or even a person or experience that has helped to shape who you are today.  Be careful to avoid work topics, and also be careful to always show the relevance of any topic you do develop to who you are now.  It is likely possible to include 2-3 separate elements as you weave together a picture of who you are now.

2. What have been your most significant leadership experiences? What challenges did you face, and what impact did you have? This is your opportunity to explain how you Think Bravely (personally and/or professionally). (500 word limit)

Leadership experiences is plural so I usually recommend people to write about more than one experience in this essay. Two is often ideal, as it may be difficult to put more than that into a single 500 word essay. Two is also ideal, as those who wish to emphasize that their leadership goes beyond their jobs can use one professional and one personal example in developing their answer to this essay.  

Significant experiences with challenges and impacts have two key factors: a) your could learn from them and b) you could make a difference on the people around you by accomplishing something.  I think it necessary to try and show both in the overall essay, and even in possible in each episode you choose to write about. Choose episodes in which you had an impact as a leader, and for each be clear about what you did, the impact of success, and what you learned (about leadership or about yourself) from each.  The goal is to paint a picture of who you are and how you lead today - as the result of your accumulated experiences and learning.

The last part of the question (Think Bravely) s a new addition for this year. Think Bravely appears to mean being able to envision major changes by thinking outside the box, taking the necessary steps towards implementing these changes, and importantly, encouraging/enabling others to join.  Watch this video hereAdditionally, here is a brief analysis from Kellogg Dean Sally Blount here

Consider the leadership episodes from this perspective. While it is not advisable to copy the words and feelings from the videos into your leadership experiences in this essay, it is worthwhile to ask yourself if, after reading your stories, you feel that Kellogg would believe that you exemplify these ideals, or are capable of becoming the kind of transformative leader they wish to mould at the school.  Do your experiences help show that you have the potential to make amazing and significant changes in the future? This is the type of person who may be successful at Kellogg.

3. Imagine yourself at your Kellogg graduation. What career will you be preparing to enter, and how have the MBA and Kellogg helped you get there? (Please answer in terms of your program choice: One-Year, Two-Year, MMM, JD-MBA) (500 word limit)

This is the standard goals - why MBA - why school essay. In order to prepare to write his essay, or any other goals essay for that matter, you need to deeply consider the following questions:

What are your current strengths and skills?
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
How will those current strengths and skills be useful in achieving those goals?
What additional skills or experiences do you need?
How (with specific examples) can you get these additional skills and experiences at Kellogg?

Your answers to these questions and the alignment that comes as they are put together will become the building blocks of this essay.

In terms of the goals, because the subject of this essay is you at graduation, you should probably be able to write very clear and specific short-term goals.  Identify the challenge you are moving onto next, and why it is a desirable and important next step for you. So imagining yourself with no idea what your next step will be (may be true and realistic for some but) will not be an effective way to showcase yourself effectively here.  Add detail as well on your long term goal, and where you envision your career going 5-10 years after graduation.

The twist here is that you are imagining yourself after completing our 2 years at Kellogg, so naturally you will need to reflect on the courses that were most memorable and useful to you now - even before you have enrolled in the program! It would be ineffective this essay ambiguously, i.e. to only write that there were "various" or "several" courses that had an impact on you. What strengths do you need to gain at Kellogg and which courses or experiences may help you to gain them? Do your homework, and try to come up with 3-4 concrete examples of courses or experiences at Kellogg that may help you position yourself to achieve the goals you have for the future. 

4. What one interesting or fun fact would you want your future Kellogg classmates to know about you? (25 words or less)

There is no do this and don't do that set of rules with a short essay.  Aim for surprise, color, and a memorable finish to your essay set here.

Those that feel a 25-word essay is easier than a 100-word essay will likely change their opinion as they try to put this one together. This content should be memorable, surprising, not developed in detail anywhere else in your application, and should reveal something (else) special and different about you that is appealing to admissions at Kellogg and/or shows how you will add value to your future colleagues. Did you lead your university soccer team to a national championship? Is your passion cooking Italian food?  Take your unique strength or skill and try to show it in a way that demonstrates the contribution you'll have at Kellogg. In so doing, you can use this last essay to make a colorful and memorable conclusion to your Kellogg essay set, offering one extra thing that'll show your potential to contribute to the Kellogg experience. 

Additional Information (Optional):
If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (No word limit)

This additional essay is intended to address possibly negative elements of your application.  The content (and decision as to write it or not) will be done on an individual basis - but certainly if you have failed a course in university or had a bad term, for instance, you'll want to aim to highlight all the great things you were doing at that time in your life, or offer up something else as an explanation.

