Profile-Building: What, Why and How?

MBA Link
PUBLISHED ON
September 16, 2016

Profile-Building: What, Why and How?

Have you ever walked out of an important job interview feeling like you hit a home run? The chemistry with the interviewer was awesome. The two of you had so much in common. The whole conversation was so natural and easy. You hit all the points you wanted. You poured your heart out. After the smiles and thank you’s, you walked out with a slight swagger, on Cloud 9, already daydreaming about the precise wording of that juicy offer surely coming in the mail.

Then you waited. And waited. You even sent a follow-up note. Nothing. Nada.

Long story short … one morning you get an email with the dreaded words “regret to inform” in the first sentence. To your shock and dismay, they went with another candidate. What could have happened? You turn it over in your mind, trying to pinpoint what could possibly have gone wrong: You were on time, dressed to the hilt, $300 black leather shoes. Your answers were crisp. Your demeanor relaxed, confident, professional. Chemistry was terrific. Nothing you can really put your finger on.

If you’ve ever had this experience, or want to know how to avoid it, I’m here to tell you that, nine times out of ten, the reason you didn’t get the job was you didn’t give the interviewer the information they were looking for. Let me try and put it another way: They didn’t hear what they needed to hear to be convinced you would be a positive addition to their team.

Really? Yes, really. Quite often, feeling great about how an interview went has little correlation with how well you actually did from the interviewer’s perspective.

The MBA application process is very similar. Just as you can feel great about an interview yet fail to make the impression you thought you actually made, feeling good about your business school essays and the resume you sent in is a very weak foundation upon which to build your admission hopes. Especially when it comes to the high-competition schools. There is a more systematic, logical, research-based way to go about heightening your chances. Let me tell you about that.

It’s called Profile Building.

Here at MBA Link, we’re focused on getting our clients to grasp why profile-building is important, then guiding them in the process through a team of highly skilled experts. Believe it or not, before we even get to the essay questions or interview preparation, we typically work with a client for 4-6 weeks just to understand—and help them understand—their core story, who they really are.

Many clients at first don’t see the need for this. They believe they just need a bit of help with their personal statement, especially if they think they’re already pretty good writers. They have built up a lot of internal conviction that their draft essay says just about everything they want it to say; all they need is some guidance on how to polish it up or make it flow better.

Yup. Just like all you needed at your last job interview was a good conversation and great rapport with the interviewer.

Through long years of experience, we have learned there is more to it than that. MBA Link consultants have a combined 40 years of experience in admissions, many of them as former Admissions Committee members at top business schools. Our track record for placing students in the world’s most selective, most prestigious MBA programs—often with profiles that had serious deficiencies—demonstrates the value of stepping back, digging deeper, and taking an approach that is more strategic, self-reflective and self-analytical.

Along the way, we’ve learned that getting clients to spend a little more time laying the groundwork for the blueprint of their essay and application strategy saves time in writing the actual essay. And more importantly, that process maximizes the chances that the all-important Admissions Committee will read an essay that hits all the major points they are looking for in an ideal candidate.

So, how does this work in practice? What are the key things to think about when you’re constructing your MBA profile?

The Admissions Committee will be analyzing your essays for answers to four key questions—Fit, Aptitude, Motivation, and Experience (or to borrow the acronym we use around here, FAME):

Fit – Will this candidate be a good fit for our school’s social culture, learning atmosphere, teaching methods, and curriculum emphases and focus?

Aptitude – What intellectual, attitudinal, and interpersonal strengths has this candidate demonstrated in the past, and will these strengths make them successful in our program and in their post-MBA career?

Motivation – Has this candidate demonstrated clearly that they understand exactly why they want an MBA, and secondly, why they want it at this stage of their life?

Experience – What professional and personal life experiences does this candidate have that, one, will make them a learning asset to their classmates and, two, they can build on if they entered our program?

The depth and comprehensive sweep of our FAME Self-analysis Framework allows us to assess an applicant’s key qualifications in a way that results in much stronger application essays and, of course, substantially higher admission chances.

All four components of FAME are critical. Let’s look at a concrete scenario where an applicant with a fantastic profile dropped the ball on one of the core elements. We’ll call him JBH.

Twenty-six-year-old JBH had stellar grades, GMAT scores, and professional work experience. In his essays, he articulated clear goals, impressive strengths that were illustrated by interesting stories, and clear reasons why his career path required an MBA. Yet JBH got turned down by his two top-choice schools and accepted only into his second-choice programs.

What happened? JBH clearly demonstrated his Aptitude, Motivation and Experience. You could say he nailed three elements of our FAME Structure. But at both of his top-choice schools, he failed to convince the Adcom that he would be a good Fit for their school. He came close, and it could have gone his way. But in the end, each Adcom decided to go with a less impressive candidate whom they felt would fit the entering class and their program more perfectly/congruently.

