Twentysomething: Gen Y is better than everyone else at marketing themselves

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This is a guest post from Dan Schawbel. He is 25 years old and already, the New York Times has called him a “personal branding guru.” Dan’s book is Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and it just came out today.

Personal branding describes a process where individuals differentiate themselves from a crowd by articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leverage it across platforms with a consistent message to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.

Here are five reasons why Generation Y is better at this process than everyone else:

1. We have the least amount of responsibilities.
Personal branding is a very time consuming exercise that most adults don't do because of the sheer amount of responsibilities they have, which are priorities to them. However, the more time you invest in your personal marketing efforts, the more successful you'll be. For Gen Y, the amount of hours we have left after classes, interships and jobs, is still greater than an older person in the workforce, with twin babies, a pet dog and a list of errands. Millennials can stay up till 2 or 3 a.m. growing our personal brands using social media tools, such as blogs and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Brazen Careerist, to become more well known in our industry.

2. We’re already marketing ourselves intuitively.
We're all marketing ourselves without thinking much of it, but Gen Y is doing it on steroids. Gen Y is all hyper-connected with mass media, including the fact that their cell phones are an extension of their hands and that we go online more than any other generation. Every time we send out a text message to fifty of our friends or update our status on Facebook to a few thousand friends, we're marketing ourselves to our world. Then our network spreads our messages to an even greater audience in just minutes. The many marketing lists we're building online, such as Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and YouTube channel subscribers, are assets that will be useful today and in years to come. Companies that we work for can get the word out for free using our networks.

3. We are equipped with a bottomless pit of marketing tools.
Every communication channel is a marketing tool, and since Gen Y is the most plugged in generation, there isn't a tool we don't touch. Aside from the phone and in-person meetings, Gen Y has instant messaging, Skype, social networks, blogging, podcast and more. By using these tools, Gen Y delivers messages faster and in different forms, so we can build our personal brand in a shorter period of time. Members of Gen Y are very proficient using these tools because we grew up with technology and can easily adapt to the changing technological landscape, whereas other generations have a longer learning curve.

4. We understand how to build personal connections to build a brand.
Gen Y'ers are the masters of social media, which means we understand that marketing exists through other people. We use social media tools to put us in touch with other people who can help make us more successful. Since we are young, we can connect with older generations who can share experiences, lessons learned and other career advice. We are more productive at work by being connected to more people who can help answer questions. Gen Y-ers can position themselves in their company as the go-to-person for all technology needs, making them an invaluable asset to their work group.

5. They have no choice but to be marketing mavens.
Standing out among the millions of job seekers is quite hard in this economy and the competition to succeed in any industry isn't declining anytime soon. Internship hiring will be cut by 21%, co-op hiring by 11% and 22% less jobs for 2009 graduates, according to NACE. The amount of pressure on millennials is immense and it forces them to rethink the way they are perceived and how they market themselves to stand out from the pack. Gen Y can showcase our website, blog and other unique items that can differentiate us, relative to other applicants that are applying for the same jobs. We spend more time figuring out what makes us unique, compelling and marketable to employers because otherwise we’ll be jobless.

This is a guest post from Dan Schawbel. He is 25 years old and already, the New York Times has called him a “personal branding guru.” Dan’s book is Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and it just came out today.

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  1. elysa
    elysa says:

    I think #3 can go both ways, especially with Gen Y. Some Gen Yers aren’t aware how easily they can create a negative personal brand because of the size of their network. So I agree that Gen Y does great self-promotion but might add be careful what you’re promoting.

    As always, thanks for the insight Dan.

    PS – hi P’lope! :)

  2. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Although I applaud the enthusiasm for Dan’s Me 2.0 concept and the clever term, these are not new concepts. The channels and the technology are different, but the overall “build your brand” and networking are as old as business itself.

  3. Matt Cheuvront
    Matt Cheuvront says:

    I think the last point you make speaks volumes: ‘They have no choice but to be marketing mavens’.

    That is the situation we are in, like it or not – using the web to network and promote yourself is no longer a ‘bandwagon’ to jump on – it’s a way of life for 20-somethings, and it’s necessary, for better or for worse, for people to use the power of the web to market themselves, build there personal brand, and get noticed. But, the process is two-fold. We have to not only ourselves, we have to focus on contributing to the community, adding to discussions, providing a unique perspective, giving people something to take-away and remember us by. We have to be proactive and outgoing.

    It’s not as easy as saying ‘This is why I’m great and here’s why you should love me’. It’s about adding value to everything you do. And THAT is where you establish a reputation, THAT is where you mold and shape your personal brand. Not only in your own neck of the woods, but in communities in networks all over the place.