John Couke

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Duke Fuqua MBA Program Deadlines and Essay Topics for 2012-13 Admissions

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has released their application deadlines and essay topics for those aiming to apply to enter the MBA program starting in the fall of 2013. The essay topics as written at the Duke website are at the end of this post; here are the deadlines:

Early Action:
Deadline: 9/19/2012
Interview Invitation by: 10/9/2012
Interview Period (in Durham): 9/10/2012 - 10/16/2012
Interview Period (off-campus): 10/11/2012 - 10/16/2012
Decision: 10/30/2012

Round 1:
Deadline: 10/24/2012
Interview Invitation by: 11/28/2012
Interview Period (in Durham): 12/6/2012 - 12/11/2012
Interview Period (off-campus): 12/1/2012 - 12/11/2012
Decision: 1/8/2013

Round 2:
Deadline: 1/4/2013
Interview Invitation by: 2/7/2013
Interview Period (in Durham): 2/14/2013 - 2/24/2013
Interview Period (off-campus): 2/8/2013 - 2/24/2013
Decision: 3/18/2013

Round 3:
Deadline: 3/21/2013
Interview Invitation by: 4/10/2013
Interview Period (in Durham): 4/22/2013 - 4/30/2013
Interview Period (off-campus): 4/11/2013 - 4/30/2013
Decision: 5/10/2013


  • Three short answer questions and two essays are required for all applicants.
  • Responses should use 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
  • Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
  • Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers important in the selection process.

Required Short Answer Questions: Answer all 3 questions 
Respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).
1.  What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
2.  What are your long-term goals?
3.  Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

Required Essays: Answer both essay questions
1.  The "Team Fuqua" spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of "25 Random Things About Yourself." As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire's professional and academic background, so learning these "25 Random Things" helps us get to know someone's personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of "25 Random Things" about YOU.

Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

2.  When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

Optional Essay:
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).
  • Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
  • The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
  • Limit your response to two pages.

As always, do confirm all information directly at Duke's admissions website.

John Couke

Monday, July 16, 2012

Choosing an Advisor for your LLM Application

LLM program applicants have several options when it comes to choosing who to get advice from on their applications.  In this entry I'll investigate the pros and cons of three possible sources of advice: a lawyer, an admissions consultant, and an English teacher / essay editor.


Pros:  Depending on which lawyer you choose, he/she may have applied to and experienced an LLM themselves. In this case, they can give you valuable information about their experience in the program, such as what classes were interesting and the academic interests held by certain professors. A lawyer can also be of use when writing a particularly academic essay, such as the one required by Harvard Law School, in which you need to (for instance) offer a legal analysis to address a current issue in your area of expertise.  In such a situation they may be able to offer a commentary as to the legal validity or persuasiveness of your argument and/or solution.

Cons: Again, it depends on who you work with, but a lawyer may have little or no experience helping people get into an LLM program.  This is worth considering.  They may say (for instance) that your goals or the area of your background you have chosen to describe make sense - but do they know if they are persuasive from an admissions standpoint?  Experiencing an LLM in and of itself does not mean someone is qualified to tell you what you should or shouldn't be writing about.

Admissions consultants:

Pros: Your admissions consultant may have extensive experience helping people gain acceptance to their first choice LLM program.  If their experience with a particular school is strong, then they may be able to help you gain admittance to the same program. Also, if they have a lot of experience, they may be in a position to compare the relative strength of your application to those they have seen in the past.  

Cons: Depending on when you ask, a popular consultant may be busy, or may not have any time at all to spare for you. Admissions consulting is a seasonal job, obviously because admissions runs on a deadline basis, and a lot of schools tend to have similar deadlines.  Availability may be an issue and so you'll need to plan ahead if you intend to go this route.

English teachers or English essay editors:

Pros: If cost is an issue this option may be attractive because often English teachers offer a relatively low hourly rate for their time. Availability is probably also not an issue because English teaching or editing is not a seasonal field.

Cons: This is certainly going to be case-by-case, but most often the negative point here will be lack of experience with the LLM admissions process. As a result, your essays may read well and utilize nice grammar, but unfortunately from a strategic perspective they may be lacking - and this is a daunting risk to take as an applicant.  


Working with an admissions consultant is likely the best option, however there is one caveat: it is always best to work with not just any counselor. but instead a counselor who has extensive experience guiding former clients into your top-choice program. So if you elect to use an admissions counselor, choose yours carefully, and ensure the other factors listed above (availability, etc.) meet your criteria. At the end of the day, this decision must be made by each individual.  So choose the option that is best for you, given your own unique circumstances.

