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Conference Proceeding

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The National Center for Education Statistics in the United States reported that the undergraduate program with the most graduates in 2016 were business programs with 372,000 degrees (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.). According to Robinson (2018), the total enrollment of undergraduate business programs globally among universities accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) from 2012 to 2017 reported a 10% increase. The popularity of the business college degree presents a unique challenge to recent business graduates of how to differentiate from other business graduates to achieve the desired job or promotion in the new COVID-19 world; online personal branding could be the answer. According to Dill (2020), the pandemic has affected 13 million employees losing their jobs. However, Dill (2020) points out recruiters are still hiring but that recruitment processes have evolved and adapted, making it even more difficult to stand out amongst candidates vying for the same position. In this new landscape, job candidates are expected to complete all or part of the recruitment and hiring processes online. Therefore, having a strong personal brand in social platforms commonly utilized by recruiters, such as LinkedIn, is crucial for business professionals, especially those seeking employment. Furthermore, being proficient with online networking skills via digital platforms is part of developing an online personal brand (McCorkle & McCorkle, 2012).

This study explores how personality impacts impression management behaviors and the desire to network online via LinkedIn. Also, how dirty (inauthentic) the participants feel when they network online is analyzed. This study uses the scale developed by Bolino and Turnley (1999) to measure the impression management behaviors of ingratiation, exemplification, and self-promotion utilized by business professionals to maintain their professional network on LinkedIn. Conducting an online survey with 389 business professionals, the authors explore the relationship between personality traits and online impression management behaviors utilized by business professionals to maintain their professional network via LinkedIn. Also, the level of dirtiness (lack of authenticity) of how the participants felt while networking via LinkedIn is studied. Participants were recruited through an academic department’s LinkedIn profile page. The results of our study provide unique and interesting insights regarding personality traits, impression management behaviors, and dirtiness for users engaging in professional networking via LinkedIn. This study contributes to the body of research in professional networking and personal branding through exploring associations between personality, impression management behaviors, and feelings of dirtiness for individuals utilizing LinkedIn.

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