Every MBA knows the importance of a LinkedIn profile. But how many of you see Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as a recruiting tool? Your digital footprint has never been more important. Not only can it assist in getting onto the MBA program of your dreams, but will help you launch a career after graduation.
With big data a key component in the recruitment process for big consulting, finance and technology firms, your "digital tattoo" is an essential tool for HR staff to understand you better.
But your social media footprint can also be detrimental to your chances of getting hired. It can lead recruiters on a path to discovering everything that you would rather they not know. Big data is nothing new in the MBA world, but any hiring manager can do a quick Google search to find out every detail of your personal lives. It is not a process reserved for big companies.
What many in the b-school world might forget is that some schools check your social media profiles before letting you onto MBA programs. A drunken photo from your partying days at undergrad can sink your application.
Director of MBA programs at Manchester Business School (MBS), Prof Elaine Ferneley, is an expert in the field of social media for MBAs. Her research interests are in technological innovation and change, and she is a member of the EPSRC Advisory Board for the UK Digital Economy. Her consultancy work has focused on how social networking technologies and mobile technologies shape working practices in knowledge intensive organizations.
Head of the MBS MBA, one of the highest programs in the MBA Rankings in the UK, Elaine thinks social media is a key tool for marketing yourself. "A lot of people say you need a LinkedIn profile, but its beyond that," she said.
"What's critical is that people realize that their digital presence is their personal brand. Weather sharing personal photos on Instagram, Tweeting about experience of being in a nice restaurant or a business event, all of that combined noise in social media is actually becoming your digital persona."
She acknowledges that a bad social media profile is a bad application in the MBA Jobs world. "It's important than MBAs understand that they have a digital profile and 'tattoo'," she said. "What you're creating is a very public statement of your journey as an individual.
"MBAs need to be careful and be aware that it's there for life. I'm aware that some others can live to regret their digital tattoos." Some business schools also keep tabs on you throughout the course and can shape MBA Admission. Asked if MBS screen social media for MBA applicants, Elaine said: "Yes we do, and we keep an eye on them during their journey."
Elaine is holding an exclusive event in London on October 16 to tell you more about Manchester's MBA programs. The university just launched a new 2.5 year MBA program, designed to allow you to spend six months of employment immersion during the course.
MBS is not the only b-school to hold events relevant to social media. The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University recently held a conference to debate big data earlier in the year. They invited faculty members, students and business executives from the US to talk about ways to incorporate big data in classrooms - a video of the conference can be accessed here.
Employers are keen to check social media before penning job deals. Brenda Dietrich, IBM Fellow and Vice President in the IBM Research Divisions, told Business Insider how they’re utilizing big data to efficiently manage the size of their workforce.
UCLA MBA Jon Bischke last year launched a tool that allows HR managers to run mass searches on candidates for IT jobs - including 'passive' people who are not actively job hunting. Online recruitment giant LinkedIn has a busy team of data scientists building targeting tools for recruiters to access candidates and mine information quickly from the LinkedIn database.
Elaine thinks that social media and the Internet will become a key component in the business world. According to her, many MBAs at MBS want to switch industries, and because MBS is a global program, students can work in different sectors around the globe. They have global centers around the world that build relationships with businesses in that area. MBS MBAs have the chance to move locations as well as industries.
Social media is an "essential tool" in the MBA world. "Obviously the divide between peoples professional and personal lives will fall, and it's not a negative thing," she said. "When we employ somebody we want to employ not only business skills but also soft skills.
"How do you understand what someone soft skills are? Well, you can find out a lot about soft skills or personality by looking at how someone represents themselves. What concerns me is MBAs looking at social media in a negative way, rather than an opportunity to present themselves to employers."
Taking a significant time out of work to study a relatively expensive MBA is a risk-associated investment. While MBS sees 81 per cent of graduates in employment after three months, the full-time MBA in 2014 is expected to cost $60,840. But Elaine says that MBS is different because they don't pull students out of work for too long, because "its far too high a risk".
Manchester seeks to put students back into the employment pool, spending over 600 hours of contact time with clients over 18-months and working on practical projects within the first week of study. With such a risk associated with studying for 18-months, Elaine says you should keep your social media clean to enhance your job prospects. "Yes, I think its important that MBAs do (keep their social media clean)," she said.
"As IT is developing at such a fast rate, we still think our behavior in ecommerce channels is separate from LinkedIn or Twitter. But its only a matter of time before all these channels will merge."
While you should think twice about posting embarrassing images on Facebook, or sending offensive tweets, you shouldn't just be aware of the dangers of social media. You can use your online profile to market yourself to employers.
Most MBAs will know why HR staff use big data as an effective recruitment tool. You can read this guide to hear from experts in the field. But the importance of your digital footprint is more popular than ever and we live in a transparent online society. Social media will only become more and more important in the MBA world; and as Manchester's MBA Director says, it is up to you to use it positively.
To visit Elaine's MBS event or find out more information, click here.