One question that is on an AdCom’s mind is “How different is this applicant.” Business Schools are not looking to fill the classroom with working professionals, with similar experience, and background. They want diversity in experience, background, academic qualification, nationality, and leadership achievements.
As an applicant, it is your duty to identify & highlight attributes that would make you stand out from the competition. In order to do that, you should have a clear understanding of the class composition, and profiles of the previous class. Although Business Schools are unlikely to repeat the same class next year, you will get an understanding on what each class stands for, and the type of students that is considered fit for the school, and the community at large.
Articulating Unique Value Proposition
Articulating your attributes into a unique value proposition is the trickiest part that requires analysis of your personality from a third party’s point of view. Some of the qualities that should translate into unique value proposition are:
You spent $1500 for the complete Essay Review service; you uploaded the essays 1-week before the deadlines; your recommender endorsed the message that you are mature beyond your age, and has a distinctive understanding of relationships, and group dynamics. The Admissions team is impressed, and they start “Googling your name.” There were four others with your name, but your unique surname made it easy for them to select your blog - an exquisite analysis of life, relationship, economy and technology. The admission team is doubly impressed. They scroll down, and your offensive tweet about a community is indexed just below your LinkedIn profile.
Every interaction with your personal brand, either online or offline are touch points that you have to manage carefully. What works for big brands also works for personal brands. You don’t have to be impersonal while interacting with followers on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, but remember that your messages are getting archived, for someone in the future to read, and evaluate. Cleaning up social media profiles is just taking care of one touch point. There are eight touch points that you have to manage.
“What you want to do with your life?” This was a question that we were asked in 2006 by my ex-boss, who also happens to lead a workshop – “Perspective”, a three day program to unearth our purpose in life. Yes - ”Life”. We were asked to create one-sentence mission statements and then shout it out to other participants. They were the judge and decided if the statement was authentic. The audience was brutal.
On average, they rejected the mission statement, at least 10 times. We had to modify the statement, or internalize the feeling and shout it out again, until our authentic self was revealed. For a lucky few, the exercise lasted 1 hour and for others it stretched to 3-5 hours. It was exhausting but had a lasting impact on what I wanted to do with my life. When I remember that exercise, the one thing that strikes me was that there were no guidelines on what to say or even what to aspire. My personal brand was up to me with infinite possibilities.
There were no right answers.
When someone chooses to do an MBA, personal brand is defined by the limited job functions, industries and short-term goals. It’s a top down approach of fitting your ambition with the personal brand...
“Be Unique. Demonstrate your USP”
We have been guilty of such advice too. The Business School representative repeats it each time they meet you during MBA Info Sessions, and even during one on one correspondence via email. MBA applicants worry too much about USP that they forget one quality that by itself will be a USP – the resilience of their character.
We hear about this quality in different forms:
He accepts his failures without any insecurity
She is always thinking ‘what can I learn’ from the setback
He does not dwell on his failures
These qualities have been interpreted in the past as signs of confidence, or as character trademark of someone who looks at obstacles for life lessons. Instead of trying vaguely to map your reaction to life events with the resilience of your character, we have focused on five factors that define resilience.
1) Support System
This might seem counter-intuitive to many. The word resilience gives the impression that it is “I against the world,” but if you notice standout MBA Applicants, they have a network of well...
What comes to your mind when I say, “Finger licking goodness” and “Open Happiness”. Unless you have been isolated from all forms of media, the slogans can be attributed to world’s two best-known brands – KFC & Coca-Cola. They have spent billions of dollars on mapping the message with the brand, but the fundamentals of brand recall have an eerie similarity with personal branding.
Power of Attention
When you hear leading brands hammering their slogans every 2 hours, you might wonder whether the message has any influence on our preference. As customers, our attention is captured by brands that stand out. It might be due to the outrageous slogan, simplicity, or perceived value. The first part cannot be used in MBA Admissions. You cannot gain admission by writing about your intimate encounters and eccentricity.
What works are simplicity and perceived value for the MBA class. In a world where a simple idea is convoluted by complex sentences, your ability to articulate motivation in simple sentences will stand out. Once attention from AdCom is captured, you are setting expectations on how you would behave during face-to-face meetings and phone...
The goal behind personal branding is to be a signal in a world of noise, and you cannot do that without identifying traits of the previous class. For MBA Applicants, this can be tricky. Beyond the demographic and academic data, the profile pages offer very little information on the personality, and the drive of the Alumni and current students. Instead of second-guessing your competitor, find out more about current students and alumni. Ask why they were selected? If the only thing that you can see is academic qualifications, then it is time to research further. We would recommend applicants to visit the profile page of current MBA students. Here is a simple 3-Step process:
1) Summarize Academic Qualification
It can be a daunting task to create a database of over 600 to 800 students but in most cases, Business Schools are under pressure to maintain the diversity in nationality in an MBA program, and therefore, by shortlisting current students from your country, it would be a much more efficient exercise. For US applicants, this can be tricky as...