    Reach out, and you’ll be amazed at what you get in return for your efforts.

  4. Lance Haun
    Lance Haun says:

    The critic’s message is that “we” are also good at marketing because of high ego drives and self-absorption which is why I caution Gen Y’ers to be balanced in their approach.

    I think the good part about your argument is that you are a great example of that balance: Someone who gives back enough to others that people don’t mind when you want to share a bazillion stories about your book. But I’ve seen those who are only interested in serving themselves and being self-absorbed and those are usually the social media dumpster fires you read about.

    Balance baby. Balance.

  5. Anna
    Anna says:

    So what’s the message here, or is this just mental masturbation? I can’t imagine anyone is googling blog posts on how great gen Y is. Let’s move on to something else.

    Instead of talking about how great you are, how about some tips for how previous generations can adopt gen y’s self-marketing mentality?

    • Danilo Campos
      Danilo Campos says:

      Anna, that’s a fair point. I’m never terribly fond of PT’s twentysomething guest posts, and I’m never sure why. I think you nailed it for me.

      As a 24 year old, I wish my generation would spend more time solving genuine problems and less time congratulating ourselves for how special we are.

      This post would have been infinitely more useful and accessible were its angle “What Gen Y can teach you about branding yourself.”

  6. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    @Dan: This is yet another example of grand, sweeping statements backed up by absolutely nothing. You don’t necessarily need to include hard statistics, but what about examples of how this works? Right now it’s just you saying it, and that doesn’t demonstrate anything at all.

    Besides, neither branding nor personal branding is new. Labels? Yes, fairly new. Tools? Sure, lots of those are new. Concepts? Not at all new.

  7. GInger Rose
    GInger Rose says:

    I know that if I want a dose of pablum, I can rely on the Twentysomething feature @ Brazen Careerist. One question — if you’re in your twenties and haven’t accomplished much yet, what are you promoting? The promise of accomplishment, or perhaps just nothing at all? The first point — “Personal branding is a very time consuming exercise that most adults don't do because of the sheer amount of responsibilities they have” — had me laughing out loud. I read it as admitting that Ge Yers have nothing better to do than to promote themselves.

    Get a hobby, already.
    And get off my lawn!!

    • Matt Cheuvront
      Matt Cheuvront says:

      Hey Ginger – I agree with your point here, this post does come off a bit as ‘We have nothing better to do than to personal brand ourselves’. Speaking as a twenty-something Gen Y’er myself – I see personal branding as nothing more than putting yourself out there and engaging with others. It’s really nothing specific to generation-y, the only difference is, we grew up in this tech-savvy environment, so maybe we have a step up and know how to use these ‘new tools’ to our advantage.

      It’s not about promoting myself and my professional accomplishments. You can look at my resume, and while it’s nothing to slouch at for a 23 year old, it’s not impressive by any means. I promote myself as a human being, I promote my passions, thoughts, emotions, and opinions – I am actively involved in countless numbers of conversations and ongoing discussions. Each one leaves a bread crumb back to the ‘ME’ in everything – who I am, my personal brand, and the legacy I continue to build around myself.

      I don’t think it’s restricted to generations, I just think we have grown up as the web-generation and learned from an early age how valuable of a tool it can be to advance your ‘personal brand’ to the masses.

      • GInger Rose
        GInger Rose says:

        Hi, Matt. You promote yourself as a ‘human being’, not as a worker, in the workplace? How odd. I thought workplaces were a place to do, you know, work. ‘Hire me because I give good talk’ seems to be the sales pitch. Talk without results is, as they say, pretty cheap.

  8. Martha
    Martha says:

    What I notice about this guy is that he can’t spell “achieve” correctly. So the take-away brand message I get is: Remember not to hire this guy for public outreach, because he can’t even get right things that he must have seen ten thousand times.

  9. Bill
    Bill says:

    Are there any Gen Y’s in a profession other than marketing? Doesn’t seem like it, unless you count blogging from Mom and Dad’s basement while half-heartedly searching for that “dream job” as a profession.

  10. david
    david says:

    Interesting article, but I disagree with the premise that Gen Y is the most productive, lined-in, networked generation.

    The biggest thing I see is Point 4; I’m not sure that Gen Y has some innate ability to build a network that leads to brand building.

    This implies that individuals of Gen Y population as a whole each have some inherent personal brand to build and promote.

    I would be surprised to see any sort of evidence or research that indicates the majority of this 20 something population have so individually self-developed at this point in their young careers, that they have a personalized and developed “brand” to offer to the world.

