In Part 1, we discussed that the CV/resume is often the first part of an MBA application package that admissions officers browse through and the closer it is to an executive resume, the better it will demonstrate your potential for management studies and career. In Part 2, we listed six pitfalls to avoid in the resume. Now, in Part 3, we are going to review the increasing role social media networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook play in your MBA application and how they can enhance it.
Social media has become an additional factor that MBA aspirants should take into account as they try to present an application which paints a full, consistent picture of themselves. Unlike in former times, applicants now have to work on their digital presence, which should be in sync with their physical application package.
A 2017 Kaplan Test Prep survey of more than 150 business schools across the United States found that more than a third of them are tapping into social media to help them make admissions decisions. In addition, many who check applicants’ profiles say they do so on a regular basis.
All this points to the necessity of aligning your social media presence with the goal of gaining admission to a renowned MBA program. So, let’s see how your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles can aid your application.
Update your LinkedIn account
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with more than 562 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. MBA AdComs are specifically drawn to LinkedIn because it is the most comprehensive of the social media channels and in many ways caters to MBAs. As the Economist puts it:
The social network has some curious characteristics: people are more likely to use it the more they earn, and it is about the only such website on which users in their thirties and forties are more likely to be a member than those in their late teens and twenties.
LinkedIn lets you give an account of your professional path and achievements in much more detail than the standard one-page CV/resume. In fact, a strong presence on LinkedIn is essential for MBA applicants. Your LinkedIn profile can serve as an extension to your resume, giving more details and expanding on areas for which there is simply no space in the official document. For instance, the resume may indicate your interest in architecture, but you can’t mention the names of architects you admire. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is not limited in space and as such can give admissions’ officers a more detailed overview of your educational and professional development as well as your professional interests.
MBA applicants are well advised to update their LinkedIn profile and share the link in the application form, if possible. This network is of particular use to business schools because apart from admissions officers, an aspirant’s profile may be reviewed by an interviewer before a face-to-face meeting.
In updating your LinkedIn profiles, you should ensure that the information is consistent with the data represented in your application package. For instance, your profile should support the interests mentioned in the resume. If your resume indicates an interest in entrepreneurship and startups, on LinkedIn you should follow entrepreneurs and organizations active on the start-up scene. Also, your career and education information should vouch for the data presented in your MBA application. Check and re-check several times if you need to, but your LinkedIn profile should be consistent with your MBA application. If the person reviewing your application finds discrepancies, your application could attract extra scrutiny or could even be sidelined.
Keep your Facebook profile neat
While it makes sense for MBA admissions officers to review your LinkedIn account, you may be wondering why they would check your Facebook profile. The answer is simple – they do it to gain a fuller picture of yourself and assess your suitability for their program. Consuela Knox, senior associate director and diversity recruiting manager at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management (US), told Bloomberg:
Facebook can help us gauge someone’s personality and interests, and we use it to help determine fit.
Facebook allows admissions officers to see your life from a less formal, relaxed perspective. They can learn more about your hobbies, interests and social life. The social network also tends to highlight your values through comments, event participations, pictures etc. Given the private nature of the information, problems may arise.
The aforementioned Kaplan Test Prep survey found that social media can both hurt and help applicants. Half those polled who reviewed applicants’ social media activity said they had found something that undermined an applicant’s admissions’ chances. Among the online discoveries that have hurt students are unacceptable racial attitudes or disturbing pictures on their Facebook accounts.
Therefore, aspirants are advised to review their Facebook activity and assess whether their identity on the social network supports and enhances their profile as an MBA applicant. This doesn’t mean that they should model their Facebook accounts on LinkedIn and scrub all the personal information. Admissions’ officers expect you to have friends and family. Just keep it fun and engaging, and never vulgar or negative. You may subject your profile to the “grandmother rule” -- if you don’t want your grandma to see it, just delete it.
Much like LinkedIn, consistency between your Facebook profile and your overall application package is obligatory. In fact, your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, together with your official application, should form an interconnected whole. The slightest inconsistency may raise a red flag and invite more scrutiny of your papers.
Although the digital-era application may seem a hassle, especially compared with the much simpler process in the past, it is in fact an opportunity. It’s a chance to reveal more of yourself and convince admissions committee members that you are the right person for the program.