Among social media outlets with a professional focus, LinkedIn is the undisputed leader. The platform allows you to showcase thought leadership in your field and to weave in additional details that support your overall MBA narrative. Considering that there are word limits for just about every aspect of the application process, LinkedIn is low-hanging fruit in providing additional space for you to share complementary details to support your application, should the admissions team look up your profile.
The time to get your LinkedIn house in order is before you hit “Submit”—because if there are discrepancies between what you have submitted and what is online, the damage is already done! (If you are planning to apply to business school, start reviewing ALL your social media now!)
Although LinkedIn is the most likely place admissions teams will look to further investigate a candidate, you should review your entire social media presence, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and blogs. Delete anything that you would not be comfortable discussing in an interview.
Given that LinkedIn can be especially powerful in enhancing your MBA admissions profile, here are ten tips to improve your LinkedIn presence before you apply:
1. Look the part.
Although a few MBA programs, such as Columbia Business School, ask you to include a photo in your application, most programs do not. If the admissions committee does view your LinkedIn profile, let them see a photo that fits with MBA recruiting—which means a headshot and traditional business attire. Scrub casual photos and action shots at the summit of a mountain. Also check your profile settings to make sure your photo is visible to people beyond your own connections so that admissions professionals who search your profile will see your photo. You can also customize your background photo as a way to differentiate yourself. In addition, LinkedIn now allows you to share a 30-second video when visitors click on your profile picture. Providing a thoughtful introduction that offers insight into your career journey could make a great impression on any MBA admissions professionals who click on your profile link.
2. Use your headline and profile summary strategically.
Your headline appears under your name and gives you the opportunity to position yourself in a way that supports your post-MBA career goals. Your summary statement allows you to share some of your key accomplishments and significant community leadership engagements. Use first person (instead of third, which can sound pretentious) in your summary, and highlight your leadership skills and professional impact. Avoid generic buzzwords such as organized and creative. Ensure your summary answers the questions “Why an MBA?” and “Why now?”
3. Be a content creator.
Developing a habit of routinely posting useful content about your industry/function will show MBA admissions directors that you are a thought leader. When you post content, you will gain more visibility within LinkedIn if you enable Creator mode. You can do this by scrolling down to the Resources section of your profile and clicking the link to turn Creator mode on. You can then click “Add topics” to add five content areas that align with your industry and career goals. You don’t need to type the “#” symbol; the hashtag areas will automatically populate once your click “Turn on” for adding those topics. When you post or share content on LinkedIn, people who follow the hashtags you included will be alerted to your post. By demonstrating thought leadership, you may even gain some professional advancement opportunities within your industry.
4. Match key dates to your resume and application.
Admissions professionals are fastidious in reviewing dates while evaluating your overall application. Do not give the admissions team an opportunity to question your integrity or overall dependability by presenting discrepancies in any dates, companies, or titles among your LinkedIn profile, resume, and application short answer questions.
5. Make connections.
The admissions team wants to know that you have already developed a strong professional network that will help you in the MBA recruiting process. Aim to have more than 500 connections. If you are not there yet, connect with colleagues, college classmates, and friends. By regularly sharing and commenting on the posts of other professionals in your industry, you can also build relationships with people who can either facilitate connections to MBA alumni to help you during the admissions process or provide insight about MBA job recruiting later on.
6. Show supporting details.
Link to articles you have published or articles that highlight the impact you have made through your professional or community experiences. Reach out to your professional network to ask for recommendations and endorsements highlighting specific contributions. If an admissions professional glances at your profile and reads a glowing review, you have effectively submitted an additional positive recommendation.
7. Highlight your leadership skills.
Use the Volunteer Experience section to highlight the organizations you were involved with in college and beyond. There is ample space—much more than you have on your resume—to add key details about your ability to make an impact in these organizations.
8. Add accomplishments.
Highlight “extras” that might have fallen off your resume in the Accomplishments section—for example, continuing education in your area of interest (like Python classes or additional certifications) and honors or awards not mentioned elsewhere.
9. Follow your leaders.
Follow companies and organizations that align with your post-MBA goals. If the companies you follow are investment banks yet your application notes that you want to go into social impact consulting, this might raise a red flag. You can also signal your interest in specific MBA programs by following any business school that interests you—and by doing so, you will see information from that program in your LinkedIn feed.
10. Focus on presentation.
Customize your profile URL to contain your name, and include this simplified link on your resume so the admissions team can easily find your profile. Proofread everything in your LinkedIn profile as well.
Enhancing your digital presence with a strong LinkedIn profile will not only benefit you in the MBA admissions process but will also help you navigate the MBA recruiting process and your career in general.
Our Stratus admissions counselors all have MBAs from top programs, and we are available to start the conversation about your profile through a free consultation that you can schedule here.