Generation Z perceive "personal branding" as a key tool for success in the job market.
For Generation Z, "personal brand," or the image they build on social networks, represents a crucial tool for their professional success. For these newcomers to the job market, the goal is to show prospective employers a true and authentic image of themselves. As such, Gen Zers do not hesitate to share their experiences, but also their weaknesses and imperfections.
A new British study, published in the journal Information Technology & People, reveals that cultivating one's personal brand on social networks has become essential for Generation Z in order to get hired. Conducted by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the University of Greenwich, the research reveals that this strategy must be as authentic as possible. It should reflect the experiences, expertise and skills gained from previous studies and work. But this professional branding should not be misleading, nor should it mask the weaknesses and imperfections of Gen Zers seeking employment.
"Image consistency is becoming a critical concern for Gen Z to highlight their skillsets to potential employers. We found that authenticity was perceived to play a central role in personal branding, as well as being the most crucial characteristic of Gen Z online personal brands that employers expected to find," explains co-author Dr Wenjie Cai, from the University of Greenwich, quoted in a news release.
The researchers' findings suggest that Generation Z uses this online presence as a strategy to build greater levels of trust and engagement with employers.
To conduct the study, Generation Z students in their final year at a UK university were surveyed about their personal brand. Recruiters and career advisors were interviewed to better understand their recruitment processes and online personal brand expectations. They then carried out professional interviews.
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Gen Z students' profiles on professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn were reviewed in advance and then incorporated into the interview process. Strategies such as effective self-reflection, authentic communication, self-promotional processes, risk awareness, and constant monitoring of digital footprints are required to build strong and consistent personal brands.
"Previous research has argued that professionals tend to maintain a perfect image online, but we find that for Gen Z jobseekers, an imperfect online image works better," said study co-author Prof Alastair Morrison at the University of Greenwich.
According to the researchers, universities should seek personal brand information from Generation Z students. The goal would be to better understand them and coach them in various ways to achieve their personal goals and objectives based on their skills, knowledge, and opportunities for training and advancement. Meanwhile, companies should do more to engage with student jobseekers. For example, by sharing their organizational cultures, and be open about specific job expectations.