Posts by Lisa
When you apply to business school, you may find yourself facing this age-old problem: how do I make my CV stand out from the competition? In 2014, our colleague Jamie Wright from the Early Career Programmes Team shared her views on how to write a winning CV which included keeping it concise, current, accurate, and gap-free. In this companion piece, let’s look at more tips helping you create a lasting impact on your readers, the Admissions Committee members.
1. It’s also about ‘THEM’
Logic dictates that a CV would be ‘all about you’ but it’s not quite so simple. Remember that CVs are written for someone else to read so you want to take into consideration your audience’s needs and the kind of information your reader wants to find.
Member of the Admissions Committee will ask themselves:
. Are you a capable student? Do you have the academics, skills, and knowledge needed to cope with the programme?
. Will you be a successful student? Will you have the right drive to get results? Are you providing evidence of taking positions of responsibility? Are you motivated to do well?
. Will you fit in? Are you well-rounded? Are you showcasing activities that will make you a contributing team member? Do you come across as genuine?
Thinking first of your readers’ expectations will help you tailor your messaging more effectively.
2. It’s about RELEVANCE
The recruiter’s perspective is that many CVs and cover letters appear mass-produced and generic: “Students need to include information that helps to differentiate them and demonstrates their motivation.” Every CV you send should be individually tailored to its audience.
My advice is to write up a full list of all of your projects, skills, and experiences on a blueprint CV. Use this list to pick and choose which elements should feature more prominently on your final iteration (without creating time gaps or omitting important information).
Do decide which achievements are truly significant to your audience.
Is a swimming competition won as a child crucially important information? You may want to highlight more recent examples of success instead. Could a three-month, stellar extra-curricular project previously omitted from your CV actually be of interest? Always showcase your more pertinent experiences.
Universally in-demand skills, such as analytical, inter-personal, teamwork, leadership, and creativity skills should always be featured. Once you’ve assessed what the audience needs to hear, add more relevant elements based on the specific soft skills, hard knowledge, technical aptitude, and commercial awareness you possess.
Do provide actual evidence and examples. It’s never enough to say “I am a good communicator, I am a leader” on your CV; let your achievements speak for themselves instead. You want to highlight specific projects or internships within your sector of interest, examples of challenges or risks undertaken, international exposure gained, languages spoken, etc.
3. It’s about CLARITY
Did you know that many employers use scanning software to ‘read’ CVs because they receive so many applications that using human eyes would be counter-productive? Recruiters told us the “best applications are structured and succinct.” This applies to business school applications as well. Your CV should be easy to read at a quick glance to capture our human attention and keywords and achievements should pop from the page.
To achieve this, you should:
Feature measurable achievements and quantify experience: use amounts or percentages to establish targets and assess results. “Designed a social media campaign which helped increase our customer base by 8% over three months” is more effective in demonstrating accomplishments than “participated in a social media project.”
Use ‘action verbs’ to showcase your personal contributions. Don’t forget to highlight your own input, initiatives, and innovations. What did you increase, decrease, implement, produce, report, create, support or develop?Simply emphasise YOUR genuine added value and don’t just copy/paste the job description of your internship.
Keep the timeline easy to follow and the layout clean. Do use reverse chronological order (most recent first) in all sections, explain any time gaps, and give your exact internships dates. Saying you interned at Google in ‘July 2015’ is unclear: were you there for one, two, three weeks? At this level in your career, how much time has been spent in these experiences is important information. Do keep the CV layout simple: avoid photos (not needed in the UK), logos, links, and tables. Finally, do spell-check everything, from the name of your university to your email address.
Remember that your CV directly represents you as a successful student and an aspiring young professional so taking good care into crafting it will impress your audience.
Happy writing and we look forward to reading your impactful CVs!
If you are interested in joining the class of MiM2015 starting this September, don’t forget that our closing application deadline for the year is May 31st, 2014.
Please note that you can still submit by the deadline if your application is fully ready but only missing one element, such as your GMAT/GRE or one reference. The application will then be put on hold and reviewed once complete. Missing documents will need to be received within a maximum of two weeks from your application submission.