    Kudos to the generation as a whole if they do though!

  11. Steve
    Steve says:

    With respect to #5, this is quite frankly, baloney.

    In the early 1980s, we were in a recession as deep as this one. Young workers had just as much difficulty finding employment as they do today. The difference I see is that many GenY who think marketing and personal branding is all they can do have chosen to surrender any effort in doing what it takes to build a resume or work experience that then translates to an employee with value to a prospective employer.

    You have to have accomplished something beyond blogging about your European sabbatical after college and what you did with your friends last weekend. That has NO value in the corporate world.

    But if accomplishing something means that you waited tables, worked in a warehouse, made copies for the accounting department, or other such mundane work (which quite frankly many of my fellow boomers did to get their feet in the door) to make ends meet and get independent and into the workforce, that is at the very least an indication of your character and determination to succeed.

    Waiting for the dream job and assuming that blogging and affiliate marketing from home as the extent of your job experience is not in my humble opinion the pathway to that job where you can earn a good living on your iPhone working from wherever you want when you want.

  12. boohoo
    boohoo says:

    I think you meant, “upper middle class college graduate generation Yers with a support system”

    Everyone has errands and the less people you have helping out with that stuff, the less time you have for self-marketing. The reality that the gen Yers have more time than an older persons in the workforce, with twin babies, a pet dog and a list of errands HAS ALWAYS BEEN TRUE for “upper middle class college graduate generation Yers with a support system”

    This a a “time” “age” and “money” issue and not a generational issue. All good points here, but its all applicable to segments of the other generations. I saw these patterns with “rich Gen X friends” and my mother saw it with “rich Boomer friends”.

    Steve, also has a good point.

  13. sophie
    sophie says:

    I agree with the comments wondering just what all this “personal branding” actually does. Yes, I see it’s getting your name out there and you’re networking with lots of people. And yes, networking is important (I suppose the term networking is outdated a bit?)

    But, really, what are you DOING? When do you actually get any work done? All this time spent blogging, twittering, and whatnot is very time consuming and if you are anything but a marketing person, it definitely takes away from constructive action time.

    Has anyone spent much time going through Brazen Career bloggers? Read 2-3 people’s blogs and you’ve read them all. They all write about the same things, they all link back and forth to one another, and they all feed each other with comments. It’s a given when Penelope covers a topic, within a day the trickle affect starts with each of her Gen Y bloggers. There’s so much self-analyzation and wondering about life I want to yell “quit thinking, get off the computer and start living!”

  14. Melanie E. Dunn
    Melanie E. Dunn says:

    If Facebook and Twitter are such great marketing tools, why do most of their users only broadcast things like “[Name] is sooo hungover from the party last night!” or “[Name] does not want to go work today!”

    • Justin Pickard
      Justin Pickard says:

      If that’s all you see, you’re doing it wrong. :D

      (In other words, it’s more about how you choose to use these tools … social networking platforms are more about authenticity than credibility and – as such – arre resistant to standard marketing practice. Admitting imperfection and weakness encourages others to deal with you as a person, rather than some faceless marketing bot. But yes, if the hungover and the workshy are dominating your feed, you need to find yourself some better contacts.)

      • GInger Rose
        GInger Rose says:

        Actually, Twitter, etc. aren’t resistant to corporate marketing practices. Soon, Twitter marketing will be standard; the learning curve’s a little steep, but I still remember a pre-commodified web.

        What I keep reading in these comments is a lack of distinction between the ‘authentic’ self and the ‘professional’ self. I think it’s an appealing dream to be able to live a full integrated life, where the person you are with your friends and family can be the person you are at work. But trust me, no one at work wants to hear about your benders, whether or not you’re being authentic.

  15. Lyrehca
    Lyrehca says:

    It doesn’t matter one bit if you market yourself if you can’t get the details right.

    Was it the New York Times or U.S. News and World Report that called this guy a guru? (See the intro and the bio at the end of the post).

  16. Gene
    Gene says:

    Really? Again with the Gen Y self promotion? Why? Is this generation’s collective capability so much in question? Doest thou protest too much? Is this generation so busy marketing itself it doesn’t bother to do its homework about other groups? Crikey, every generation can claim it has more tools to work with then the prior one. Does the number of marketing tools at one disposal automatically translate into the users being better marketers? I suppose it does if the party claiming credit thinks no further than its own nose.

  17. david
    david says:

    Sophie’s comment –

    “But, really, what are you DOING?”

    Couldn’t be said more starkly than that.

    Marketing-cum-networking-cum-blogging … In the 90s, pyramid schemes were all the rage (I get you to get 5 people to join/link, who in turn each get 5 more people to join/link…) – seems they still are.

