Monday, July 28, 2014

Is your LinkedIn profile ready for your Cornell MBA Application?

I found it interesting to see that Cornell Johnson MBA program is now allowing applicants to prefill elements of their application using their expanded LinkedIn profile. I thik that for those applying to Johnson this year and in the future, care should be taken to ensure that their LinkedIn profile is as strong as possible. What follows are some tips and suggestions towards that end.

1. Work responsibilities and accomplishments

Those who have considered their LinkedIn profile to be just as important as their resumes won’t have much of a problem here. I have long endorsed regularly maintaining your resume. The same thing goes for your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it is complete, and representative of your work and the impact you have had on all the organisations you have worked for during your career.

2. Extracurricular Activities

The additional section of the resume gives people headaches when it comes to MBA applications because ideally it would introduce you and your passions more effectively than any other part of the resume. (Read on here for suggestions on how you can do this.) Make sure that whatever efforts you have put into brainstorming interesting and memorable additional section bullet point contents is also reflected in your LinkedIn profile.

3. Proof

LinkedIn offers the chance for you to add recommendations to virtually any part of your profile, and you should definitely do this. I wouldn’t recommend getting 12-15 referrals for each position or volunteer role you have had, but I would certainly consider adding 1-2 impartial and objective voices to each major work role or volunteer commitment so that others can get a feel for your skill set as observed by others.

4. Consistency

Make sure that the resume and all other information you submit to the MBA program matches what is in your LinkedIn profile.

5. Network

“This modern platform gives our applicants the chance to […] show how they build a network.” I took this Ann Richards quote from this article at Stacy Blackman’s Consulting blog. It was revealing to me in that it shows that your network could be considered when evaluating your potential at Cornell. Now this to me is not just a numbers game, and I feel it is short-sighted to simply conclude that the applicant with 500 connections will be valued more highly the one with 5. However, I think it important that you show your ability to network. Certainly it makes sense to demonstrate connections with MBA holders if you are trying to position yourself as someone who is familiar with what goes on in an MBA. Beyond this, the ability to network demonstrates your potential to succeed, as having connections to people you know and trust can help you seek out opportunities that might not otherwise exist for you. 

When all is said and done, it makes sense for me to encourage Cornell MBA applicants to ensure that their LinkedIn profile is as strong, informing and accurate as possible. Beyond that, the same advice applies for anyone else using the platform. 

For more reading on this potentially trend-setting change to MBA admissions look here, here, here and here.

John Couke