If you are contemplating submitting your application past this deadline, and particularly if you have not yet taken your GMAT or GRE or would require a visa to study in the UK, please contact us directly at email@example.com to discuss your individual case.
Don’t hesitate to look back at previous entries on this blog in order to get final tips about preparing your application and don’t forget to reach out to our Student Ambassadors http://www.london.edu/programmes/msc/studentambassadors.html in order to benefit from their insights into the programme.
We will look forward to receiving your application!
I recently had the chance to travel once again around India as it is one of the areas I cover in my Recruitment and Admissions role. I had been to quite a few countries in Asia before but this was only my second time visiting India – and my first trip to vibrant Mumbai.
My time in India has had a big impact on me – a fascinating country both anchored in the past and so rapidly ever-changing. I can confess to have fallen in love with Rajasthan. The ‘Land of Kings’ does seep into your thoughts and will stay with you for a long while, like a shimmery friend full of bright colours, honking sounds mixing with the permeating fragrance of spices in the air. Rajasthani women in their luminous orange saris, luscious green fields, brightly decorated lorries weaving in in crazy traffic, and opalescent marble temples – the state is a feast for the eyes. I’ve been impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the people I’ve met and also by the diversity of cultures I uncovered.
Having to share my Indian adventures with friends, family, and colleagues back home made me reflect on what I thought I knew about the country and the glimpses of truth I discovered in my travels. Some were cliché, some were true: Indian food is delicious and not always spicy! I had to ask myself: when do local customs become stereotypes? Can preconceptions turn into prejudice? How do you reconcile assumptions with reality?
Being confronted to another reality that happily co-exist with yours – especially if you have not spent a lot of time away from what’s familiar to you – can be a daunting and exciting experience. At LBS, you will be meeting people from countries you’ve barely heard of, people with distinct history and stories, different patterns of behaviour, and unique views on life. And guess what: they are just like you! Embracing those differences (or unexpected similarities!) is what makes being part of our LBS community so challenging and interesting.
As you may be applying to join the School, do reflect on the experiences you’ve had in a multicultural situations or in a diverse team. What did you enjoy about them? What were the challenges? What have you learned that will now help you thrive in an international context? For those of you who don’t have a lot of experience in a diverse environment, how would you approach it?
Here are a few tips on how you could make the most of our diversity as a student of London Business School:
. Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
We all love to talk about ourselves and what we know well. Your classmates here will be happy to share their unique stories and expect the same of you. Understanding why people do things or think the way they do is a first step towards effective collaboration, both in your personal and professional life.
. Embrace ‘new ways’
The LBS campus is a safe knowledge hub. Solving a well-known problem in an untested way and trusting someone else to ‘know best’ is part of our learning experience here. Take a risk! If you’re not interested in other ways of thinking, you’re in the wrong place.
. Don’t lose yourself!
No one is asking you to forget your own (amazing) culture and customs. Others should be as respectful of you as you are of them. Tattoo, our international cultural event in February truly showcases our student body in its full diversity through rich cuisine, expert (and at times silly) dance moves, and incredibly catchy music!
During my travels around ‘Incredible India’, I just had to keeping eyes and mind open, trust my instincts but also acknowledge my own preconceptions in order to find balance. Letting it all sink in without trying to over-explain it was my way to immerse myself in such a rich country. I did want to learn more after my travels so I have been reading books about traditional customs and history, notably about New Delhi, which I adore. Now, I have to make peace with the fact that I’ve barely scratched the surface of this immense country and look forward to my next visit!
Hello again everyone!
You’ve now decided to apply to the MiM programme and are carefully considering all the documents required in order to submit you best application. References, while they may seem an afterthought compared to the GMAT or your essays, as an integral part of the process – they can truly make or break an application. What impress us are honest, to-the-point, and genuine references.
Here are a few tips to make sure that your references have a positive impact on your application:
1. What are references for?
References are a window into how experienced individuals see you, in an academic, professional or extra-curricular setting. They allow us to understand how well you have built your network so far, how you are perceived in a variety of situations, and the potential that others see in you.
2. Choose your referees very carefully.
It would seem logical to do so but we often read references from professors who barely know you (and have nothing insightful to say) or from people you knew a long time ago and whose opinions are not relevant to the person you are anymore.
