Personal Brand: Your Job-hunting Method du Jour


Looking for a job is a job. As someone in the market, I hear this all the time, and it’s 100 percent true. I get tired just thinking about looking for a job; the effort required in a place like the Twin Cities, among all the other smart, capable people, is backbreaking. Some say the economy is good, but I say it’s a battle out there. Even getting a graduate degree, like I just did, is no guarantee. Too many companies have downsized too many times, and not only are people who lost their jobs looking for work, employees who stayed and had their responsibilities increased (with no increase in pay) are looking too. Absolutely everyone wants a new job.

Well, have no fear, job seeker! The top employment authors and employment consultants have assured me that the latest key to job-hunter wealth and never-ending happiness is a Personal Brand. Yes, not just for multinational conglomerates anymore, brands are a way for smart and successful people like you and me to impress those who hire smart and successful people.

To demonstrate how easy it is, I will create my own brand right on the spot. I am no longer Jay Kelly…I am now the physical manifestation of JK™. The authors and consultants don’t recommend you do this without their advice, so proceed with caution. Now that I’m a brand, I don’t feel that much different, but my first instinct is that if I saw someone else using the letters JK, I’d be well within my rights to sue them (Personal Brand Benefit #1 – The Threat of Litigation).

Before we continue, I want to be clear that having a Personal Brand doesn’t mean that you have to do any heavy reading on the concept of brand. I myself read a magazine article and a few short blog postings before writing this for you. Paris Hilton considers herself a brand, and I’m willing to bet she doesn’t read at all. Even so, maybe we should define personal brands a little bit better first, just to maximize our Personal Brand success.

To use the example of Nike, the international sporting goods giant, brand is what we think and feel about Nike, and what Nike does to influence those thoughts and feelings. So if we hear that a pair of Nike shoes cost about $1.23 to manufacture, and in response, Nike spends millions of dollars to make some really cool ads, and consequently, we get excited buying Nike shoes for $150/pair, that’s brand (Personal Brand Benefit #2 – Rational Decision Making is Irrelevant).

So what is the first step to make Personal Branding work for you? Make a list, of course. Make a list of all your friends. Then make a list of the attributes that they could use to describe you. Then make a list of all the attributes that you want your Personal Brand to represent. The attributes I use to describe JK™ are: stylish, intelligent, witty, sarcastic, sassy.

Do your friends identify you with Personal Brand attributes you chose? No? I want to emphasize that _it does not matter_. The fact that they didn’t choose the right attributes doesn’t mean you need to grow, improve or change – it means that you need to buy cooler stuff and hang out with cooler people. Personal Brand does have something to do with your personality, but it has more to do with your car and your clothes, your personal computer and your PDA. Buzzwords are good too, especially in job interviews. Definitely use more buzzwords. Personal Branding is all about boldly moving forward, not staying stagnant by living in the past (Personal Brand Benefit #3 – Create or Buy Your Own Reality).

Yes, your head may hurt. Moving into the future, creating a new reality – Personal Branding can seem so daunting. In truth, it is not. The Internet, my new cooler friends, is the key. Your ticket to success will be punched by a personal Web site and/or blog (Personal Brand Benefit #4 – Staking Your Claim in Cyberspace). Most experts will talk about differentiation as the core concept of Personal Brand, but every last one of them also mentions starting a blog, and this is the real key.

These days, you don’t have to be a Web designer or a writer to be on the Internet, all you need is the overwhelming desire to tell other people about YOU. Don’t worry about your Google rankings. The fact that your blog exists at all is most important, and having the URL on your resume is a real difference maker. The new reality in the 21st Century of work is that the experience of having done something is more important than having done it well (Personal Brand Benefit #5 – The Experts Are Those Who Say They’re Experts).

You now have all the knowledge you need to go forth and burn your Personal Brand on the world. Make sure and bring the ointment. I only hope that your brands can be as successful as JK™, the only brand to blend style, intelligence, and wit with the splash of sarcastic sass we all know and love.

If you keep working hard, you’ll get there. If you believe the hype, it’s probably true.

Disclaimer: This article is the sole property of JK™. No copies or re-creations can be used without express written authorization of JK™ representatives. JK™ cannot be held responsible for actions taken after reading this article that result in personal bankruptcy or social isolation. Thank you for your consumption of JK™ intellectual property.

_The Head Fake blog will feature an essay per week, and possibly some shorter items in between. The Head Fake is also featured monthly in The Bridge newspaper. You can e-mail Jay Kelly at