Ayu Shahirah does it all. She’s a full-time UI/UX designer at an energy company, a caring career coach and an active LinkedIn creator – all while pursuing a PhD.
Always the first to share raw retellings of her job-seeking experience, Ayu opens up about her job interview mistakes and how she uses LinkedIn to build a personal brand that gets her job offers.
You opened up about getting 176 out of 200 of your job applications ignored or rejected. How did you feel when faced with rejections?
I didn’t mind at the time because I started applying one year before I graduated. So I had a lot of time to make mistakes and learn from them.
One of the biggest things I learned was how to perform better at job interviews.
Before this, when asked a question I didn’t know the answer to, I would answer, “I don’t know at the moment, but I will look this up after the interview”.
Then I realised that that interview could be my only chance to impress them! I failed 2 interviews because of the way I answered this question.
Since then, I’ve corrected the way I answer that question. Employers want to see if you’re willing to try and give your opinions confidently, even if incorrect.
If you’re curious about the actual answer, you can always ask them afterwards! Then they’ll see that you are always ready to learn.
What was your motivation behind creating content for job seekers on LinkedIn?
After getting hired at my current job and achieving first class for my degree, I felt like life was going pretty well!
I told a lecturer at the time that I was craving a challenge. He suggested I share my experiences and the lessons I learned on LinkedIn to inspire others. I figured that the networking opportunities on LinkedIn could help my career, too.
The second post I shared on LinkedIn was my resume and it went viral! Though the post wasn’t perfect, I put a lot of effort into it.
I found out later that many of my peers managed to secure jobs after basing their resumes on mine! I didn’t know that I would help people to that extent so I was very pleased. When I told my lecturer about this, he said it was a great opportunity for ibadah (an act of worship). That’s how I decided to post actively on LinkedIn.
Since then, I challenge myself to post every day. I even share my less-than-successful interview experiences!
Related read: 9 Tips To Attract Recruiters To Your LinkedIn With Job Offers
What do you do differently from other LinkedIn content creators?
I think what sets me apart is that I share my real and raw experiences. I don’t just share my achievements. I’m very candid about my struggles and what I do to overcome them.
For example, a post that did well was when I talked about how I answered a hypothetical question. The interviewer asked, “What would you do if you aren’t able to meet your deadline?”. Typically, an inexperienced job seeker would answer, “I’ll try my best to finish the work but if I can’t I will be honest with my boss.” But, that’s an answer almost everyone can give.
“What sets me apart is that I share my real and raw experiences.”
What I learned you should do is relate it to a real-life situation. For me, it was the time I managed an Artificial Intelligence project. The coding it needed was complicated and we needed extra time to seek advice from people in the industry.
We discussed it with our lecturer and listed everything we needed to do. We managed to get a 3-day extension and the extra time led us to deliver the project successfully.
Providing a real-life example helps employers imagine what it would be like to work with you.
Related read: 8 Most Common Interview Questions Every Job Seeker Should Know
How does maintaining a personal brand on LinkedIn help people in their careers?
For me, LinkedIn isn’t just about finding a job, it’s also about forming meaningful relationships with people. It allows you to build your network.
With personal branding, you get to showcase your strengths, credibility and professional growth. What’s great is when employers understand your worth, they’ll approach YOU for opportunities. I’ve received a lot of offers because of this.
Since I’m happily employed, I would recommend people that I think would be a great fit for the roles offered.
Alhamdulillah, I have managed to connect 200 to 300 people to their jobs – which is a great feat because I’m only one woman!
What tips would you give someone who wants to build their brand on LinkedIn?
The first thing you should do is treat your LinkedIn profile like your very own professional diary.
Based on research, 93% of recruiters will check your LinkedIn for more information on you. If your resume is great, your LinkedIn profile will only compliment that! If you have additional skills, you’ll be able to showcase them on your profile. It adds to your credibility.
Related read: 5 Resume Tricks Recruiters Will Thank You For Using
“Another tip for people who want to start on LinkedIn is to interact with posts. It’s one of the easiest ways to build connections.”
Spend 30 minutes each day liking and commenting on posts. Share your genuine insights and curious people will visit your profile. From there, you can build your content and eventually, your community.
What do you think Malaysian job seekers should improve on?
Don’t reject yourself before you try. People always ask me if they should apply for a particular job. Applying for jobs is free so why not just take the chance? If you get rejected, life goes on. There will always be other opportunities.
The important thing is to not stop yourself from getting the opportunity in the first place.
I also feel like Malaysian job seekers should brush up on their English. Many students I work with are impressive on paper but lack communication skills.
In my opinion, your grammar doesn’t need to be perfect. As long as the people can understand you and you communicate confidently, it should be enough!
The Hiredly team would like to thank Ayu Shahirah for sharing her advice on personal branding with us. Connect with Ayu on LinkedIn for career wisdom and candid stories!
More inspiring job seeker stories here:
- 5 Malaysian Women At The Top Of Their Game On Why We Need More Women Leading
- These Malaysians Prove It’s Never Too Late To Change Careers
- How One Viral YouTube Video Changed The Course Of His Career