John Couke

Sunday, July 15, 2012

UVA Darden 2012-13 Application Deadlines and Advice on Applying to the Program

UVA Darden has released their deadlines for applying to its MBA program starting in the fall of 2013, they are reproduced below.

Additionally, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions Sara Neher has recently posted a video touching upon numerous admissions topics for Darden, including how to approach their one essay and also the interview.  Watch the full video here in a post on the Darden Admission & MBA Blog (a good resource for Darden applicants).

Round 1:
Deadline - 10/15/2012
Decision - 12/19/2012

Round 2:
Deadline - 1/9/2013
Decision - 3/20/2013

Round 3:
Deadline - 3/28/2013
Decision - 5/8/2013

As always, do confirm all information directly at Darden's official admissions site.

John Couke

CMU Tepper Deadlines for 2012-13 MBA Application Season

Here are the deadlines for applying to CMU's Tepper School of Business MBA program starting in the fall of 2013:

Round 1:
Deadline - 10/22/2012
Decision - 12/19/2012

Round 2:
Deadline - 1/3/2013
Decision - 3/18/2013

Round 3: (*)
Deadline - 3/4/2013
Decision - 4/30/2013

Round 4: (**)
Deadline - 4/22/2013
Decision - 5/24/2013

Round 5: (***)
Deadline - 6/3/2013
Rolling Decisions

(*) - this is the final deadline for international applicants.
(**) - this deadline is for US citizens and permanent residents only.
(***) - for FlexTime applicants

As always, do confirm all information directly within CMU Tepper's admissions pages.

John Couke

Friday, July 13, 2012

Northwestern Kellogg Essays for the 2012-13 Application Season (including one with a 25 word limit)

Northwestern Kellogg has released their essay questions for those applying to the MBA class entering in the fall of 2013.

One change that stands out is the inclusion of a 25-word essay asking for an "interesting or fun fact" that the applicant would want their future Kellogg classmates to know about them.  Shorter essays are always harder to write than longer ones, and the careful applicant will want to ensure they have something that answers this question which is clear, succinct and memorable.

Required Essays:
1. Discuss moments or influences in your personal life that have defined who you are today. (500 word limit)
2. What have been your most significant leadership experiences? What challenges did you face, and what impact did you have? This is your opportunity to explain how you Think Bravely (personally and/or professionally). (500 word limit)
3. Imagine yourself at your Kellogg graduation. What career will you be preparing to enter, and how have the MBA and Kellogg helped you get there? (Please answer in terms of your program choice: One-Year, Two-Year, MMM, JD-MBA) (500 word limit)
4. What one interesting or fun fact would you want your future Kellogg classmates to know about you? (25 words or less)

MMM Applicants Only:
How have you redefined yourself, your business environment and your community through the pursuit of design and innovation? (400 word limit)

For MMM applicants only: This is an optional essay that will be evaluated for the Rasmussen scholarship. 

Re-Applicants Only:
Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit) 

Please note: re-applicants are required to answer this question in addition to #1-4. 

Additional Information (Optional):
If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (No word limit)

The essay questions and instructions are reproduced above as they appear on the Northwestern Kellogg admissions site. Do verify all information directly with the program.

John Couke

UCLA Anderson MBA Application Essays for 2012-13

UCLA Anderson has released their admissions essays for applicants hoping to start their MBA in the fall of 2013.

Required Essays:

1. What is your proudest achievement outside the workplace, and how has it impacted you? (700 words maximum)
2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (700 words maximum)

Optional Essay:

The following essay is optional. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. Please note that we only accept written essays.

Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

Reapplicant Essay:

Reapplicants who applied for the class entering in fall 2011 or 2012 are required to complete the following essay:

Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

Please verify all information at the school's official admissions website.

John Couke

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can I Contribute to an MBA Program?

I met an MBA applicant the other day who told me something that I have heard many, many times before.  "I am worried about my chances to contribute to an MBA program, because I don't feel I have much to offer to the people there."

This is a common refrain because it is difficult to look at your own experiences (professional, academic and personal) and be able to understand quickly what makes you different or special from other people.  

It is also common for me to hear this because I think that many applicants "sell themselves short" - i.e. they imagine an MBA world full of elite consultants and investment bankers, and somehow feel inferior to them.