    You know the score.

    People are connected, but what is actually produced?

    • Justin Pickard
      Justin Pickard says:

      Off the top of my head: wikipedia, hexayurts, ubuntu, Barack Obama, OhMyNews, The Huffington Post, protein folding, Craigslist, eBay, $500 genetically-modified organisms, and large swathes of the microfinance sector.

      I mean, I do understand your point, but this kind of navel-gazing/contact-gathering (at its least self-indulgent) is actually at the root of a whole lot of peer production practices … things that wouldn’t have previously been possible … and a model that seems to be proliferating at great speed.

      • david
        david says:

        Gen Yers may use the above, but in that respect, that makes them consumers rather creators.

        Craigslist – developed by Craig Newmark c.1995 (genX)
        Ebay – by Pierre Omidyar c.1995 (genX)
        Huffington Post – by Arianna c.2006 (boomer)
        OhMyNews – by Oh Yeon Ho c.2000 (genX)

        I think navel-gazing is essential, and does in fact lead to the next generation of trend-setters.

        I just have yet see Gen Y as trend-setters Currently.

        By like all generations, their time will come …

  18. timdellinger
    timdellinger says:

    Reasons that Personal Branding is silly for GenY:

    1. It’s too early to brand yourself. Imagine Luke Skywalker’s personal brand before he met Obi Wan. No significant experience = nothing to talk about.

    2. Despite what you think, you’re not unique or compelling. I’ve met you before. A hundred times.

    3. The people who matter don’t see your brand. People who don’t have time to use Facebook or MySpace certainly don’t grasp the subtleties of the medium, let alone trust it enough to base decisions on it.

    4. Your blog is boring. It’s great that you’re going though self examination and that you’re learning about human nature and the things that make the world work. It’s just not compelling to anyone but your peers.

    Tim Dellinger

    • Matt Cheuvront
      Matt Cheuvront says:

      In response to Tim

      1. You may not have ‘experience’ to brand, but it’s never too early to start networking, communicating, and engaging within personal and professional communities.

      2. So no one is unique or compelling? What makes someone unique? Are we all, and by ‘we’ I mean everyone, not just twenty-something's, just boring sheep that no one cares about? Sounds like a pretty pessimistic outlook on life.

      3. I’ll agree that personal branding is more than putting yourself out on social networking sites. You have to get OFF the computer and meet people, but the two can go hand-in-hand.

      4. I disagree – self examination is a part of life, an unexamined life is not worth living. I’m not trying to drop philosophical jargon on you (even though I just did) – but I learn a lot about myself through the process of self examination and self actualization. Other’s opinions and ideas (while many should be taken with a grain of salt) contribute to my overall growth as a human being. It sounds like you are too quick to discount other’s opinions and throw out the ‘no one cares’ card.

      • GInger Rose
        GInger Rose says:

        “it’s never too early to start networking, communicating, and engaging within personal and professional communities.”
        — that’s true, but you can do that without a brand. Indeed, you’ll look less like an ass without the whole ‘brand’ baggage.

        “So no one is unique or compelling? ”
        — I think what he means is that if everyone is a chattering brandbot, he’s heard it before.

        “You have to get OFF the computer and meet people, but the two can go hand-in-hand.”
        — that’s right, and in some cases computer contact facilitates face to face meetings. In other cases, they can inhibit them. When two brandbots get together, it’s ugly.

        “self examination is a part of life, an unexamined life is not worth living.”
        — nothing wrong with self-examination, but do you have to share it all?

  19. DT
    DT says:

    At least stop saying “we.” I’m 26, but I’m not like you, and this is getting embarrassing. Penelope, these columns are stupid and they hurt your personal brand. Should I even bother going through the list of problems here?

    1. The bios at the the top and bottom don’t match. You only need one, and was it the NY Times or US News and World Report?

    2. Not every 20-something has your life. Really. What about poor people? People who didn’t go to college? People who (*gasp*) don’t own a computer? You can be young and still have responsibilities.

    3. What is a “longer learning curve”? That phrase doesn’t mean anything. While we’re at it, less vs. fewer: while there are some good prescriptivist arguments for using them interchangeably, your usage was jarring.

    4. You didn’t actually say anything that is useful to anyone else. You’ve branded yourself, to be sure, but you’ve branded yourself a tool.

    The thing about branding is that it’s like dressing well, or being able to make interesting conversation. Those things are hugely helpful in your career. But if you have no actual substance, they won’t get you far. I’m a scientist. If I don’t ACTUALLY PRODUCE RESULTS, nobody will care how charming and unique and special and snowflake-like I am.

