A common misconception of applicants is that gaining acceptance to the top MBA programs comes down to having strong statistics – in other words, a high GPA score and high GMAT/GRE score are the key factors that will drive their success in the process. Unfortunately, given this assumption, many academic achievers are disappointed when they are denied admission to the schools of their choice (and surprised when those with more average scores are admitted).
So, what is the difference between those who are more successful versus those who fall short? Those with strong statistics no doubt have a strong shot, but those who are accepted likely took the time to develop their personal brand.
What is a personal brand? Essentially, it’s a picture of who you actually are – your qualities, characteristics, and values. Successful candidates are able to demonstrate their personal brand in a compelling way throughout their applications.
Below are three reasons why you should take some time to develop your personal brand before delving into the applications.
Your personal brand is the foundation of your story/strategy
Your MBA applications are an opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee about you in a cohesive way. Too many times, candidates jump into the process and start working on the different parts of the applications without any clear goal or purpose in mind. This results in applications that are “all over the place” with no clear message.
Your personal brand will dictate the story/strategy of all of your applications and become the core foundation. It will be the compass that will make it much easier to determine in which direction your applications should be shaped. Each piece of the application – your essays, resume, recommendation letters, short answers within the applications – will be driven by your personal brand. It’s not easy to develop one’s personal brand, but by taking the time to do so, you will already be ahead of your competition.
Your personal brand will help you to stand out and be memorable
Your unique attributes, which will come through in your personal brand, will help you to stand out. This is especially true for over-represented industries, such as those working in finance and consulting, and in over-represented demographics, such as Indian male. Note that Admissions Committees initially spend 15-20 minutes reviewing an application; in that short time span, you can make a memorable and lasting impression by submitting an application that is authentic and crafted around your distinctive story/strategy, qualities, and values. Your personal brand will help to spark the Admissions Committee's curiosity to know you even better.
Your personal brand will clearly show how you will be able to contribute
By developing a personal brand and conveying it through your applications, it will be clear to the Admissions Committee how you will be able to contribute once you are engaged with their community. The Admissions Committee is looking to admit a diverse class of students with impactful experiences and unique characteristics who can all learn from one another. Once this comes through clearly in your application through your personal brand, story/strategy, and specific examples, it will be apparent how you will continue to draw upon your personal brand to give back and provide value.
Developing your personal brand should be one of the first things that you do as you immerse yourself in the MBA application process. Click here to see how we can help you in this endeavor!
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.