In reality, the idea that you have nothing to offer an MBA program couldn't be further from the truth.  Here are some areas in which you may have something to offer:

a) Industry-specific knowledge

Whatever you do for a living has offered you the chance to develop knowledge about customers and trends that could be of interest to your future fellow students or even professors. Maybe you have participated in the process of getting medical equipment approved in Japan, or maybe you've helped an NGO gain local funding. These experiences of yours will be of interest to your classmates, who may confront similar challenges in the future.

b) diversity and cultural representation

If you come from a place that doesn't have a lot of representation in MBA programs, then you could help your classmates become more culturally aware and global people. Your experiences and understanding of your culture might not seem unique to you - but once you leave your home country and surround yourself with people of different backgrounds, you'll see just how unique you are. 

c) personal passions

Whether you are a determined tennis player, a championship-calibre swimmer, or just someone who enjoys football, you'll find like-minded people with similar interests in your MBA program. You may even be able to join forces with others and create events or activities that make a lasting impression on the school.

All you need to show is some tendency towards initiative, teamwork or leadership, and you are well on the road to developing a few concrete examples of what you can offer your future colleagues in an MBA program.

If you are struggling to figure out what makes you different or special, or what you might be able to offer to an MBA program, talk to someone with experience going through the process or better yet - experience helping others go through the process.  Several MBA admissions consultants have experience working with many, many applicants just like you - and so they can know what makes you unique, even if you don't.

John Couke

LLM Applicants: Organizing Resume Sections

There are three primary differences that separate the LLM resume from resumes for other programs: the ordering of sections, the inclusion of additional sections, and the overall length of the document.

1) Ordering the Sections on the Page

Your academic background and performance is a very important part of your overall LLM application. In some cases that I have seen it is even more directly related to the LLM experience that recent working experience. For this reason, I have often suggested to former clients that they emphasize their academic accomplishment by featuring the education section at the top of the resume, just underneath the contact information and before the professional experience - even if this puts the entire document out of reverse chronological order.  The difference may not seem like a lot - after all both education and experience will appear in the document - but the impact is to me strong and especially so for applicants with a strong academic background. Reordering in this way can lead to a very good first impression for the resume reader.

2) Inclusion of additional sections

The LLM resume should be made up of the same sections that would be found in a normal resume, namely: contact information, education, professional experience and additional.  However a strong LLM resume can also include additional sections, each of which add value by being relevant to the academic rigors of the LLM.  These sections can include Academic Publications or Academic Presentations.  Each will give the reader a strong understanding of the applicant's academic experience. They can also help the reader to see the particular legal fields in the which the applicant has academic experience or focuses on in their work.

3) Length

I feel strongly that a good resume is a 1-page document, as I have written before.  I feel the same is true for the LLM resume: a strong presentation of professional and academic skills is best done over one single page, where just the most relevant accomplishments are included. A resume that goes slightly over 1 page can be cut down by reformatting or simply removing some additional section contents (which are sometimes less important for LLM applications). However, I have in my experience seen some applicants with enough content spanning education, professional experience, academic publications and presentations to warrant a 2-page document, and so certainly the resume can be formatted to achieve this in a way that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read.  

John Couke

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chicago Booth Deadlines and Essays (with an optional PowerPoint presentation) for 2012-13 Admissions Season

In a recent posting to the Booth Insider (their admissions blog and a must-read for applicants), Chicago Booth announced its deadlines and essay topics for those applying for the MBA program beginning in the fall of 2013. Here are the deadlines:

Round 1:
Deadline - 10/2/2012
Decision - 12/19/2012

Round 2:
Deadline - 1/8/2013
Decision - 3/28/2013

Round 3:
Deadline - 4/4/2013
Decision - 5/23/2013

These deadlines can be verified at Chicago Booth's official admissions site.

The programs has also made major revisions to its essay set for this year. Most notable among these changes is that the PowerPoint submission is now optional; applicants can choose to write a 600 word essay in place of the PowerPoint. Here are the essays:

1) Essay:
What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will an MBA from Chicago Booth help you reach them? (500 words maximum)

2) Short Answer Essays:
a. What has been your biggest challenge, and what have you learned from it?  (200 words maximum)
b. Tell us about something that has fundamentally transformed the way you think. (200 words maximum)

3) Presentation/Essay:
The Chicago experience will take you deeper into issues, force you to challenge assumptions, and broaden your perspective.  In a four-slide presentation or an essay of no more than 600 words, broaden our perspective about who you are. Understanding what we currently know about you from the application, what else would you like us to know?

4) Re-applicant Essay:
Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words)
Only those applicants who applied for entrance in Fall 2011 or 2012 are required to complete this essay.

The school noted their application will come out in early August 2012. Until then, these questions can be verified by reading the post to the Booth Insider announcing them.

John Couke

UCLA Anderson MBA Program Releases 2012-13 Deadlines

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has released its deadlines for those aiming to apply for the MBA program beginning in the fall of 2013.