We’ve seen this tragedy repeat itself over and over.

The good news is, you don’t actually need to knock each of the four FAME questions out of the park to get admitted into a good MBA program. Admissions committees will infer a lot of what you don’t tell them explicitly, and if you are 70% there, they will often take a chance on you.

This is why so many MBA students actually have no idea why they were admitted, and why they are often not the best resource for prospective MBA students looking for advice on writing essays.

Extremely few MBA candidates wait another year to reapply. For most, this thing is a one-shot, once-in-a-lifetime process. So our clients come to us because they don’t want to leave anything to chance. They can’t afford to wait an entire year and do it over again. They want to submit with the certainty of knowing they are submitting their very best against what is sometimes unbelievably high competition. But unless that competition has done their homework, like you did, Profile Building is definitely going to give you a leg up.

Extremely few MBA candidates wait another year to reapply. For most, this thing is a one-shot, once-in-a-lifetime process. So our clients come to us because they don’t want to leave anything to chance. They can’t afford to wait an entire year and do it over again. They want to submit with the certainty of knowing they are submitting their very best against what is sometimes unbelievably high competition. But unless that competition has done their homework, like you did, Profile Building is definitely going to give you a leg up.

Read More On MBA Admissions:

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Melusi
BA, Philosophy, Harvard University
Swazi, based in Dubai
After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Philosophy, Melusi began his career as an educator at the MATCH Middle School, a charter school devoted to educating disadvantaged youth in Boston. During his year-long fellowship at MATCH, Melusi honed his teaching and mentorship skills, which would serve him well in the years to come as an undergraduate admissions consultant and test prep trainer.

Melusi has over four years of experience in the test prep industry, preparing students for success in standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, and in high school examination boards such as the International Baccalaureate and A-levels.

Drawing on his wealth of experience in the world of standardized testing, Melusi also develops content and curricula for test prep programs, which incorporate the best practices he has learned over the years. His passion for education lies in not only guiding his students in their quest for success but also encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capabilities.

How Melusi’s Experience Benefits You:

Melusi’s background and experience speaks to his dedication to education. He’s in this for the long haul.
He’s freaky smart, even in a company like ours which is made up of academic stars. Use his brain to enhance yours!
His training and experience adds to his natural talent for patience and breaking down difficult concepts so they are easy to understand.
Melusi
BA, Philosophy, Harvard University
Swazi, based in Dubai
After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Philosophy, Melusi began his career as an educator at the MATCH Middle School, a charter school devoted to educating disadvantaged youth in Boston. During his year-long fellowship at MATCH, Melusi honed his teaching and mentorship skills, which would serve him well in the years to come as an undergraduate admissions consultant and test prep trainer.

Melusi has over four years of experience in the test prep industry, preparing students for success in standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, and in high school examination boards such as the International Baccalaureate and A-levels.

Drawing on his wealth of experience in the world of standardized testing, Melusi also develops content and curricula for test prep programs, which incorporate the best practices he has learned over the years. His passion for education lies in not only guiding his students in their quest for success but also encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capabilities.

How Melusi’s Experience Benefits You:

Melusi’s background and experience speaks to his dedication to education. He’s in this for the long haul.
He’s freaky smart, even in a company like ours which is made up of academic stars. Use his brain to enhance yours!
His training and experience adds to his natural talent for patience and breaking down difficult concepts so they are easy to understand.
Katelyn
BA, Boston College
M.Ed, University if Notre Dame
American, based in Taipei, Taiwan
Katelyn has worked in admissions for nearly two decades, and most recently served as the Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C. In that role, she managed the Admissions and Scholarship Committees for both the Full-time and Part-time MBA programs, so she knows what top-tier MBA programs are looking for throughout the application review process. Throughout the years, Katelyn has recruited, evaluated and interviewed thousands of candidates, so she brings a broad base of experience, perspective and valuable insight to her MBA Link clients. (She also has a lot of funny stories to tell!) In her free time, she loves exploring her new home in Taipei with her husband and two young kids.

