Young Professionals: Self-Promotion and Beating Imposter Syndrome

Eager, new graduates are spilling into the job market rapidly looking to begin their careers.

As they enter the workforce headfirst, the same questions usually arise, for example, what is the best way to promote myself? How can I create a resume that stands out? And how do I get over the feeling of imposter syndrome?

These questions are all normal and valid feelings that young professionals are faced with in today’s world, and while some answers are discovered through experience, others can be given through the advice of seasoned professionals, years into their careers.

Creating a unique resume and LinkedIn profile is one thing when figuring out how to sell yourself, but you can’t discount your experiences and how they make you stand out.

When it comes to promoting your unique and best assets to employers, Josh Planos, VP of communications & PR at the Better Business Bureau, noted that “times have changed” and in 2024 a lot more skills are expected of young professionals.

“What is being requested of employees in 2024 looks a lot different from even just 5-10 years prior,” Planos said. “When you get out of school, it is helpful to think of what skills you can add to make you that much more attractive to an employer, but also to more effectively do your job.”

Upskilling Yourself

To grow in your career, it’s important to continue learning even after graduation. There are a lot more ways to upskill yourself in today’s digital age.

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“For a long time, the only way you could upskill is by going back to school,” Planos said. “Nowadays, there are a ton of alternative avenues to gain skills that previously didn’t exist such as LinkedIn courses or professional organizations.”

There aren’t many excuses to not be upskilling yourself nowadays, and sometimes it involves taking risks to get to the rewards. Kellee Mikuls, executive director of Ignite Nebraska, said that “you only grow when you’re uncomfortable” and if you find yourself too comfortable, that means it’s time to shake things up.

“The willingness to take risks has been the catalyst for every opportunity I’ve had,” Mikuls said. “If you look back on your career and see what skills you have and every chance you take risks, you’re going to acquire more skills and it’s going to help paint the bigger picture of what your purpose is.”

Imposter Syndrome

Finding your purpose in the professional world can be daunting for young professionals who are new to all different industries and job settings. There are even certain feelings like imposter syndrome that might hold back a great candidate from applying. While these feelings are normal, there are plenty of ways to overcome them.

“It doesn’t matter at the end of the day how you got there, what matters now, and the reason you will stay there, is that you’ve proven your capability,” said Mynesha Spencer, CEO of All of Us Together.

More professionals experience imposter syndrome than you might think.

“Imposter syndrome comes and goes throughout all ages and stages of life,” said Kristi Lynch, senior director of graduate, executive and professional business programs at the University of Nebraska Omaha. “Don’t discount all of the small experiences you had in your life where you gained valuable skills such as customer service or how to speak with people, those can really help assist you in professional settings.”

One effective way to overcome imposter syndrome and connect with colleagues is to seek advice and help from mentors and coworkers.

“My boss once told me if I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say you gave the best effort you could, then that’s good enough,” Planos said. “We’re all just trying to figure it out.”

Working through the kinks and hardships of new jobs, industries and colleagues is a lot to deal with when first entering the workforce, so understanding that you are doing the best you can, is a great start to giving yourself grace as a young professional.

“It’s important to approach every situation with a willingness to learn,” Mikuls said. “Ask yourself “Are you happy to be there” instead of “do you deserve to be there?” and recognize that it’s normal to feel doubt.”


Most professionals doubt or question themselves at some point in their careers. It’s helpful to have a wide and supportive network by your side if you are going through a similar situation.

“No matter what type of person you are, introvert or extrovert, it’s important to be authentic and approachable,” Spencer said.

Approaching networking situations with a great mindset could catapult opportunities you never saw coming. “It’s all about who you know” is still true to this day, and you never know when someone you met once in a professional network setting could be what sets you apart in getting your dream job.

“There are so many great opportunities where people are hungry to meet other people in Omaha,” Mikuls said. “People love to talk about themselves and are looking for human connections. Put yourself out there and actively seek people and opportunities. You will find that it will open so many doors if you do.”

Professional organizations are made to collaborate and meet like-minded individuals in your area. There are not only professional organizations that you could be involved in, but also nonprofits or clubs that you have a passion for are ways to network as well.

“It’s important to get involved in different sorts of community activities in your area, like nonprofits and mentoring programs,” Lynch said. “Sharing your knowledge with different groups through mentoring kids or even volunteering your time at a place you are passionate about is a great way to network and serve your community, you never know who you might meet.”


LinkedIn can be a young professional’s biggest asset for self-promotion. It’s a time where you can post your thoughts on any topic, as well as connect with almost anyone. It’s vital for networking and job searching, at any age.

“Utilizing social media and having a strong profile on LinkedIn is very important for young professionals,” Lynch said. “A way to differentiate yourself from other candidates could be posting your thoughts on LinkedIn on different topics. Put yourself out there as an expert in the field, generate feedback and awareness to yourself, the more people that respect you, the greater chance you have of getting hired.”

It’s important to remember to remain professional when self-promoting, while also staying true to yourself and showing your unique skills and brand that you have to offer.

“There’s a fine line between professionalism and authenticity. You should be operating like a professional, while also remaining authentic to yourself,” Spencer said.

In 2024 where anyone’s voice can be heard and shared on social media, Planos explained that you have to be a spokesperson for yourself, while also delicately advocating for causes you feel strongly about.

“Striking a balance between self-promotion and advocacy for those initiatives you care about out of respect for your audiences,” Planos said. “It can be important to use causes as a guide for you to navigate networking or social media spaces new to you so you can rely on doing what you feel is right and creating a cohort around that.”

Social media can be essential for entrepreneurs. In Kellee Mikuls’ case, LinkedIn proved to be extremely successful as a fundraiser tool, as well as a way to connect with potential partners.

“The power of LinkedIn, if you’re doing it right and reaching out to people, is how you differentiate yourself,” Mikuls said. “It’s your network, personal brand and how you hone your own voice and find connections that will influence your career path.”

Words of Wisdom

Navigating the job market and workforce as a young professional can be overwhelming and exhausting. It’s important to remain open-minded to all opportunities that come about, talk things over with trusted mentors, and give yourself grace as you push through interviews, applications and cover letters. Lynch said it’s smart to keep open-minded when job searching.

“Keep your eyes wide and willing to consider all different types of opportunities,” she said. “Very few of us stick with one career path or job for our whole lives. Give yourself credit for all the experience you have and think about how you could apply them to potentially different career paths or jobs, instead of being narrow-minded.”

When navigating the competitiveness of job searching, Spencer said that characteristics such as kindness and gratitude will take you a long way.

“You can be both kind and competitive. Everything I do, I do with kindness, as well as I practice gratitude every day,” she said. “If you embody those characteristics, you will go further than where just your college degree can take you.”

Mikuls explained how being eager for opportunity and not being afraid to fail will lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to go.

“Be hungry to be around people from all different backgrounds; opportunity happens to those who are present,” she said. “Stick your neck out and take some risks. I’m so glad that I failed. I learned so much about myself and I feel like I can withstand so many things in the future because I failed before. Through failure, risks and challenges are where you grow the most.”

Planos said you should stumble a lot in your career, and remember it’s okay to fall down.

“I’ve learned more about myself through failing than succeeding. It’s important to take some risks, even if it comes at the cost of a disaster or two.”