Round 1:
Deadline - 10/24/2012
Decision - 1/23/2013

Round 2:

Deadline - 1/9/2013
Decision - 4/3/2013

Round 3:

Deadline - 4/17/2013
Decision - 6/5/2013

The deadlines page notes that while rounds 1 and 2 are similar in competitiveness, round 3 becomes more competitive as offers are accepted.

As always, do verify all information directly at UCLA Anderson's official admissions site

John Couke

Monday, July 9, 2012

MIT Sloan 2012-13 MBA Essay Analysis

This year there is less word count available for your MIT Sloan admissions essays.  They used to offer three 500-word essays in addition the cover letter but now they only offer two.  This is a trend that has ben occurring amongst several top US, and in this regard MIT is no exception.  The applicant to Sloan will need to be careful in choosing the right topics as well as the right details to get across who they are in the (always) short cover letter, as well as across this small(er) essay set.

What follows are some opinions and notes geared towards getting you started on your MIT Sloan essays.

Cover Letter:

Please prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should describe your accomplishments, address any extenuating circumstances that may apply to your application, and conform to standard business correspondence. Your letter should be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions.


I have divided my analysis of the cover letter into three parts:

1) Contents
2) Design
3) Word Limitation

1) Contents

There is a lot to fit into 500 words here. It is ideal to touch upon each of the following things:

a) your accomplishments

The questions asks for accomplishments (plural) but due to space limitations it'll be hard to 
It'd be good to mention one specific accomplishment, and the impact you had on those around you. You may also choose to describe an additional accomplishment (note the question asks for more than one) and so for the sake of balance the second accomplishment may be a non-professional one. 

b) extenuating circumstances

It is never a good idea to dedicate a lot of space to blemishes in your application, especially in a cover letter introducing yourself to the head of admissions of the program! Ideally, addressing extenuating circumstances would involve detailing strengths - for instance if you had a term of poor grades as an undergraduate, you could emphasize the out-of-the-classroom learning you gained during that period, such as leadership skills developed by captaining the school debate team to victory in a competition. Different applicants will have different things to write about here, and some may have none at all.

Both a) and b) should be obvious elements of your essay, as both are mentioned in the question itself. However, if as the cover letter instructions note, you are to write a letter seeking a place in MIT's MBA program, then more could be included in this letter, such as why you are looking for an MBA, what you hope to achieve there, how it connects to your future, and why MIT is the best choice for you.  Let's break down this additional elements:

c) why you want an MBA

Why do you need a graduate business school education? What do you need to learn, and what kind of experiences do you hope to have during the program?

d) why MIT is the best place for you to get that MBA

Offer 2-3 clear examples that show MIT Sloan is the right place for you to spend the next two years.  Be specific!

e) what you will do with the MBA in the future

Offer some detail on your short/long term goals. Note that this does not need to be very long or overly detailed, but instead should simply show the direction you aim to go in and the kind of impact you wish to have on your organization, industry, or the world. If you were to ask an MIT admissions staff member, they might say they are not interested in your goals at all - and that they are more interested in evaluating your potential just by examining closely recent examples of how you make decisions and react to situations (hence their essay questions and specific instructions that they be well detailed, and also from episodes that have occurred recently). But, goals can serve well to tie an application together, and show strong connections between your background, MBA learning needs, and future potential as a leader, innovator or entrepreneur.

f) how you can contribute to your future classmates

One clear and specific example of what you have to offer to a particular course or extra-curricular to serve to finish your letter on a high point and show that you'll do more than just benefit from the experience at MIT Sloan.

2) Design

I have told people in the past that three things are important here, in order of difficulty from easiest to most challenging:

a) the Cover Letter should look like a letter.

A letter is addressed to someone, and is written to them as well. It is customary to put the recipient's address at the top, and to address the letter to them as well. You should also sign off (sincerely, with respect, etc.) and put your name at the bottom of the letter.

b) It is written to a person, so it should feel personal.

Don't simply cut and paste your goals essay from another school here. Instead, write a personal letter from you to Mr. Garcia. Did you have the chance to meet with him during a campus visit, for instance? If so, you could refer to a take-away or moment from that meeting somewhere in your letter.

c) it should be memorable.

Not all, but certainly many of the effective cover letters I have seen have a hook, or anecdote, or something that make them memorable and stand out from the rest. For some this is simply having a memorable accomplishment with a truly clear and impressive impact.  For others it is the strength of their background or the clarity of their vision and the directness of their reasons for studying at MIT. In some cases applicants have been able to start off their letter with a memorable episode or unique and unforgettable introduction of who they are and their personal passions. Whatever the case, you should strive for this in your own letter.  When you are done, it should feel like it came from you, and like it is introducing who you are and why you are passionate about spending two years contributing as an active student at MIT.