How Katelyn’s Experience Can Benefit You:

If you're looking for someone with direct experience, making admissions and scholarships decisions and advising eager MBA candidates, Katelyn is your person! She will help you create the strongest application possible and avoid the mistakes that many applicants make during the admissions process.
Katelyn is a pro when it comes to messaging and creating a compelling narrative for applicants. She will help you position yourself so that you're optimized for success throughout the MBA application process.
Staying on track and "beating deadlines, not just meeting them" is a key ingredient to success in the admissions process. Katelyn's organized and structured approach to client coaching will help you have an enjoyable experience and mitigate stress as much as possible. She will also help you keep your eye on the prize and be ready to celebrate when the offers of admission roll in!
Ann
Ann comes to us from the MBA Admission office at Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Business where she spent almost 30 years. Her passion is working with a wide variety of candidates to help them realize their potential through an MBA.  Ann’s time in MBA admissions allowed her to travel throughout the world and connect with candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Ann has a real soft spot for women, first generation college students and anyone with an atypical background – often they don’t have the family or social support to put an MBA on their goal list.  They may need a little boost to help them frame their experiences and contributions in a way that strengthens their confidence and their profile.  While working in MBA admissions, she also participated in organizations such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow and the Forte Organization which focus on helping underrepresented students prepare for business school.  Ann is excited to continue her career helping MBA applicants achieve their dreams.

Outside of work Ann loves travel, spending time with her husband and their dogs.  When they’re not traveling, they live in a beautiful part of Upstate New York with great access to lakes, hiking and biking trails.  Their newest interest is kayaking and they look forward to taking several kayaking trips on the Erie Canal soon.

How Ann’s Experience Benefits You:

30 year career of evaluating MBA candidates provide insight into the important elements of your profile.
Personal experience connecting non-traditional experience into career related skills that help set you apart as an MBA candidate.
As a coach, I am supportive, but want you to do the work to make your application as authentic as possible.
Vaibhav
MBA, INSEAD Business School
Indian, based in Singapore
Vaibhav has over 10 years of experience in senior commercial and management roles in various industries including consulting, audit, tech, education and not-for-profit across India, Mexico and Singapore. This allows him to understand our clients experiences' and guide them better. He now works for a Southeast-Asian tech company in Singapore.

Having started his journey in a small university in an Indian city, he managed to get himself exposure to work and travel around the world. He developed a passion for helping candidates inch closer to their dream business schools when he managed to get into top schools with a relatively low GMAT score, which is particularly difficult for an Indian male applicant, and is a strong advocate of how compelling personal stories can make an immense impact on applications and interviews.

He recently authored a book called "Happiness Project" and in his free time, plays tennis and coaches young professionals to crack interviews and get jobs abroad. Vaibhav has a deep passion for both coaching and interviewing and has coached many MBA applicants successfully.

How Can Vaibhav's Experience Benefit You:

No one knows our stories better than we do, but we often do not know how to structure it and share it in the best possible way. Vaibhav has the ability to draw out the best life experiences and transform your raw, unstructured thoughts to well thought out, compelling stories. He asks just the right questions to help you realise what it is that you really want and to co-create a picture of your future. All these conversations fit into our FAME model really well and allow you to leave your sessions with great stories and with an understanding of what you really want and where you really want to go.

Vaibhav has an insanely high rate of conversion based on his interviews. Be it for business schools in the past or in the corporate world now, he has been successful in clearing interviews with ease. He will be very helpful to anyone who wants to be ready for interviews, not just getting into business schools but also in the future once you are trying to land relevant internships and jobs.
Russell
BA, Trinity College
American, based in the US
Russell was the Associate Director of Admissions at Duke University Fuqua School of Business for 11 years. While some may not be as familiar with Fuqua, this program is consistently highly ranked, rating as high as #1 globally by Bloomberg in 2014.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Gates Foundation cofounder Melinda Gates are some of Fuqua’s many distinguished alumni.

Russell is a globally recognized expert on recruitment strategies for international MBA programs recruiting from Asia. He led the Asia recruitment strategy for Duke Fuqua, which is well known as one of the most international US MBA programs, and has consulted with other schools on their Asia recruitment strategy.

Russell has been traveling to Asia for 10+ years and maintains high-level connections in the major cities throughout Asia.

How Russell’s Experience Helps You:

The sheer volume of experience he’s had in making decisions on thousand of MBA applicants over the years means you’ll have the best odds of making the cut in a competitive school.
If you are an Asian student, Russell understands better than anyone what US and international programs are looking for in Asian candidates since consulted on many of their Asian recruiting strategies.
Russell’s infectious personality outs him immediately as a people person. His warmth, encouragement, and heartfelt connection with our clients always earn him rave reviews during the often stressful application process.
Lawrence
Founder, CEO of MBA Link
BsBa, Georgetown University
MBA, Cornell University
American based in Singapore
After working as an admissions consultant for three years, Lawrence founded MBA Link because he didn’t think any other MBA admissions consulting firm was doing enough to support applicants in producing truly outstanding applications. Before working in MBA admissions, Lawrence worked in private wealth management and private equity.

In addition to managing MBA Link, Lawrence supports the MBA students at INSEAD as a career adviser based on the Singapore campus. Lawrence is passionate about entrepreneurship and education and volunteer teaches classes on entrepreneurship in public schools for Junior Achievement Singapore. Lawrence is an American with ethnic origins in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe and spent much of his childhood in Kenya.

