Developing a Personal Brand in MBA Applications

In the competitive world of MBA applications, it is now more important than ever to stand out among other exceptional candidates. Top grades, GMAT scores and strong career growth are no longer sufficient.  Nor is being an engineer with excellent technical skills enough. Now applicants must think beyond their skills and qualifications and develop an application that reflects their personal brand. This personal brand is the key factor that differentiates them from others.

To understand what a personal brand entails, it requires a definition. To many people, a personal brand is an image a person exudes to others. In the context of the MBA application, it is the impression a person leaves with the reader. This impression is critical, as it will impact the result. Since most readers take roughly between 15 to 20 minutes to read through one application, the applicant has a short time to make a lasting impact.

Given this, for many people, the task of creating a personal brand is challenging. To ease this process, the following tips are useful.

1. Reflection

To create a strong personal brand, a person should reflect on his/her professional and personal life and identify reoccurring themes. These themes can be used to contextualize the applicant’s impression to others. For example, even though an applicant worked as an analyst, his area of focus may have been mainly in medical technology. As such, framing the application within the area of medical technology helps the reader visualize the applicant’s background and personal brand.

2. Strategy

Since people are always changing and growing from their experiences, their personal brand can change as well. Given this, it is necessary to be strategic in choosing a personal brand. This process involves an applicant to think beyond his/her own comfort zone and bubble. For example, for most system engineers, their work often requires concentration and singular execution. This profession can be isolating and individualistic. To balance out such an image, an applicant may want to choose a story in his/her MBA essay that connotes strong communication and collaboration skills.   This balanced application creates the personal brand of a well-rounded applicant.

3. Marketing

In MBA applications, marketing one’s personal brand requires tact and lexical awareness. When developing an image to the reader, the applicant should carefully construct the resume, essays, and application using vocabulary that is reflective of the personal brand he/she wants to convey. For example, if the person wants to present an image of a leader, using vocabulary such as directed, managed, and oversaw paints the picture of the brand to the reader. This tactic is important to shape and construct a meaningful personal brand.

Posted by Lee Moua

Author: AGOS Consulting Team

@AgosJapan (formerly Princeton Review of Japan) – 25 years of experience. Best MBA, LL.M, and MPP admissions results in Japan.