3) Word Limitation

Do not write a 3,000 word essay and then expect someone else to magically trim it into 500 words. Instead, you need to be very selective as to what to be included.  So make tough decisions (and/or get a second opinion) so that you are including in your cover letter only those contents that are most necessary, most appealing and most memorable about you. It is possible to touch upon multiple subjects in a short essay - you just need to be very direct and not wordy, and you need to be comfortable removing parts not completely essential to the theme you have established. 


"We are interested in learning more about how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years. In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did."

Essay 1: Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group of your idea. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)


Describing in detail what you thought, felt, said and did means you'll likely be describing a conversation or specific meeting, rather than a process spanning three months. In other words, try to show through one concrete example how you employed an effective strategy to get someone (or a group of people) to believe in your idea. What was the idea, and why was it important? Why did you believe in it, and what were the obstacles revenging others from seeing it the same way you did? What was the result? Were you right? Be clear about the impact you had on our organization as the result of convincing others to accept your idea. Do not just state that your first approach failed so you repeated it again and again until others gave up and saw your way. Finally, do choose a recent (within 3 years) episode.

Essay 2: Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)


A personal setback will be for many a non-work topic, although it is possible to have a personal setback that has implications for both your job as well as your life outside of your job. Consider the balance between work and non-work topics across your entire application as you consider what kind of a topic will work best here.  

The Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary defines a setback as a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely. I like this definition, as it shows clearly the difference between a setback and a failure - where a milestone is not achieved, or a product not shipped. This is different - a setback hampers progress or otherwise is an issue or problem to be dealt with (hopefully) on the road to success.  

Be clear about the situation - was this losing three volunteers from your team before a key event you were organizing? Perhaps you set up a company and were struggling to gain enough customers. Whatever the case, show that you reflected, learned, and reacted positively to the situation. Perhaps you changed approach or reworked your methods as a result of this situation. Maybe this was a reflective process where you could grow as an individual by learning how to overcome a weakness. Be clear about what action you took to turn the situation around, and also be clear about the ultimate result. Why was it important to you, and those around you as well?

Supplemental essay: The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us or your future classmates to know about you. This may be in written or multimedia format. Please do not use Flash Media Player, and include a URL where it can be accessed online. Written essays should be 300 words or fewer.


I have divided my analysis into two parts, content and format.


When deciding what to write here, again consider balance across your entire application.  It is best to not use this space to repeat a message that is already clearly laid out elsewhere in your application. Instead, you could use this space to explain why you are passionate about something you have dedicated your non-working time to, or to emphasize additional ways in which you could be a contributing student to your future classmates at Sloan. 


While most people will probably submit an essay, this doesn't mean that you have to or should. The instructions allow for a range of response types - so carefully consider which may be best for you, depending on what you aim to show with this essay. Aim to have a strong impact, and at the same time don't be afraid to be creative in how you choose to design your message. Finally, I'd strongly encourage you to show your final work to others, and get feedback from them, just to ensure the message you are aiming to give is coming across effectively.

John Couke

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Virginia Darden Releases 2012-13 MBA Application Season Essay Question

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia released their 2012-13 application season essay prompt recently via their Darden Admissions & MBA Blog.

Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. How did this experience change your perspective? (500 words maximum)

There is only one essay question to answer, however in years past Darden has also included a few essay-like questions in their application.  They likely will do so again this year, so applicants will have to wait until the application is released to know how much they can write, and in response to what questions.

As always, be sure to check their official admissions pages to confirm all information.

John Couke

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Michigan Ross 2012-13 Application Season MBA Deadlines and Essay Questions

Here are the application deadlines and essay prompts for the University of Michigan Ross School of Business application for the 2012-13 admissions season.


Round 1:
Deadline - 10/10/2012
Decision - 1/15/2013

Round 2:

Deadline - 1/3/2013
Decision - 3/15/2013

Round 3:

Deadline - 3/4/2013
Decision - 5/15/2013


1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less. 
2.  Describe your career goals.  How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those 
goals?  (300 word maximum)
3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed.  What did you learn about yourself from that experience?  (500 word maximum) 
4. What are you most passionate about and why?  How will this passion positively impact Ross? (300 word maximum)
5. Optional question:  Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?  (500 word maximum)

Please be sure to confirm all information directly at Michigan's admissions website.  Here are the deadlines and here are the essay questions.