How Lawrence’s Experience Benefits You:

Lawrence is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about developing people and making breakthroughs in their professional lives. Anyone who’s spoken to Lawrence knows he has a way of pulling out their best.
Lawrence has lived on 3 separate continents for 5 years or longer, so he knows what it takes to integrate and succeed in a new country.
His father is a celebrated authority on creative problem solving in mathematics, and considering Lawrence’s success in finance and investing, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Bryna
BA, Barnard College
MBA, Yale University
Bryna Kranzler has a unique combination of skills in that she is both a writer and a business school graduate. She earned her B.A. in (Play)writing from Barnard College and her M.B.A. from Yale University School of Organization and Management. She spent 15 years in marketing positions for health care, high tech, and consumer products companies before returning to writing.

She has spent many years assisting students with their college and graduate school application essays. In 2014, she participated in an inaugural Yale Alumni Service Corps project to provide essay coaching and counseling to high-achieving, low-income students in West Virginia — the state with the lowest percentage of college graduates (11.7%) in the U.S. As one of the essay coaches, she worked with students to help them “put [their] heart[s] onto paper” for their application essays.

Bryna’s first book, The Accidental Anarchist, is the winner of multiple awards, including the Readers Favorite Award for Historical/Cultural Non-Fiction, the International Book Award, and National Indie Excellence Award for a Historical Biography.
Melissa
BA, Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business (dual-degree program from The Wharton School and College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania)
MBA, Wharton School of Business
MA, Arts Administration, Columbia University
Malaysian, based in Singapore
In her early career, Melissa successfully revived flagging Baileys sales in North America, and cracked marketing strategy challenges for the likes of American Express, British Telecom, and Frito-Lay as a marketing strategy consultant with Vivaldi Partners in New York.

Prior to that, Melissa began her career in investment banking and distressed debt, and has cut her teeth at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan.

An investigator at heart and a natural storyteller, Melissa loves digging deep to surface unarticulated motivations and unique opportunities for organizations or individuals, and weaving them into a compelling narrative to bring their story to life.  

She has done this in various capacities: as an innovation strategist in NYC and London with ?What If!, a boutique innovation consultancy, and as an opera performer and dramatic coach that is constantly looking for new angles to interpret text and unearth new insight into the stories and characters in her music.

Passionate about coaching and empowering individuals to realize their fullest potential, Melissa loves bringing her unique coaching approach to business school admissions to others as an admissions coach.In her spare time, Melissa enjoys little adventures with her toddler and working with arts non-profits to grow the opera audience in Asia for wonderful music that she believes still has the power to move and inspire us in magical ways.

How Melissa’s Experience Benefits You:

If you don’t know how to position yourself, rely on Melissa’s artsy and perceptive way of thinking combined with her exceptional academic experience to craft a compelling story about yourself.
After many years of admissions consulting experience, Melissa has honed a supportive yet firm hand in guiding candidates through the process.

If you are an MBA candidate with an artistic side, Melissa will show you how to merge your two worlds into one unbeatable combination.
Shawn
BA, Economics, University of Pennsylvania
MBA, Harvard Business School
American, based in the US
Shawn has over 15 years of investment banking experience, including time spent with Credit Suisse and Bank of Montreal.  He has participated in dozens of corporate finance transactions,  including mergers & acquisitions, corporate divestitures, leveraged buyouts and the sale of private and family-held businesses.

Additionally, Shawn has advised and consulted with several start-ups and middle market organizations.

He has significant experience developing and implementing strategies and solutions that achieve consensus among key stakeholders across organizations. Shawn also has 7 years of experience as an Alumni Interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania.

How Shawn’s Experience Benefits You:

If your career goals lean toward finance, Shawn is the expert you need.
Shawn is the kind of person who can take a big picture goal and implement it through minute detail.
As a resume coach, Shawn knows how to present you in the best light.
Venus
BA, Journalism, New York University
MBA, London Business School
Chinese, based in Canada
Venus is a former writer and editor turned brand marketing strategist, with experience in the travel, retail, and CPG industries. Her focus is on helping brands reach and build loyalty among consumers, often through creative storytelling. Her role as essay coach with MBA Link also revolves around helping clients tell compelling stories in their applications.

A graduate of London Business School, Venus now serves as an alumni interviewer for the organization.

How Venus' Experience Benefits You:

If you're looking to make a career switch, Venus can help transform your past experience and future ambition into one cohesive story
If there's an idea you want to convey but need help bringing to life, Venus will help you find the right words to craft your narrative
If you're a shy or naturally reserved candidate, Venus can share some time-tested tips for overcoming nerves and owning the spotlight!