The concept of building a personal brand may initially appear reserved for celebrities and influencers. However, the rise of LinkedIn has shown that anyone can cultivate their own personal brand through well-crafted posts and meaningful engagement.
In recent times, students and young professionals have recognized the value of personal branding as a crucial tool for success in today’s competitive global job markets. A personal brand involves both differentiating oneself from others and shaping how others perceive you.
The manner in which you present yourself online can have a significant impact on your career prospects. To gain deeper insights into the art of personal branding, we have interviewed those who excel at it – final year university students from Generation Z. Additionally, we have consulted recruiters and career advisors to understand the process of creating personal brands on LinkedIn.
Our findings revealed that Generation Z values a dynamic, interactive, and work-in-progress style of personal branding rather than one that feels overly polished and artificial. They share their ongoing projects, struggles, and challenges in the professional world, actively inviting followers to contribute ideas and suggestions.
Contrary to seeking an image of flawlessness, Gen Z individuals are willing to showcase their imperfections and weaknesses. One recruiter we spoke with stated that this approach helps candidates “stand out from the crowd and makes me stop and look at them rather than just clicking to the next profile.” Here are some valuable tips for crafting your own personal brand:
- Stay Up to Date Employers now expect young professionals to utilize platforms such as LinkedIn to build an authentic and distinctive online profile. These profiles serve as a means for evaluating potential hires’ talents, professional skills, and compatibility with company culture. The more current and detailed your profile is, the easier it becomes for the right employer to discover you. It is crucial to remember that you may not work for the same organizations throughout your career, so maintaining and refreshing your online persona is of utmost importance.
One career advisor expressed concern that students were “underselling themselves” on LinkedIn by only providing mandatory information such as their name and current job title. The advisor recommended including specific details about achievements in a role and soliciting endorsements and testimonials from colleagues, which go beyond the scope of a traditional CV.
A recruiter also noted that some employers now prefer online profiles over CVs, as they offer a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s personal brand.
- Embrace Your Weaknesses While constructing your online profile, it may seem natural to focus solely on your strengths and successes. However, our interviews revealed that showcasing your weaknesses and imperfections can yield significant benefits.
Posts about the challenges and struggles faced in learning or workplaces demonstrate to potential employers what makes you unique and highlight your ability to self-reflect and grow from mistakes. Participants in our study emphasized that such posts are popular among followers, sparking conversations and ultimately enhancing personal brands.
For instance, one student wrote a LinkedIn post about her writing skills and her desire to improve them. The post garnered hundreds of likes and comments, including advice, encouragement, and similar stories from individuals in her network.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The relentless pursuit of a flawless personal brand can lead to procrastination, fears of judgment or rejection, and detachment from the job search process as a whole.
- Engage with Others A strong personal brand not only revolves around your own profile but also involves actively engaging with others to demonstrate your dedication and interest in the profession. Initiate conversations, gather thoughts, and seek feedback from peers within your field. Similar to the student who shared her journey of improvement in writing, you can share stories about achieving goals or overcoming obstacles. Posts that narrate the process of success (or failure) can ignite discussions, bolster your personal brand, and capture the attention of recruiters and employers.
- Separate Personal and Professional Life It is essential to utilize privacy settings effectively and keep your personal and professional lives separate to uphold your personal brand.
Regularly monitoring your social media profiles is paramount in managing the online persona you desire. Carefully consider the choice of language and writing style on LinkedIn, taking into account the industry and companies where you aspire to work.
While your posts on professional platforms can have a personal touch, ensure they are presented from a professional context and not something you wouldn’t want recruiters to come across. For example, avoid sharing photos of partying or engaging in activities that may raise concerns about your professionalism. Some of our Generation Z participants took the additional step of searching their names on Google and other social media platforms to monitor the images and posts associated with their name.
By maintaining a clear distinction between your personal and professional life online, you can cultivate a personal brand that resonates with potential employers and showcases your commitment to professionalism.
In conclusion, the concept of personal branding has transcended the realm of celebrities and influencers. Generation Z students have recognized its importance in establishing a competitive edge in the job market. Embracing a dynamic and authentic approach, they share their ongoing projects, challenges, and weaknesses, inviting engagement and conversation. Staying up to date, showcasing your weaknesses, engaging with others, and maintaining a professional online presence are key elements to crafting a successful personal brand.
As you navigate your career journey, remember that building a personal brand is an ongoing process. Continuously updating and refining your online persona will ensure that you stand out to employers and maintain a strong professional presence.