    Penelope: please stop posting this guy. The posts make you look bad! What if a potential investor comes to your site, skims this column (investors are busy people, after all), and then leaves in disgust because he or she thinks that you wrote this nonsense? Or even that you endorse it?

    • Lou
      Lou says:

      I wish more young people (and I don’t say that deprecatingly at all, even though I could be your mother) wrote (and thought) like you. You even noticed the bad grammar. Wow.
      I wish everyone (young, ‘young,’ and ‘old’) would stop to question the status quo instead of chasing their own tails. Okay, one’s own tail is familiar and interesting, but there’s a lot more out there…. The examined life is not narcissism. It means not being in denial about one’s flaws and true motivations; that self-knowledge brings us closer to what counts: connection to others in an honest and cooperative manner.
      Too much of ‘branding’ (and other business-world paradigms) seems to focus on ambition as its own reward. You don’t have to be under 30 to be a money-mad, tunnel-thinking egotist with no regard for anything that doesn’t provide support for # 1. If, on Earth Day, no less, we want a hint of how we got to the point of soiling our own nest so egregiously, I vote for that!

  20. Anca
    Anca says:

    Have to agree with Anna, Danilo, and KateNonymous.

    Penelope, I would encourage you to stop showcasing all these boring guest posts from my fellow know-it-all Gen Y-ers. We’re not all so fixated on blogging about social networking and marketing.

  21. Sara
    Sara says:

    Okay. . . so Gen Y has more time to market themselves using social media. Is that different than the time that Gen X or the Boomers had to market themselves using cocktail hours and actual networking sessions? If so, HOW is it different?

    “Exposure” is not the same as “marketing.” I see no evidence ANYWHERE in this article that relates to the forethought and self-knowledge necessary to create a cohesive personal brand.

  22. Robert
    Robert says:

    You’ve apparently got the sizzle, but what about the steak? It’s great that Gen Y can stay up until 2am without lots of consequences, but can you deliver large and complex projects on a global scale?

  23. Bob Shawgo
    Bob Shawgo says:

    I find much of what Gen Y is contributing is revived from previous generations and re-purposed for current technology. The problem comes when they don’t know that they’ve borrowed it and don’t understand it’s context. They run the risk of tripping over the same rock as their grandparents who had their own little awareness revolution. I have high hopes for gen-Y to contribute something original that really boosts the GNP.

    • Marcia
      Marcia says:

      My thoughts exactly, Bob. The last time I had a good laugh on this site was when I read that the boomers had polluted the environment. It seems the Ys don’t know who to credit or blame.

  24. Akhila
    Akhila says:

    I’ve read through some of the comments, and as a part of this so-called “Gen Y” who loves to blog, here’s my 2 cents.

    1. I personally have gained a lot out of social networking. Although I don’t particularly have a strong online personal brand, I find a lot of value out of using Twitter and blogging in the right way. I’ve connected with many people in the fields I’m interested in; I was able to email them for job and career advice and was able to gain SO SO SO much incredibly helpful information regarding jobs out of college. This was very beneficial to me and I think personal branding helps to connect you to those people and helps you definitely improve your own knowledge and skills in terms of job hunting and figuring out what you want to do in life.

    2. Even though I am only 20 and a current college student, I don’t think its fair to say I (or my peers) have absolutely no experience. Sure, perhaps I don’t have extensive experience working in a corporation or firm, but I do have my own interests, passions, and talents. I have taken on significant leadership positions throughout my college career and have worked on starting up and revitalizing clubs on campus. I’ve lead teams of students, and I’ve written for the daily newspaper at my school. I think I’m a hard worker, both in my studies and also in my activities. And through my major I have learned a lot about the world – politics and economics. Is that so wrong for me to want to create a personal brand showcasing my interests? Many personal brands for 20 somethings aren’t all about claiming they are an expert, but just about speaking from the experience they DO have, even if it’s little, and drawing important lessons from that that we can impart to others.

    I do think it’s wrong to say that EVERYONE in my generation wants to blog and establish a personal brand, but I don’t think its ludicrous for us to want to do so as part of our personal and professional development.

  25. Adam
    Adam says:

    Woo woo Gen Y is the most awesome generation ever! It’s fantastic that our generation is social media savvy but let’s be real; the low barrier to entry of social media has created a glut of crap columns, self proclaimed experts, and repetitive/ recycled sets of “tips, tricks, dos, don’ts, top 10’s, 11’s, 12’s” and any other numbered list that is more reflective of the limit of the writer’s ideas rather than an judicious selection of truly top concepts developed through experience and trial and error.