Ideally, you will have one academic reference from a professor who knows you well and one other from an internship supervisor or the manager of a charity / arts / sports association you work with. Two academic references are perfectly acceptable as well but if you’ve had four internships, we may wonder how well your professional network has been maintained.
If your referee is an alumnus or alumna of the School, they can of course mention it. Please note that if you have two other referees already, alumni (and current students too) can also recommend you separately – do tell them to contact us directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Who should I not approach?
If you have attended only one of his/her course three years ago, this professor might not be the best judge of character when you are concerned.
If your work experience has mostly taken place in the family business then reach out to a supplier or a client – family members are a big no-no!
If you have only met the CEO of your internship company once in a corridor then it is much better to ask your close supervisor instead. Big names and titles won’t impress us if they have nothing to say about you.
If your referee of choice doesn’t speak (enough) English, chose someone else who does.
4. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, write your own references.
The value of references lies in their confidentiality. Sadly, we have caught many candidates cheating on their references which can lead to an immediate rejection of the application. The truth is that if you write your own references… we will find out. There are many ways to double check the validity of references and our savvy reviewers are expert at identifying ‘dodgy’ ones. Sometimes, busy referees may ask you to write the reference for them – don’t give in! Ask yourself this: if they are not willing to take the time to do this for you, are they really the person you want to use as a referee?
5. What’s next?
Once you have selected your referees, do contact them to ask for their support and let them know to expect an email from us including a link to a short form they will have to fill by themselves. Please do tell them to use their professional email address for verification purposes.
If you chose to send them an updated CV, please do remind them to not simply cut and paste information from the CV which is redundant. You may also want to send them a link to the MiM website so they are aware of which programme and school you are applying to.
We’ve read many fantastic reviews over the years that have truly helped us to understand our candidates in a new and improved light. We hope that your referees will achieve this for you!
We wish you all the best in selecting your referees and hope to read more about you very soon.
Hello to all and welcome to our final session on effective communications.
We truly love to travel in the MiM Team and meeting some of you at events around the world is always a treat. Similarly, you may be passing by London and want to visit campus and meet with us. You want to make the most of these opportunities.
Here are a few tips to consider when networking in-person with your Admissions Team:
1. Do come to visit but don’t turn up unannounced
Visiting campus is an important part of the process of choosing your graduate school. You get a sense of the place, see the hustle and bustle, and try to imagine yourself there; would you fit in? Do you see yourself spending a year there?
We do encourage you to come and meet us if you are able to do so – you can find our events calendar here. As a reminder, we host weekly Drop-In sessions on Fridays at 2pm and hold regular evening events. Unfortunately, due to logistics and high demand, we are not able to meet with individual candidates outside of these scheduled events. While we wish we were able to meet with all of you, please remember that we are a small team, with meetings, interviews, and various projects filling our busy days.
2. Do find the balance between ‘listening’ and ‘selling’
You’re about to attend a student fair, an Information Session, a Drop-In… great! You will be able to speak with us and possibly with one of our Student Ambassadors or Alumni as well.
How should you approach us? What should you talk about? Networking with your Admissions Team is finding the right balance between ‘selling yourself’ as a candidate and getting answers to the burning questions you have about the programme.
Before meeting with us, do your homework and research the programme. That way, you will have prepared specific, relevant questions instead of asking how long the programme is or where the School is located – yes, we’ve heard these before! Your questions will reveal almost as much about yourself as any ‘selling’ effort would.
That said, do prepare an informal personal ‘pitch’. In order for us to answer your questions better, we need to know a little bit about you. You should be able to tell us where you are from, what you are studying and why you are interested in the programme in under a minute.
Here is an example of a good introductory ‘pitch’:
Hi, I’m Alan from Austria and I’m studying Economics at UCL. I’m happy to be here tonight because I wanted to ask you about your new electives. I’m interested in the energy sector: is that something the MiM covers?
3. Showcase your best ‘Personal Brand’
It’s been reported that over 90% of our communication is non-verbal, based on gestures and subtle (or very obvious!) facial expressions. The way you interact with us is our first window into your ‘Personal Brand’.
