Written by: Michelle Miller, CEO ARINGO Americas, MichelleM@ARINGO.com
Applying to business school is much like applying to a job. You need stellar letters of recommendation, a complete application, a strong resume, and to nail the interview. Also like a job applicant, MBA candidates must ensure that the rest of their image is beyond repute. An often-overlooked but crucial consideration is your online presence. The final installment of ARINGO’s Hacking the Apps series will review the importance of a clean online image, and recommended steps to help you apply confidently, knowing that your social media profiles support your application narrative.
Business schools have increasingly reported that part of their admissions process is an online search for the candidate. This may happen throughout different parts of the process including by an admissions committee member reviewing your application, the interviewer preparing to meet with you, and in the background check that is conducted after admission has been offered. So how can you make sure that what they find is both complementary and supportive of the information you have shared?
Begin with your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it is up to date, and like your resume, includes highlights for each position including promotions, notable accomplishments, and impressive responsibilities. If you don’t have them already, reach out to professionals you have worked with (preferably in positions superior to your own) to have them write a recommendation on your page. Finally, make sure your education is filled in and also includes activities, sports, projects, and other notable achievements from college.
Now that LinkedIn is up to date, review your other social media sites. It’s likely that your pages and timelines are fine – committee members know and expect that you have a social life outside of work. However, look over the posts and photos to your pages and ask yourself: is there anything here that you wouldn’t want them to see? Or even if your own postings are nothing to worry about, what about the content that has been posted by others? We all have that “crazy uncle” or longtime friend who likes to push the envelope – look at everything on your wall, page, board and timeline and decide what should probably be taken down while you apply.
Last but not least is the “old” standby: Google yourself! Remember there is a good chance that someone reviewing your application will, and this is a good way to make sure no stone is left unturned. Perhaps your long-forgotten Live Journal from high school is still posted and you’d rather the adcom didn’t read about the time you got sick in front of your gym classmates or forgot to turn in that chemistry assignment.
Despite the formalized process of applying to business school, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the admissions committees and other individuals involved in the process will only look at your application materials. How you present yourself online can either support or strengthen the narrative you wish to present to the school, or it may detract from or even damage your image. Take the time to review and update your online presence to reflect the professional you are. Good luck!