    Personal branding is a valid skill and the expanding number of mediums by which you can achieve it are exciting; but there are only so many ways you can tell people how great you are. At some point we as a generation (and country not to get too preachy) should turn our attention to the true value add (product quality/ development, consumer satisfaction, competitive advantage, etc.) that can be gained through social media tools rather than the bs perceived value add (almost everything posted on this blog and the crazen bareerist).

  26. Matt Cheuvront
    Matt Cheuvront says:

    @ Ginger – I promote myself as a worker and a human being. I am a worker right now, working for one of the largest Ad agencies in the Southeast, but my HUMAN qualities are what make me a good worker and an asset to any company. My results in the workplace (and outside of it) speak for themselves. We (collectively) sell ourselves as a ‘total package’ not just a widget that can come in and function within a specific heavily structured task. There are some companies that require that, and to those, I show no interest. I have no right to be extremely choosy in my career path at this point, but I know what kind of environment I will and will not be super-successful in. Can I do something I don’t love and that I’m not passionate about, of course – but in the end I want to use both my work and human talents and want a company that enables and encourages both (my current situation is such). I talk the talk and walk the walk.

    • GInger Rose
      GInger Rose says:

      “I have no right to be extremely choosy in my career path at this point, but I know what kind of environment I will and will not be super-successful in.”

      I’m impressed that you have such extensive self-knowledge at this point. I think what puts me and some of the other commenters off here is that I don’t see any possibility that you might… you know… learn something about yourself in the future that throws much of this in disarray.

      I conduct research on youth and development, and let me tell you, when you’re in your mid twenties you’re still figuring things out. Hell, I’m in my forties and I’m still figuring things out, and have the humility to acknowledge life as a big learning curve. It’s the arrogance of such a position which makes me feel sorry for you. You know already, for sure, what makes you happy. What do you think of Penelope’s earlier advice to try out lots of things when you’re young? Really. Do it now, it’ll be a lot easier than when you’re older. In my twenties I was a musician.

      And yes, I’m sure you’re a very unique and special people, but you need to realize that there are lots and lots of unique and special people in the world, and success often depends less on branding than on dumb luck, and some hard work.

      • Matt Cheuvront
        Matt Cheuvront says:

        We can banter back and forth all you want – you can be right, I can be right, neither of us can be right – your ‘elder’ status does not make you an expert on me knowing what I do and do not like. I'm not an expert, and I never claimed to be. You seem to be labeling me as an ‘arrogant know-it-all’ which is FAR from the truth. I’m 23, I graduated college a year ago, I have NO IDEA what I want to do with my life – I am going to try new things, I have pondered everything from selling billboards to opening a coffee shop to joining the Peace Corps. Believe me – I am extremely open-minded when it comes to trying new things.

        But yes, as amazing and as shocking as it may be, at the age of twenty three, I know I will never fit in to a company that doesn’t value me as an employee and give me some room for creativity. I will never be a pencil-pusher doing something I hate. I’m not doing that right now, I love my job, it’s great experience, especially for someone my age. If I have to take a step back at some point and do something less appealing, I’ll take two more steps forward after that.

        Look, I don’t claim to be an expert on life or the human condition, but I am far from this ‘over entitled lazy know it all’ stereotype you and several others slap on anyone under the age of 30. I’m entirely independent, I take care of myself, I don’t depend on anyone but me, I’m not sitting at home taking handouts, I’m 23, supporting myself 100%, paying for a brand new car, about to get married, living my life and loving it, learning, growing, and yeah, on the side, promoting the hell out of myself so I can establish some cred amongst my peers and the general public. Personal branding isn’t all for nothing. Some people sit quietly and pay their dues to gain respect, some people promote the heck out of themselves and what they have to offer – I do a little of both, and there is nothing wrong with either.

        We can agree to disagree and leave it at that. I see your points and I think they are valid, but I think you are too quick to label me without knowing anything about me.

      • Sara
        Sara says:

        “But yes, as amazing and as shocking as it may be, at the age of twenty three, I know I will never fit in to a company that doesn’t value me as an employee and give me some room for creativity.”

        Which is to say. . . you’re just like everyone else. NO ONE can be truly happy somewehre they don’t feel valued and have no room for creativity. That’s not something unique to Gen Y.

    • Carol
      Carol says:

      I think the real question then is:

      Why do you feel the need to promote yourself as a human being?

