The Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University announced a significant redesign of its one- and two-year MBA applications this week, and the change may seem both easier and—depending on the extent of your social media presence—slightly more daunting. In addition to making the online application accessible across mobile and tablet devices, Johnson is giving candidates the option of saving time by connecting their LinkedIn profiles directly to the application form. Applicants can automatically populate portions of the application with information from their LinkedIn accounts. Of course, the upshot is that the LinkedIn profile might serve as yet another point of consideration in evaluating your candidacy.
“This modern platform gives our applicants the chance to provide a personal tagline and meaningful summary, point out skills, explain experience, differentiate from the crowd, and show how they build a network,” explained Ann Richards, Johnson’s interim executive director of admissions and financial aid, in a press release. Although the school has stated that LinkedIn will not factor into the admissions decision in any systematic way, Richards told Poets & Quants that the business school had already been looking at applicants’ online presence on a case-by-case basis over the past few years, saying, “If there was a red flag on an application or some information that wasn’t consistent, we might have Googled somebody or checked their LinkedIn profile.”
The revelation may reflect larger trends in MBA admissions and seems to suggest that equally ubiquitous social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are not beyond the reach of admission committees. In short, you never know who might be looking at your profile.
Still, the essence of what schools are seeking in prospective students remains unchanged, and that candidates can opt out of sharing their LinkedIn accounts is worth noting. A strong professional network with compelling endorsements may not be decisive in gaining admission, but it can certainly enhance the admission committee’s overall impression.