If you want to advance your career in the business world, you are going to want to obtain an MBA. Here are steps you can take to ensure your application stands-out.

1: Give Yourself Time to Explore MBA Programs

Each MBA program is built a little differently. Each school has its own focus, professors, and special activities that make your educational experience unique. It is a good idea to spend time visiting and learning about programs before you choose which ones you want to apply for. You don't want to send out twenty applications; you want to apply to a handful of programs you feel would be a great fit for you.

2: Apply for the Earliest Deadline

Many business school programs offer various deadlines for admissions. If you really want to get into a school, you should apply during either the first or second round of admission to increase your chances of getting in.

You also have a higher chance of getting a scholarship to fund your MBA education if you apply in the first two rounds. Most programs award scholarships as they accept applicants, so if you wait until the last deadline, your chance of getting a scholarship, even if you qualify for one, decreases.

Also, by applying for the earliest deadline, you demonstrate that you really want to get into the school. You also demonstrate your preparedness by having all application elements ready.

3: Study for the GMAT/GRE

You will need to submit GMAT/GRE scores to the schools you apply for regardless of how long you have been out of school. Take your time to study for the test and take the test far in advance of the admission application deadline so you can take it more than once if needed.

4: Think Carefully About Your References

Most MBA programs require you to submit letters of recommendation or professional references. When you choose the people who will submit these professional letters of recommendation, choose them wisely. You want the people you choose to be those who really know you in either an academic or professional setting.

You want to choose people who can speak directly to your skillset, accomplishments, and work ethic in their recommendation. Choose people who have worked with you and can vouch for you. Don't worry about their prestige of the title of the people you ask for recommendations; choose people based on their ability to write a reference that reflects well on you as a person.

5: Refine Your Resume

You are going to want to refine your resume. It should highlight your education and what you participated in while in school. Your resume should also highlight your professional experience.

Make sure your resume shows the leadership roles you have taken in the professional world, and make sure your resume describes the impact you had on your team and place of employment in a way that is quantifiable