If you want to secure a coveted spot at a high-quality institution for studying toward an MBA degree, you will need to write a strong CV to go with your application. As universities want to select the most motivated students who are most likely to succeed in and after their program, applications are reviewed meticulously. This is no different in Japan, where obtaining an MBA from a program in English can provide you with a great head start in the world of international business in Japan. But the good news is that it is much easier to get past the balloting committee if you know what they are looking for in applicants’ CVs.
Why an MBA in Japan?
First, let’s go over the reasons why you should consider doing an MBA in Japan. After all, there are so many great MBA programs in countries like the US, England, and Australia, so why should you opt for Japan instead? Of course, whether choosing to do your MBA in Japan is a good option for you depends on your career aspirations. If you are thinking about working for companies that do business in or with Japan, it is a big plus if you’ve done an MBA in Japan. You will bring insider knowledge on Japanese business culture to the table that can make you a great fit for a position where you must interact with your Japanese counterparts. It goes without saying that if you are looking to find employment in Japan, having an MBA from a highly regarded institution will give you a great head start on your job search.
Furthermore, the potential for a (much) higher salary than average is one of the main reasons for many students to go for an MBA degree. Japan was ranked 9th in the world for MBA graduate salaries partly due to the bonus culture that exists here. Having obtained your degree in Japan will give you a great competitive edge when you are applying for jobs in the country, as you will not only have the advantage of your alumni network but you will also have up-to-date knowledge about the Japanese as well as the international market that can benefit employers.
Application Process for an MBA in Japan
As nearly all prospective students for MBA degrees are mid-career professionals, schools look at applicants’ work history as much as at their motivation. The minimum requirements to be considered for an MBA spot are a Bachelor’s Degree plus at least 2 years of full-time work experience. You will also need to have a satisfactory score on either the GMAT or GRE exam to prove your general aptitude for business studies. If English isn’t your native language, having passed the TOEFL or IELTS can help. The rest of your application will consist of an essay and your CV.
After you submit all required documents to the university’s admissions office, you will hear whether you will move on to the (online) interview round within a few weeks after the deadline closes. Then, you will know within 2-3 weeks whether you are accepted into the program or not. If you’d have special needs for the application process, most universities will be able to accommodate them as long as you let them know at least 2 months before the start of the application period.
CV Tips for Your MBA Application
Now, let’s go over what makes a CV great for an MBA application. Most universities will have a format, so the challenging part isn’t figuring out what information to give and how to format it, but how you share your employment and education history in the most compelling way. Don’t forget you are marketing yourself, and that it is important to highlight your accomplishments for the reader. If you follow these tips, you will make the most out of your history:
- Keep it short and simple; many applicants tend to write long descriptions because they are afraid to leave things out, but you should keep in mind that admissions officers have limited time to review CVs and prefer short descriptions that are to the point. Make it easy for the reader to find the points that are most important and that you want them to know about you. Choose only a few highlights for each position you held that show your positive contribution to the company. If you only have one work experience until now, you can choose to be a bit more elaborate in your description.
- Description of job responsibilities; highlight and quantify your achievements, and make your leadership, initiative, and interpersonal skills stand out. Make a list of tasks and instances where these achievements and skills stand out, and then choose the 3 or 4 that best demonstrate them with the numbers to prove it.
- Write using ‘active language’; if you write about your accomplishments using active language, they are much more likely to stand out and make the reader feel that you are a strong candidate. Using ‘power words’ will also help you reach that goal. For example, instead of ‘I was a part of the works council’ you should write ‘Selected, based on a popular vote with 7 candidates, to sit in the company’s works council as a vice-president’. In this case, giving details like this will highlight your achievement.
- Provide context if necessary; as an international applicant, it is good to keep in mind that admissions officers in Japan may not know the company you worked for or even the job function if it is more country-specific. In this case, provide a bit of information about the company or job content to make it easier for them to put your experience in context. For example, you can mention the number of employees of the company.
- Notify references; make sure that all references that you mention are aware that they can expect a call or email within the next few weeks or months, and that they know what it will be about. Just send them a short email asking them how they are doing, and mentioning that their information was shared for a reference.
Don’t Forget to Add Your Extracurriculars
Especially if you don’t yet have a 20-year long career behind you, extracurriculars can tell an admission officer a lot more about who you are and what your values are. A great applicant will have extracurricular activities on their CV that show how they like to be involved in the community or how they like to interact with peers through, for example, sports. For some people, the challenge will be to find something to mention here as they might not have many extracurricular activities in their past, and for others, it will be a matter of choosing the best ones to mention.
Here are a few good extracurriculars to mention on a CV for an MBA application if you need some inspiration:
- Relevant part-time work after school
- Unusual travel experiences
- Volunteer work or internships
- (Sports) clubs
Just like with your work experience, if you have any additions that indicate how you are well-rounded and have shown leadership, it is a good idea to add that to the description. In general, the longer you have done these activities, the better they will look on your resume. So if you need to choose, it is recommendable to pick the ones that you have done for prolonged periods.