LinkedIn profiles are increasingly important for MBA applicants. Cornell allows applicants to apply using only their LinkedIn profiles instead of filling in details about their working experience, and other schools are encouraging applicants to share their LinkedIn URL in their applications.
Many applicants to MBA programs “clean up” their LinkedIn profiles (as well as social media profiles, though LinkedIn is assumed to be the most important one to take a look at, due to its professional orientation) and more than a quarter of admissions officers schools say they take social media accounts into consideration when reviewing applications.
From those numbers, one can draw the conclusion that not every applicants LinkedIn profile will be examined, but as an applicant, you can never know for sure. Therefore applicants should take the opportunity to make their LinkedIn profile stronger.
But how should you optimize your LinkedIn profile if you want to maximize your chances of being admitted to a top MBA program?
Make sure your profile is up to date
It is common for professionals to create a LinkedIn profile and then forget to update it. Needless to say, if you are one of these people, your LinkedIn profile may lack important pieces of your background such as the promotions you have earned, new tasks you have taken on or other additional responsibilities you have been given. Start by reviewing your current LinkedIn profile and see if anything is missing.
Check your headline
Many LinkedIn users never change their headline on the site. In these cases, LinkedIn will automatically fill in your current professional title, as well as the company you work for, and unless you have privacy settings to prevent it, this information is visible in search engines such as Google as well. Applicants should make sure that their headline is correct, up to date and on the correct level for their position (in case of promotions, unusual titles that may need to be explained, etc.). Excessively lengthy headlines will not be possible, however, as there is a limit of 120 characters.
Do not limit your profile to work
Sure, LinkedIn is intended for professional purposes, but as we all know, the schools want to see extra-curricular activities, interests and passions as well. Add something along those lines to your LinkedIn profile (in your summary if possible). It will help you to stand out and show the schools that you are serious about the charity you work for, your unusual hobby, or your ambitions, whatever you choose to add here!
Ask for recommendations
The more, the better. Recommendations on LinkedIn are great as you need an actual co-worker to write them for you. You get to approve all recommendations yourself before they are published, so there is no harm. Endorsements are great too, but of less value as they are not as detailed.
Post updates related to your career and achievements
Many of us are active on Facebook, but less so on LinkedIn. While you may not want to post exactly the same things on LinkedIn as you do on Facebook (no cat pictures and definitely not your views on politics – unless your job is in politics!), there are some updates that could help show off pieces you cannot describe in too much detail in your application. Did you speak at a conference? Or perhaps have an article published? If so, make sure you post it on LinkedIn!
Professional photos only
By which we mean fairly conservative and up to date. A profile picture from a holiday, party or with another person will not do, it should look like a photo from a job interview or “another day at the office”.