John Couke

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wharton 2012-13 MBA Essay Analysis

What follows is my commentary and analysis on the Wharton MBA essay questions for applying to the program stating in the fall of 2013.

Required Question:

How will Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)

This is a typical goals essay, where you want to include detail about a) your current work and skill-set b) your short and long-term career objectives, c) a brief assessment of what skills or experiences you need to gain to achieve those goals and d) specific reasons why Wharton is the best place for you to gain those skills or experiences. 

For the past few years it has been difficult to find space in the Wharton essay set to write about why you want to go to this particular school. However, with this new why Wharton question, admissions seems interested in learning once again why you are attracted to their school, so be as specific in possible in addressing this last part of the question.

Respond to 2 of the Following 3 Questions:

1. Select a Wharton MBA course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (500 words)

After completing the required question above, most applicants will have already shared a few specific examples as to why they are attracted to Wharton. Those who choose this question will then instead probably focus on one of their personal interests, rather than on why they are interested in Wharton, as the subject of their answer.  This essay is a good opportunity to reveal a) one of your interests outside of work, b) the strengths and skills you have gained or demonstrate from participation in this activity, and c) why you are involved in this activity or have this interest. Addressing all 3 parts is a good way to introduce a bit about yourself.

Next, in terms of the Wharton course, co-curricular or extra-curricular activity, find something offered by the school that you are interested in and capable of contributing to.  How will your presence in this course or activity benefit the experience of your fellow Wharton students?  Moreover, don't forget to address why you are interested in it - how will your participation broaden or refine the interest you have in this area?  A good answer will emphasize both how you can develop from the experience, as well as how you can benefit your classmates too.

2. Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself "work free" for three hours, what would you do? (500 words)

This essay can be used to talk about a "personal passion" you are engaged in outside of work.  What do you love to do?  It is fine and natural to talk about heading to the community center to see if you can join a pick-up game of basketball, or going home early to figure out how to bake a cake that your wife and kids can eat after dinner that night. Whatever topic you choose, try to show how it demonstrates a part of your personality. Don't make the mistake in this essay of talking about your job.

3. "Knowledge for Action draws upon the great qualities that have always been evident at Wharton: rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership." - Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School   Tell us about a time when you put knowledge into action. (500 words)

An effective answer to this question will emphasize what you did, i.e. the putting into action part.  This is essentially a leadership question, where you should demonstrate a time when you were able to lead others to accomplish something of significance to your division, department, organization or industry. Be sure to describe the knowledge or research that led you to initiate this experience. Did you discover something about a customer need, or did you learn of a weakness in your company's strategy that needed to be addressed?  Add detail on the steps you took, the result, the significance of the result on those around you, and what you learned during the process.  

Additional Question for Reapplicants:

All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

If you were dinged in the past and are reapplying, hopefully you have been able to spend the year addressing and improving upon the part of your application that sass lacking the first time around.  Use this space to detail those improvements as well as what you have learned about yourself through the process.

Optional Section for all Applicants:

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)

Extenuating circumstances usually applies to something that may be considered a negative within your application. Use this space to explain it, but be carefully in your analysis to finish on an upbeat note - as the last essay in the set, it is always desirable to leave your reader with a strong message about what you can offer to the Wharton MBA.

These essays questions can be found at the Wharton MBA admissions official site here.  

John Couke

UC Berkeley Haas Announces MBA Essay Questions for 2012-13 Admissions Season

In a recent posting to their blog, the UC Berkeley Haas admissions team announced that they have released their essay questions for applicants to their MBA program starting in the fall of 2013.

The new essay topics include one about a song that expresses who you are, replacing their greatest joy essay from last year. Be sure to read the blog post to get some information about why they made this particular change (last year's prompt resulted in some over-thinking) as well as some general tips on the essays themselves.


At Berkeley-Haas, our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles — Question the status quo; Confidence without attitude; Students always; and Beyond yourself. We seek candidates from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and industries who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles. Please use the following essays as an opportunity to reflect on and share with us the values, experiences, and accomplishments that have helped shape who you are.(Learn more about Berkeley-Haas' Defining Principles).
  1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum)
  2. What is your most significant accomplishment? (250 word maximum)
  3. Describe a time when you questioned an established practice or thought within an organization. How did your actions create positive change? (250 word maximum)
  4. Describe a time when you were a student of your own failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (250 word maximum)
  5. a. What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals?
    b. How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (750 word maximum for 5a. and 5b.)