We are a friendly bunch and we love personal interactions so don’t hesitate to approach us. It’s great if you do that with self-confidence but don’t be pushy. Be aware of your own body language – and that of your interlocutor. A handshake (when appropriate) and a smile can go a long way. Keep good eye contact and mind your personal space and cultural differences.
Do listen carefully to our answers to your questions: you may pick up useful information to enrich your application or interview.
At certain busy events, a lot of people need our attention and will want to network with us. We will endeavour to answer all of your questions but we will also need to speak with other candidates: don’t forget to also network with the alumni and students in attendance.
A few final tips:
. Make sure you have signed up for the event or registered on the day – if you haven’t we won’t be able to contact you again in the future.
. Dress appropriately – we won’t expect business dress but at least business-casual or smart-casual. First impressions do matter.
. If you have a business card, do bring it and use it! We need to be able to remember you. Don’t forget to ask for our business card in return.
. Be confident. Be polite. Be yourself!
. Finally, always follow-up with a ‘thank you’ email so you can keep the conversation going.
Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of our series on ‘How to Manage Communications with your Admissions Team’.
In this day and age, many of us prefer to stay comfortably hidden behind our computer screens for most of our professional interactions. But that’s not the case for all cultures around the world. Can you really hear the subtlety of a tone of voice or have the pleasure of a sharp debate by email? When we hear a candidate’s voice, it brings him or her to life. Sometimes, it’s really worth picking up the good old phone.
If you are thinking of calling us with a query, here are a few tips to consider:
. When do you actually need to ring us?
Sometimes, it’s quicker to call when you need a fast answer to an important question which is not answered elsewhere, when you have multiple questions or when a highly sensitive, difficult or personal question might require more than a one-line email answer. To me, a phone call get things done – they are immediate and the receiver of the call will feel obliged to help.
Before you ring us though, do ask yourself: is the answer to your question already on the website or in a previous email exchange? Could the nature of your question be frustrating to the person on the other side of the receiver? Are you calling us from the other side of the world and could this call be quite costly to you?
. Do introduce yourself well and set the focus of your call.
Here is the transcript of a very common phone call in our office:
- “Masters in Management, Lisa speaking. How can I help you today?”
- “Hi. – pause – I’m calling from Antarctica. – very long pause – “
- “Okay… How can I help you then?”
- “Can you tell me about your Masters in Management?”
- “What exactly would you like to know?”
- “Hum… uh…”
This awkward conversation starter happens quite often. We can tell the caller is uncomfortable and it makes us feel the same way since we don’t really know why you are calling. Plus, what is the right answer to ‘I’m calling from xx country’? The question asked is too vague: we already suspected you wanted to talk about the MiM but what do you actually need to know? We’re only a minute into the conversation and the caller feels frustrated while we have not progressed in the conversation.
> Instead, think about introducing yourself in a useful and concise manner. If a stranger was phoning you, what would you expect to hear from him or her in order to carry on with the call?
> Do prepare your questions in advance; write them down beforehand if it helps you keep focus. You can never go wrong with a bit of preparation. Do explain your query clearly and even if you have more questions popping into your brain at rapid fire speed, don’t interrupt your interlocutor mid-answer.
> Feel confident in your own communications skills – there is no trick here! Being able to carry an efficient discussion over the phone will serve you well in your business career – not everyone you will work with will be receptive to texts or emails. We do enjoy phone conversations in the office and they should also be enjoyable to you.
Here is how this conversation should have gone:
- “Masters in Management, Lisa speaking. How can I help you today?”
- “Good morning. Who am I speaking to?
- “This is Lisa here; I’m a Recruitment and Admissions Manager for the Masters in Management at London Business School.”
- “Hi Lisa, my name is ‘Alan’ and I’m calling to discuss the GMAT requirement for the Masters in Management. Is now a good time to talk?”
- “Of course. Go ahead, Tell me first, have you taken the test already?”
- “Yes but I’m not sure my score is competitive enough. I saw on your website the minimum requirement is 600 but the average is 689. I’ve got a 650; is that good enough to apply or should I re-take the test?”