  27. Tom
    Tom says:

    Am I the only one that thinks when Gen & becomes “older person[s],” as he so gently points out, with “twin babies, a pet dog and a list of errands,” that their lives are going to completely fall apart? They seem to be very good at managing online assets, etc., but I see nothing that indicates actual life skills from the majority that I meet. I think they have a very shocking reality to come crashing down upon in their future. This is a generation that is looking more and more self-serving and self-reverential than the yuppies did in the 80s, and they’re going to get served a rough landing when they realize life is not all about networking. What a mess the next decade or so is going to be, and what frightening chaos their kids are going to be.

  28. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    And on top of all of this, was anyone else struck by how jargon-filled the introductory paragraph was?

    “articulate their value proposition”
    “leverage it across platforms”
    “consistent message”
    “enhance their recognition”

    And that’s in just two sentences.

  29. Derek Scruggs
    Derek Scruggs says:

    This comment thread is eerily familiar. It reminds me of when I got out of college in 1990 and everyone called us Gen X slackers. Then the Bush I recession hit and we were unlucky dead-enders who would never earn more money than our parents. Then Netscape went public and we were technological geniuses who were re-writing the rules of business. (Once upon a time a company had to have rising profits for eight consecutive quarters before it could IPO). Then the dotcom bubble collapsed and we were ponzi schemers trying to sell pet food and toothpaste online.

    Then actual ponzi schemers destroyed the economy. Then Gen Y came along and we were irrelevant. Thank god.

  30. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    With all the on-line branding, differentiating, and leveraging going on
    I don’t see how anyone besides Gen Y has time to Twitter. Fortunately, for those of us who are now irrelevant due to our busy personal lives there is Flutter.

  31. Tania
    Tania says:

    Okay, so the real problem I have with these posts is the instinctive impression they give of the writer as essentially Paris Hilton wanna be’s.

    In a country where you are facing major economic crisis and are in a society that has had at least 5 mass shotings in the last few weeks these posts say that the writers are completely self aware but don’t see what’s going on around them. I didn’t see any reflection of what is going on in the “real” world in this writing, and as such it actually reads as out of touch and dated.

    As pointed out in other comments, other generations have done / faced all that you are facing and in many instances have harnessed it to a much better effect, continuing to write how good you are is actually harming your brand, not enhancing it. Not to mention the damage it’s doing to Penelope’s brand.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      A review of Dan’s book on Amazon says almost the same thing you point out – that they are Paris Hiltons (famous for being famous, she; successful for saying they’re successful, they):

      “This kid started to write about personal branding years ago, and he’s only in his early 20s right now. His success stems purely from him talking about his success; Schawbel hasn’t a long-established career to draw from true personal experiences. Clearly, Schawbel is asserting that he’s a born personal branding guru, and that, unfortunately, is farthest from the truth. While Me 2.0 offers some valid advice, I would take much of the author’s anecdotes with a grain of salt, given his lack of extensive industry experience.”

      This generation, or at least this facet of this generation, isn’t out of touch. They’re entirely in touch, all the time, with themselves and only others of their ilk that serve them and have little use for anyone or anything that doesn’t further their careers. It’s rather sickening and saddening that we’re seeing the zombie spawn of yuppies when it seemed like nothing could be worse than the yuppies themselves. I am truly worried about what the future holds for us as these self-centered, shallow, ego-driven machines slowly take over the world. They don’t seem particularly talented at anything but talking about themselves. Are they going to be relying on us “older people” to actually do the work for them?

  32. nadia
    nadia says:

    i agree that my gen y staff are better at the twittering and networking and blogging than i am. i’m running a project and they are networking, blogging and twittering. because of gen y arrogance, they assume that i don’t know what they are up to. For my staff who are productive, i don’t really care. For my staff who are busy writing eco newsletters in lieu of working on deadlines and so forth – well i hope that the networking pays off.

    however most jobs eventually require some sort of skills or competency. all of the self promotion in the world will not trump actually doing work and getting actual work experience.

  33. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Dan is putting himself out there, and is opening himself to all the praise/scorn that will come his way. Question to those who say he can’t spell, or hasn’t produced any real work. He has his own book and has been praised by NYT. How many of us can say that. Plus the kid is only 25 yrs old. Anyone else write a book by their 25th birthday? Boomers thought Gen X (my classification)were slackers, but someone pointed out we as a group invented some pretty cool stuff or built some incredible organizations. Gen Y will too…and the next generation…and so on. Congrats Dan, keep writing and keep branding.

  34. Laura in London
    Laura in London says:

    This post makes me embarrassed to be part of generation y. People above have made excellent points. The poster is indeed generalizing as if all of us are upper middle class college graduates with mom and dad’s couch to fall back on and nothing better to do than sit around rephrasing the same cocky I’m-so-hip-and-important-because-I-can-make-myself-appear-that-way-online garbage. Anyone can make a pretty web site and network. But what’s behind it? Why not take advantage of your youthful energy and ideals to do something that might actually help this world (without broadcasting it)?