Supplemental Information:
  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain; otherwise, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community and professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Indicate the nature of the activity or organization, size of the organization, dates of involvement, offices held, and average number of hours spent per month.
  3. List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies, indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
  4. Please explain all gaps in your employment since earning your university degree.
  5. If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended, or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)

Optional Essays:
  1. (Optional) Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven't addressed elsewhere. (500 word maximum)
  2. (Optional) If not clearly evident, please discuss ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities, or plan to strengthen quantitative abilities. You do not need to list courses that appear on your transcript. (250 word maximum)

The application will be available in August.  Please double-check all essay questions within Berkeley's official admissions site here.

John Couke

Dartmouth Tuck Announces MBA Essay Questions for 2012-13 Admissions Season

In a recent posting to their admissions blog, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College released their essay questions for students applying to the program that starts in the fall of 2013.


Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. Compose each of your
answers offline in separate document files and upload them individually in the appropriate
spaces below. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay. There are no right or wrong answers.

Please double-space your responses.

Essay Questions:

1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA program for you, and what will you uniquely contribute to the community? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.)

2. Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

3. Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback. What actions did you take as a result and what did you learn from this experience?

4. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

5. (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

Please confirm all information directly at the school's own admissions website.

John Couke

John Couke or ジョン カウク

My family name is difficult to pronounce.  The English spelling - as if often the case - causes a lot of misdirection, and leads people to say things like "coke" or "kook".  The correct pronunciation is something more like a combination of the word "cow" and the "k" sound that comes at the end of "book".

Thankfully, in Japan the katakana character system is phonetic, and so once people here learn how to write my name using katakana characters, they pronounce it well.  In katakana my family name is written using these three characters: カウク.

So where does this name come from?  Apparently, the family name Couke goes back 8 generations in Canada, and 4 more generations before that in what is now North America. Prior to that, someone arrived in North America on a boat from somewhere else (probably in Europe). There are two ideas as to what happened next:

1) They used the opportunity of moving to a new country to change their name from whatever it actually was to Couke.
2) Off the boat, they were asked for their name, and while they said something like Louk or Locke or Louche or Couche, it was taken down incorrectly as Couke (it seems a lot of things were done by ear then).

Whatever the case, a new family name was born.

John Couke
(ジョン カウク)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mixing Responsibilities and Accomplishments in the Resume

This post is cross-posted in my new "Next Step Resumes" blog, that is focused on providing resume advice for people aiming for the next step (job or school) in their life.

I am often asked how to combine accomplishments with responsibilities in a well-organized and easy-to-read resume.

Accomplishments are the attention-grabbing and impactful things you have done. Describing your responsibilities, on the other hand, helps to make the nature and scope of your job clear. 

Describing Responsibility:

Let's use a management consulting position as an example. In this case, the job description is obvious, something like "provide management consulting to clients".  This information is not necessary on your resume.  But detailing the nature of clients, for instance, could be more useful, and add a new layer of detail: "responsible for planning strategy for automotive supply companies; specialize in cross-border acquisition cases".  In this case, the explanation of the responsibility that comes with this particular job serves to add detail and focus. So, thus far we have this information ready for the resume:

Management ConsultantResponsible for planning strategy for domestic heavy equipment and automotive manufacturers; specialize in cross-border acquisition cases

Describing an Accomplishment:

This is the core of your resume.  In any job, you want to show the key accomplishments you have had that impacted your customers and organization.  This is the best way for you to represent what you have done, and provides the most effective basis for the reader of your resume to assess your career. Using the same management consulting example, our consultant may have helped a client purchase an overseas parts supplier:  "Led multinational team of 4 completing due diligence on target as key part of US$35M purchase of French automotive parts supplier". This would give us this:

Management Consultant
Responsible for planning strategy for domestic heavy equipment and automotive manufacturers; specialize in cross-border acquisition cases
  • Led multinational team of 4 completing due diligence on target as key part of US$35M purchase of French automotive parts supplier

The completed example leads with a title, and then offers a description (i.e. job responsibility) and then has accomplishments as bullet points.  This is one effective way to include both types of information on the resume.


1) Doesn't listing both responsibilities and accomplishments create too much overlap between the two?

Answer: It is natural for there to be some overlap, as your responsibilities should be connected to your accomplishments in some way. If you feel that the responsibility line is totally and completely redundant, obviously you can remove it, and just focus on the accomplishments.

2) Won't this method take up a lot of space on the resume?

Answer: It is most effective to list responsibility for recent positions, positions where the responsibility is important detail, or for positions in which the nature of the work may be unclear.  I'd recommend not listing detailed responsibility for older positions, especially starting positions.  If you were a "Junior Marketing Analyst" 5 or 6 years ago, for instance, I think the responsibility description would be less necessary, although the accomplishments would still be important.

John Couke