LinkedIn has become an essential part of the MBA admissions process. Whether schools require that you include your LI profile link or not, there’s an excellent chance that someone at some time during the application review process will be examining it (and your other social media profiles as well). We at Accepted view any additional space to share more about your background with the admissions committees as an opportunity to strengthen your case for admission. We highly recommend that you update your LinkedIn profile and share the link in the application when offered the chance to do so. 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 in order to compete well as an MBA candidate: 1) Headline, 2) Summary, 3) Experience, 4) Education, and 5) Volunteer Experience. Read on to learn what to focus on in each of these sections and how to take advantage of LinkedIn’s useful tools.
Section 1: Headline
The headline is the description displayed under your name when you appear in someone’s search. You have 120 characters to summarize who you are here, and if you leave it blank, your current professional title and company will automatically populate the space.
If you are active in non-professional roles, use this space to present a fuller picture of you. For example, if you’re an analyst at an investment bank and founded and lead a non-profit organization in addition to that full-time role, it makes sense to try to include both elements in the headline: “Analyst at Goldman Sachs and Founder of Not-for-Profit Social Innovation Corps.” Including both in the headline will automatically help you distinguish yourself from the rest of the IB analysts competing with 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 suggest starting with your current work and most recent achievements in the first paragraph, and in later paragraphs relate details of your character, outside interests, and other significant accomplishments. Like a traditional resume’s Qualifications Summary, this section allows you to highlight the most impressive elements of your background for the reader. You may cover some of this information in your application also, but this is a great opportunity to distil this info and present it prominently.
Section 3: Experience
LinkedIn allows you to list individually every position you’ve held within a company, but in my opinion, you need to assume that readers will not get far in reviewing such a lengthy profile. I recommend only listing your most recent role in each firm and then using the 2000-character position summary to spotlight the promotions you earned and the impact you made throughout the company.
LinkedIn approaches the Experience section differently from a traditional resume: In place of writing traditional impact-focused bullet points as you do in a resume, LinkedIn encourages you to tell your story in paragraph form by answering the following questions:
- What was the business environment at the time?
- What challenges did the company or your group encounter?
- What did you do?
Providing the context surrounding your accomplishments will make those achievements even more memorable for the reader. Then, you can share your impact either by continuing in prose or by switching to bullet points.
There is one warning here: LinkedIn is public; don’t share any confidential information or anything that would upset a colleague.
Section 4: Education
Since you are applying to graduate school, your academic performance and on-campus participation is important. If you previously were active on campus and earned stellar marks, you are likely to do so again during the next phase of your education. Therefore, we highly recommend that you take advantage of the space in LinkedIn’s Education section to reveal the activities and leadership roles you held on campus and any excellent academic performance as well as the awards or honors you may have earned.
Section 5: Volunteer Experience
Finally, LinkedIn offers a Volunteer Experience section. If you are applying to an MBA program that provides little or no space in its online form to detail extracurricular activities (such as in MIT Sloan’s MBA application), the ability to describe these non-professional roles and accomplishments here is an opportunity not to be missed. If you are actively involved in a volunteer activity or social venture, you can both detail it here in the Volunteer Experience section and include it in your Summary. That way, if admissions committee members or your interviewer look you up, they’ll see what you really want them to know front and center.
For professional guidance with your MBA application, including your LinkedIn profile, check out Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting and Editing services.
Jen Weld, MBA admissions expert at Accepted, is the former Assistant Director of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program. She enjoys guiding MBA applicants to acceptance at top MBA and EMBA programs around the world.