Why Does MBA Admissions Look at My LinkedIn profile?

After the heaps of information I have already shoveled at them, what more are they looking for? While MBA adcom has peeked LinkedIn profiles on the sly for many years, mostly at the interview stage, now most schools are formally asking for your LinkedIn profile as part of the application.

What are they looking for?

Must have

    1. Consistency. They want to make sure what you present to them privately matches with what you present to the public. This isn’t just job dates, it’s everything. Do you have a bunch of hashtags for consulting but your profile states you are going for investment banking? Do the statements/strengths stated in your LinkedIn recommendations on match up with what your MBA recommenders submitted? It would be embarrassing to present you to a recruiter when your profile is making conflicting statements.

    2. Recruiters. They want to see how recruiters will see you. Schools invest a lot into these relationships; it’s really one of their most coveted assets. In the virtual WFH world, with virtual recruitment, adcom wants to know that recruiters who look you up (everyone) will be met with normalcy at minimum and a charismatically well-branded persona at best. Adcom wants to present candidates who can be perceived as high value.

    3. Photo. In most countries, resumes include a photo. They want to put a visual to the rest of the information. It’s not necessarily a beauty contest but they want to check the overall vibe you telegraph.


Nice to have

    1. Thought leadership – are you informed and engaged? Will you make good classroom contributions?

    2. Social value-add. Others are looking to enrich themselves through their experiences with MBA classmates. Sometimes LinkedIn is a way to show you will be involved with your network - that you will have hobbies and interests to enjoy and talk about with your MBA colleagues.


Actions you should take….

  1. Make sure the narrative you submit in your application matches everything on your LinkedIn.

  2. Write a compelling LinkedIn summary that gives an overview of what you are known for professionally. What kind of problems are you known for solving? Key achievements? Give them a bit about your “story”- key inflection points and reasons for the choices you have made. And towards the end, a bit about your hobbies. We are striving to make an emotional connection and some quirky fun facts about you help with that.

  3. This is your personal website – make the best and highest use of it, it’s the only one they are likely to review. Get across your personal brand – what adjective do you want to get across, innovative? Visionary? Leverage the “featured” section, really get your brand across. Post work samples, news articles, provide evidence.

  4. Have people write recommendations for you. Use good judgement, make sure you prioritize quality over quantity, but if someone can write a story about you that points to leadership, teamwork and problem solving – have them do so. Admissions is likely to read them because they want to know how others experience you.

  5. In the interest section, make sure the companies, groups and schools reflect your goals/narrative. Add the schools you apply to in the schools section.

  6. Have a professional yet warm, inviting photo. No crossed arms or sour faces, but also, don’t use a goofy photo of you grocery shopping (as did a previous client.)

  7. You want logos in your employment section – if you work for yourself, or a company without a logo, create a company page so a logo appears there. It’s not always possible but important if it’s your current company. Small point but people are visual creatures and logos are legitimizing.

  8. Provide details and achievements in the volunteer section, and the activities in the education section. Keep in mind that you are looking to join a community and they want active, engaged members who care about investing their time and energy in communities and causes. Your job is important but when you leave your job, that is done and over. They want conscientious and engaged members in their community.

  9. Show thought leadership – follow relevant conversations, industry trends, influencers in your space. Even better, post something interesting occasionally. With case-based learning (HBS, Darden) or EMBA programs, the instructor acts more like a facilitator and the admissions committee is looking for people who can make informed and insightful contributions to the classroom discussion. You can demonstrate this quality on LinkedIn.

  10. If you have less than 500 connections, strive for more. Not randomly, of course. Follow influencers, reach out to past colleagues, and add 2nd degree connections who could be helpful. As MIT-Sloan likes to say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Cultivating your network and investing in those relationships infers you will do the same with your MBA colleagues.





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