In an increasingly digital world where there are fewer opportunities to meet admissions directors and staff in person at MBA fairs and other events, your LinkedIn profile is even more important. 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! 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, 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 nine 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, it wants to see a photo that makes you look like you would excel in the MBA recruiting process—which means a headshot and traditional business attire. Scrub casual photos and the action shot 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.
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. 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 between your LinkedIn profile, resume, and application short answer questions.
4. 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 500-plus connections. If you are not there yet, connect with colleagues, college classmates, and friends.
5. 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.
6. 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 have an impact in these organizations.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Focus on Presentation
Customize your profile URL so that it contains 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 help you as you navigate through 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.