Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Your MBA Application
The Cornell Tech MBA made waves when it offered applicants to its unique program in New York City the opportunity to apply with their LinkedIn profiles instead of filling in the tedious employment history section of the application. Other MBA programs like MIT Sloan and UT Austin McCombs are following that trend by inviting applicants to share their LinkedIn profile URLs in their applications. While I don’t believe that every applicant’s LinkedIn profile is going to be fully studied, we at Accepted view any additional space to share more about your background with the admissions committees as an opportunity to make your case of admission even stronger. We highly recommend that you update your LinkedIn profile and share the link in the application when offered the chance to do so. Not only may the admissions office glance at your profile while reviewing your application, but your interviewer may check you out before meeting you in person. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression.
There are five essential areas in the LinkedIn profile that constitute the bare minimum that you need to complete well as an MBA candidate: 1) Headline, 2) Summary, 3) Experience, 4) Education, and 5) Volunteer Experience. In this post, I will explain what to focus on in each of these sections and share some useful additional tools that LinkedIn offers.
Section 1: Headline
The headline is the description that is displayed under your name when you appear as a candidate in someone’s search. You have 120 characters to summarize who you are here, and if you don’t do so, the space will automatically be populated by your current professional title and company. If you are active in fields outside of your professional role, it makes sense to use this space to present a fuller picture. For example, if you’re an Analyst at an investment bank but founded and lead a non-profit organization in addition to that full-time role, then it makes sense to try to include both elements in the headline: “Analyst at Morgan Stanley and Founder of not-for-profit Social Innovation Corps.” This will immediately help you stand out from all the other IB analysts applying alongside you.
Section 2: Summary
The summary offers you 2000 characters to present a full picture of who you are: personality, interests, achievements, passions, and even ambitions. I recommend opening with your current work and most recent impacts in the first paragraph, and then share details of your character, outside interests, and other significant accomplishments in the subsequent paragraphs. Similar to a traditional resume’s Qualifications Summary, this section allows you to bring the most unique elements of your background right to the top for the reader.
Section 3: Experience
LinkedIn allows you to list every position you’ve held within a company separately but in my opinion, you need to assume that readers will not get far in perusing such a long profile. I recommend only listing your most recent role in each company and then using the 2000-character position summary to highlight the promotions you earned and the impacts you made throughout the company.
The Experience section is where LinkedIn parts ways with a traditional resume: instead of using traditional impact bullet points as you would for a resume, LinkedIn works best in paragraph form, telling your story: What was happening in the business environment at the time? What challenges was the company or your unit facing? What actions did you take? Sharing the context surrounding your accomplishments will make those accomplishments even more impressive for the reader. Then, you can share your impact either continuing in paragraph form or in bullet points.
There is one caveat here: LinkedIn is public; don’t share any information that is not already public or anything that would upset a colleague.
Section 4: Education
Since you are applying to graduate school, your involvement in your previous campus experience(s) is very relevant: if you were actively involved on campus and earned exemplary grades in the past, you are likely to do so again in your next university. Therefore, I highly recommend making full use of the space in LinkedIn’s education section to include the activities and leadership roles you held on campus and any excellent academic performance as well as the recognition you may have earned.
Section 5: Volunteer Experience
Finally, LinkedIn offers a Volunteer Experience section. For an application that allows no space in its online form to detail extracurricular activities (like in MIT Sloan’s application), the opportunity to highlight these non-professional roles and impacts here is extremely useful. If you are currently involved in a volunteer activity or social venture, you may wish to bring the experience to the top of your LinkedIn profile by including it in the Experience section itself; however, even if you do choose to keep the description to the separate Volunteer Experiences section – LinkedIn assuages some of the disappointment at the lack of space allowed for these experiences in the application.
For professional guidance with your LinkedIn profile, Check out Accepted’s MBA Resume and LinkedIn Editing Services.
Jennifer Bloom has been a consultant with Accepted for 19 years and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She is an expert atcrafting application materials that truly differentiate you from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your application, Jennifer can suggest a number of options that work with any budget. Want Jennifer to help you get accepted? Click here!
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