You’ve got a Harvard MBA?
Congratulations! I can’t imagine a better academic credential in business.
I’ve repackaged, rebranded, and rewritten resumes for over 1200 executives.
Roughly 1/3 of my clients tout MBAs from top schools like Harvard and – almost always – it’s a great career asset.
What could possibly go wrong?
TWO SCENARIOS FOR THE HARVARD MBA RESUME
Here are two scenarios where “Harvard Business School” – or Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, any Ivy school, take your pick – can actually work against you.
- Scenario #1, a “Real” Ivy MBA: It’s always a great credential, but an Ivy MBA raises the bar for your resume. In other words, an MBA from a top school raises expectations. A Harvard MBA resume whets the reviewer’s appetite for great things at a “masters of the universe level.”If you do not show great results for employers (or your clients or investors), your Harvard MBA makes your resume look like a dud – in other words, you’ll look like a great student, but not a great “doer.”
- Scenario #2, a “Fake” Ivy MBA: Sometimes, a person with a valid MBA from a perfectly good school (Podunk University) will attempt to trick the reviewer into thinking “this person graduated from Harvard.” How? Bury your “real” education under an avalanche of two-week seminars from top schools. Bad idea!I frequently see this gambit on LinkedIn (see example below). An experienced reviewer – recruiter or hiring manager – can X-ray this ruse in milliseconds. Trying to fake an Ivy MBA damages your credibility and makes you look desperate for attention.
Better idea: show hard results for employers.
SAME SOLUTION FOR BOTH SCENARIOS: FOCUS ON RESULTS
In my experience, resumes break down as follows: 10% are off-the-charts horrible, 10% are pretty good (maybe great), and 80% land somewhere in the “average” middle – they’re not horrible, but not strong enough to instantly command an interview. This 10/10/80 rule applies across the board – from basic education to Ivy MBA.
The solution – no matter what your education – is to show hard results for employers. A close second is “third-party validation” (for example, patents, industry awards, or favorable citations in the business media).
If you’ve earned an elite MBA – Harvard, Wharton, wherever – AND your resume shows hard results for employers, then you are probably unbeatable. If your resume shows weak results, all bets are off – your Ivy MBA raises the bar, so expectations are much higher for you.
Almost always, real brains and real talent and real results will trump education – does not matter if you’re a Harvard MBA or a proud graduate of Podunk Community College. You might find this hard to believe – especially if you’re desperate for a new job – but you do NOT need an elite education to stand out in a good way.
EXAMPLE #1: A REAL MBA BUT A WEAKLY STATED RESULT
EXAMPLE #2: THE “FAKE MBA” – DON’T DO THIS – CREDIBILITY KILLER !