Youth marketing

Attracting Gen Z talent and growing brand love: Q&A with Zara Easton, LinkedIn

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
May 1, 2024
Last updated
May 1, 2024

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With not long to go until Pion's thirteenth YMS LDN event, we can’t wait to return to London with fresh insights, the latest Gen Z trends, and a whole host of exciting new speakers. And, on that note, we thought it was high time we caught up with one of them.

In this blog post, we catch up with YMS speaker Zara Easton, Head of Brand Marketing UK at LinkedIn.  Zara currently leads LinkedIn’s brand marketing in the UK and works across a range of global projects for the brand. Prior to LinkedIn, Zara worked at Virgin Group. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at LinkedIn.

I'm currently focusing my marketing strategies on Gen Z, addressing the unique challenges they encounter in today's cost-of-living crisis and competitive job market. I love to challenge the status quo and create storytelling and purpose-led campaigns.  

Since I joined in 2020, I’m lucky enough to have most recently been recognised as one of Campaign's Faces to Watch 2023, and my team led the partnerships that won 11 Cannes Lions Awards for two of LinkedIn’s most distinguished campaigns — Dyslexic Thinking and Raising Profiles.

Beyond my professional role, I'm passionate about mentoring the next generation, including supporting initiatives for young prison-leavers and providing guidance to students.

Gen Z is the fastest-growing demographic on LinkedIn - how are they using the platform differently from other age groups?

Gen Z is coming to LinkedIn for a range of reasons - from finding a job to growing their professional network, learning new skills, developing their business or side hustle, and establishing their online professional presence and brand. 

They are deeply passionate about many issues that impact the workplace, from mental health, diversity, inclusion and belonging, and addressing climate change. We’re witnessing the rise of influential Gen Z voices emerging on Linkedin - such as Cel Amade and  Maya Raichoora - who are building strong followings.

On top of this, Gen Z are far more likely to have ‘squiggly careers’ and forge their own paths, knowing that they'll face a lot of change - particularly as new technologies like AI come into play. 

Our research has shown that the majority of Gen Zers (and Millennials) have considered or are considering leaving a job for a company that better aligns with their values. They also have a different mindset towards work-life balance and are less willing to compromise on what matters most to them in the workplace:  a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion is the biggest red flag for Gen Z job seekers.

What are your thoughts on the bad rep Gen Z are getting in the press around work ethic? Do you see this?

Gen Z face a lot of criticism for their apparent unrealistic expectations of work, but our research suggests that these views are unfounded and arise from a lack of communication among different generations at work.

There's a real gulf between Gen Z and older generations in the workforce and colleagues of the same cohort are existing in professional vacuums - what we refer to as ‘Career Echo Chambers’. The lack of communication between generations not only limits their perspectives and learning opportunities, but also leads to misunderstandings (on both sides!)

What tips have you got for brands looking to grow brand love with this demographic?

Gen Z values transparency, honesty, and real connections. They want brands to engage with them as individuals in meaningful ways that go beyond just selling a product and they want their voices to be heard and considered. Brands that contribute to their knowledge and personal growth appeal to them, and it's vital for brands to connect with Gen Z authentically and culturally, considering their perspectives in every aspect, from product creation right through to marketing strategies.

Our latest campaign aimed to grow brand love with Gen Z using these insights. My team and our in-house brand creative team produced a memorable brand film that resonated with their current workplace experiences. We highlighted the universal truth - that starting out can be daunting - and our goal was to support career growth during a rapidly evolving job market. We complemented the TV spot with a unique live activation in partnership with VCCP: the 'Know-How To Go' coffee truck. Recognizing Gen Z's affinity for microlearning and coffee culture, we used this as a chance to forge real connections, offering career-enhancing conversations over coffee during their daily commute. Additionally, we leveraged LinkedIn's platform to share practical advice through influential voices and a content series with Gen Z influencer, Max Baledge. 

Tell us about your mentoring work with young prison-leavers and what marketers can learn from widening their talent pool. 

We’ve partnered with Inside Out, a social enterprise providing young prison leavers with skills to help them access employment opportunities by creating a fashion brand end-to-end. Alongside playing a pivotal role in launching the start-up launch in 2022, we continue to provide mentoring support to the participants, including helping to build their LinkedIn profiles and using the platform to connect to opportunities. 

Having worked on the ground throughout this initiative, it’s evident that shifting your mindset to skills-based hiring will widen your talent pool and provide opportunities for all. 

You’ll be joining us for a fireside chat in our Future of Work Track at YMS. Can you give people a preview of what you’ll be talking about?

I'll share insights on how LinkedIn is supporting young professionals in navigating today's work landscape with practical advice for job searching, upskilling, and building an online brand. I'll also be highlighting what Gen Z wants from employers, such as work-life balance, growth opportunities, and authentic employer brands, and how companies can support and empower them in the workplace. Additionally, I'll discuss how brands can genuinely engage with this audience and connect with them in the right way.

Quick-fire Round: the questions we ask everyone

Biggest Gen Z myth?

We know Gen Z are strong advocates for  having a good work-life balance and have different attitudes towards work styles, but the notion that Gen Z don’t want to work hard is unfounded.  Our research shows Gen Z is actually a very driven and focused generation and professional development is top of mind. Just over 6 in 10 (61%) say a stable and secure career is their biggest priority in life.

What do you most admire about Gen Z?

That they’re eager to change things at work that aren’t working for them, and they’re not afraid to speak their mind. They’re leading the charge of a new wave of professionals who are unwilling to compromise on what matters most to them in the workplace. It’s great to see a generation taking agency of their career growth and focusing on finding opportunities that are genuinely right for them.

What’s your favourite app at the moment?

I’ve been helping friends and mentees with their CVs recently, and designing invitations and party materials. There is no better app for this than Canva and I love using it to be creative on the go! Would highly recommend it for building your professional brand and any visuals.

What are you most looking forward to at YMS?

I can’t wait to meet other brands and social impact organisations focusing on supporting youth and Gen Z. In terms of sessions, as a lover of music, I’m intrigued to watch the music discovery session with YouTube! 

What should we have asked you that we didn’t?

A classic is always any top tips for LinkedIn profiles, particularly when starting out. My main advice is to write in first person to build authenticity and filter your profile so it tells one story with keywords. The ‘About’ section is the main area recruiters read, so spend some time crafting 40-100 words and 3-5 paragraphs. Lastly, make sure you customise your LinkedIn profile link so you can add it neatly to your CV. 

Like what you’ve read? Join Zara, plus speakers from Snapchat, Sony, and Monzo, at YMS LDN in June. Secure your tickets now. 

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