    And seriously – ‘branding’ yourself at age 25? Let’s take a cue from other cultures and see what we can learn from those with experience before blabbering to everyone else on how best to do things.

    • Nailed IT
      Nailed IT says:

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.

      I’m not taking the piss here but have you seen this guy’s video resume? I think he has Down Syndrome.

  35. phineas g.
    phineas g. says:

    If the two Gen-Y’s that used to work for me had spent a little less time “branding themselves” and a little more time “working for the man” during the forty hours they were being paid I wouldn’t be on Gen-Yer #3. On both counts they were relieved of the stress of having to show up at 8:00AM since they felt the need to bypass the web filter we have in place (we’re IT they have the ability) to complain about how “the man” is infringing upon their rights to express themselves with “his” inflexible work schedule.

    Never mind they knew the schedule when the contract was signed and both started trying to modify their schedule within a month. Me, I’ll take angry and bitter Gen-Xer’s any day. At least they seem to remember the tech crash and realize “the man” isn’t here to help with them find themselves between 8:00 and 5:00.

    Getting fired for blogging about / from work is often called being “dooced”. Would the two Y’s above have been “branded”?

  36. 34 year old guy
    34 year old guy says:

    Gen Y is the greatest generation in the history of the world, and Dan Schawbel is the greatest member of Gen Y. Other than a few presentations for a crappy tech company, what have you really DONE? Personal branding should lead to opportunities, not just twittering your unemployed friends how great you are.

  37. MJ
    MJ says:

    I’m going to be the old Luddite here – don’t we still have a major issue in turning “presence” and tech networking into $$? I have no doubt that someone so young that he has no responsibilities has much more time than an adult to be out there twittering, commenting on websites, blogging, etc. – but how is that going to turn into a career, a living, cold hard cash? THAT is the jump that must be made before any of this amounts to more than narcissism and chatting with one’s friends electronically.

    Also, yes, Laura from London rocks. Great comment.

  38. Daniel C. de A. Botelho
    Daniel C. de A. Botelho says:

    Well, how useful is all this interconnectedness if it isn’t put to good use?

    While there are certainly people taking advantage of, and utilizing these tools for dissemination of information and overall communication, I also see a lot of junk that gets published and passed on. This morning I had two updates from friends with a new status of their dentist appointment. I mean, really, who wants to hear that!

    I would say less than 10% of friends actually publish worthwhile information, and have something valuable. So I can’t say that Gen-Y can brand themselves better, but I think it’s worth saying that they know how to use the tools that are available to better brand oneself.

    Now here’s another effective use of these tools that also better prepares Gen-Y:

  39. Matt Cheuvront
    Matt Cheuvront says:

    Which is to say. . . you’re just like everyone else. NO ONE can be truly happy somewhere they don’t feel valued and have no room for creativity. That’s not something unique to Gen Y.

    @ Sarah – I never made a claim that I (or Generation Y) was overly unique or extraordinary – we (collectively) are victims of circumstance – we grew up in different times, we use different tools than past generations did to promote ourselves, in the end, we’re all striving to achieve common goals, but might be using different methods to do so.

  40. Shelley
    Shelley says:

    Personal branding is important especially in this state of economy. What about relationship building? There’s no talk about solid relationship building which also builds your personal brand. Never underestimate the power of an in-person conversation. Since you have so much time building your personal brand, how about helping me? I can help you to build skills for a face-to-face network.

  41. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’m disappointed that Dan Schawbel hasn’t responded to any of the comments. Dan has put himself out there and the community has taken the time to read and respond to his post. This article is better for the comments that you just don’t get in a one way broadcast version but a response from the author would be nice.
    I did like – “Since we are young, we can connect with older generations who can share experiences, lessons learned and other career advice.”
    So my response is – Since I am ‘old’, I am more than willing to share .. and learn from young and old. Please do us a favor and try not to use the ‘Gen Y’ and ‘better’ classifications together so that it’s easier to have a conversation.

  42. finance girl
    finance girl says:

    Here we go again.

    Doesn’t matter what your age is, if you have passion for your field everything else will follow, including your ability to ‘brand’ yourself in your field.

    Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for your ‘branding’?

    I worked at Microsoft for over 10 years and even I snicker at that. You may want to revisit why you are putting so much importance on those sites.

    But then again, I was only able to retire early and switch careers before the age of 40, so what the hell do I know?

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