- “Okay, let’s discuss this in more depth. …”
‘Alan’ introduced himself in a polite manner, stating his purpose, and engaging the conversation where he needs it to go. I asked him a clarifying question which he answered precisely and the conversation was off to a good start! It is also perfectly acceptable to ask us who you are speaking with – it will help you re-connect with the relevant person should you do any follow-up calls or emails.
. Smile, you’re on the phone!
Maybe you are not really used to making professional phone calls or you feel nervous at the idea of talking to someone from the London Business School Admissions Team. Don’t worry; we love talking about the programme and will be delighted to hear your voice!
Phone calls do create a special connection between caller and receiver which impersonal emails cannot emulate so don’t forget to smile! It has been said that you can ‘hear’ someone’s mood over the phone and it’s true. The physical act of smiling will influence your voice and tone. If you are keen on the programme and have the confidence to get in touch with us, we’ll hear it.
. Think about the timing of your call
Asking if ‘now is a good time to talk’ is always useful. It allows the receiver of the call to make sure they have ample time to dedicate to your queries and won’t need to cut your call short because they have to run into a meeting. Be aware of UK office opening times – we will not be able to pick up the phone on a Friday at 8pm but you are very welcome to leave a message on our answering machine which brings me to my next point.
. Please leave a message after the beeeeeep.
If you leave a message on our voice-mail, don’t forget to tell us your name and how we can reach you back in the clearest manner possible. You might think we never acknowledged your message but maybe the line was bad and we could not hear your phone number very clearly so we could not call you back.
. Can someone else call on your behalf?
Do bear in mind that we are not at liberty to discuss your application with a third party and are not allowed to divulge any application decision over the phone. We do want to hear your voice – don’t hesitate to ring us yourself.
Most of these tips are common sense of course but do serve as a good reminder that all points of contact with the Admissions Team can have an impact on your potential application and you always want this impact to be positive.
Thanks for reading and please do revisit this blog in the next few weeks for part three of our series giving you more tips on how to make the most of your in-person meetings with the Recruitment and Admissions Team.
“What a lovely candidate! I can’t wait to meet them,” can often be heard out loud around our Recruitment and Admissions Office. Spontaneous reactions like this always bring up a smile – there’s nothing more exciting than interacting with a candidate who “fits the bill.” Unfortunately, tales of rude, demanding or inappropriate behaviour exhibited at times by applicants are sometimes shared too – and more often than you might think. This is not however the first impression YOU want to make.
Whether you reach out to us by email, over the phone, or in person – all these points of contact will be recorded and added to your file for future reference. It’s not a myth: the way you communicate with us, the team involved in your selection into one of our degree programmes, will have an impact on the future of your application.
So how can you impress the Recruitment and Admissions Team when emailing them with an enquiry?
- Do your research – only reach out to the team when you need a specific answer to a question pertaining to your own individual case. If you can find the answer to this question on our website, should you contact us in the first place? Wasn’t your query already answered at some point in your long email chain? Use your judgement: how many emails are too many?
- Do use an appropriate business communication style, keeping it ‘short and sweet’, and make good use of your spell-check. Emails often are your first point of contact with our teams and should showcase professionalism and confident English skills. You do not want to be that guy or gal who’s sent us a curt one-liner, addressed us with the wrong school name, or worse, copied in a handful of very different schools in the same enquiry email.
- Be kind and polite. Do ask yourself: could the Admissions Assistant emailing me to chase a missing document influence the Admissions Committee? Asking for help nicely and expressing gratitude should take you a long way.
- Be patient! Our teams receive an enormous amount of enquiries and it may take a few days to answer them all. Calling us Monday morning asking why you didn’t receive an answer to an email sent on Friday at 6pm will not be very helpful. Similarly, do avoid sending blanket emails to the entire team with the same query – all programmes have a dedicated email address which should be used to ensure a swift reply to any query.
- Be positive and enthusiastic when writing your query. If you are keen to engage with us, we will also be happy to engage with you.
Even through a simple email, you will want to articulate your interest into the programme of your choice in a professional way but also offer a genuine insight into your personality. Ultimately, do trust your instinct to find the right balance.
Please do revisit this blog in the next few weeks for more tips on how to handle phone enquiries and in-person meetings with your Recruitment and Admissions Team.