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  • An Audacious Way to Build an Online Brand

    Last week, Jamie Varon (@jamievaron) made waves in the Twitter and Gen Y communities with a career advice post about her last job and a new website to get Twitter to hire her. I caught up with her to talk about what she’s doing to build her online personal brand – and ask how she comes up with some of her most audacious ideas.

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    How does the Twitter Should Hire Me site fit with the personal brand you’re trying to create?

    My site demonstrates my brand quite well: ambitious, creative, bold, optimistic, and intelligent. The site is an extension of my capabilities, because it was very well thought-out. There was strategy behind it, such as knowing it would be relevant, since Twitter and jobs are two of the hottest topics in media right now. I knew, from a marketing perspective, that this would catch people’s attention. And, I knew I wanted to do something that would demonstrate my ambition and determination to find a meaningful career, even in the midst of the recession. I wanted a site that was eye-catching and creative, but also made sure to incorporate smart content, so as not to seem like an empty marketing ploy.

    What kind of reception have you received since launching Twitter Should Hire Me?3025363361_1ccb051b90_o

    By the end of the second day that the site launched, I had received over 20,000 views. My Twitter following count has increased by almost 40% and I have forged relationships that I would not have otherwise had. There have been multiple write ups about my campaign and I have been contacted by my local news and some other news outlets that I can’t discuss.

    The Twitter community responded to my campaign in an overwhelmingly positive way. They were very supportive and it spread very quickly throughout people’s Twitter streams. At one point, I was the 70th most retweeted person on Twitter, among the top 100 with huge influencers such as Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Pete Cashmore.

    What will you do if Twitter doesn’t offer you a job?

    I have three job offers doing marketing – One PT social media marketing position actually gets me into the startup industry in a big way. This site has opened up tons of possibilities for me in marketing.

    That’s the ticket: I wanted something in the creative departments of startups. So, I created something unique and marketed both it and myself. No matter what experience I put on the site (even though I am pumping a good amount234609745_bfd56381af of info into it), I have achieved what companies want: buzz. My uncle, out of the woodwork, called me and wants to hire me as a freelancer and throw $5000 of marketing budget at me. That just doesn’t happen in this economy.

    Furthermore, if Twitter doesn’t hire me at this point, I hope to create a relationship with them and maybe the future will bring a partnership. I know I will be in the startup industry to stay, so even if there isn’t a place for me on the Twitter team at this point, it doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a place for me in the future.

    You recently wrote a post on Penelope Trunk’s blog about how you quit your last job after 2 weeks. Was that a publicity stunt to promote your twitter blog?

    We had planned on that post going up for 2 weeks. The timing just happened to be what it was. I didn’t really think my post would be that controversial or become one of Penelope Trunk’s most popular. It surprised the hell out of me. But then again, I’m so comfortable with the decisions I make because they ARE so well thought out and I trust myself to make smart decisions, that I should have known better that other people who don’t know me from Jane that they might not understand my perspective.

    I didn’t plan to have the Twitter campaign and that guest post at all connected; it just so happened that I had two high profile things going on at the same time.

    People were pretty harsh about your decision to quit that job, and many questioned how it would affect your future employment. Do you think employers care about quitting a job after two weeks?

    I think that it matters from person to person. For me, it was the best decision to make. And, I believe that my personal blog, intersected and my Twitter campaign prove that I am not a lot of the things that people assumed I was based on this one decision I made (to quit a job after 2 weeks).

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    I would be naive to believe that employers wouldn’t question someone who left a job after two weeks, but it happens a lot more than we think. Almost every person I’ve talked to about the topic has at least one story that is similar to mine. In most situations, the company presented itself one way in the interview and then turned out to be completely different. I would have a hard time advising someone to stay in a job situation where the company had deceived someone in order to get them through the doors. Granted, I made it clear that my decision to quit after two weeks was made because I knew I had a safety net (living with my parents). Also, I was planning on living at home for 2-3 months to save up money, regardless of if I had the job or not. My parents and I agreed that it would be smart to pay down some debt before moving into San Francisco, but that’s a different story.

    As for employers caring whether someone quit a job after two weeks, I cannot give a definite answer to that. There are factors involved that would change the answer: for instance, if your resume is filled with month-long holes with small stints at each job, I think that would be cause for question. But, if your resume shows only a small amount of down time and the rest is filled with great positions, then the two weeks wouldn’t matter (which is how my resume is currently, except I don’t put that job on my resume because I wouldn’t use it as a reference. I have an internship for Brazen Careerist in its place, which is more in line with what I want to be doing in my career anyways).

    What advice would you give to people trying to manage their personal brand online?

    I would advise people to be honest with themselves about who they are and where they want to be going, to truly look at their strengths and weaknesses and build their brand from there. Too many people attempt to be everyone but themselves, but I think the key to a successful brand image is both projecting and knowing who you are. The biggest key to success is self-awareness and when you can both build and BE your personal brand, you will be most effective.

    People may view my behavior online as risky and bold, but that’s exactly how I want to position myself. I am risky and bold and willing to tackle the issues that other people won’t. There will be companies that will not want to hire me because of that, but I like knowing that. I like being sure that the image I’m projecting will attract the companies and people who will fit in well with who I am. That way, when a company approaches me based on my true personal brand, it will be a stronger, more honest partnership.

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    What do you think? I was a bit of a naysayer at Jamie’s approach at first, but I think her answers offer sage advice. Best of luck Jamie!

    Author:

    Monica O’Brien writes career advice for young professionals at her blog, Twenty Set. You can also follow her on Twitter (@monicaobrien).

    Monica O’Brien is an MBA candidate with years of experience in business, strategy, and technology. She currently consults start-ups in the Chicago area on establishing their social media strategies. Monica attends the Chicago Booth School of Business (at the University of Chicago), currently ranked the #1 MBA program in the country by BusinessWeek, and is one of the 2007 Chicago Business Fellows. She concentrates in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship. Monica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, with a minor in Physics, from Truman State University. Her blog, Twenty Set, gives career advice to young professionals. Monica writes candidly about her own experiences. She has also written for Mashable and ProBlogger, and has been featured in major publications like the Christian Science Monitor.

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    Posted in Career Development, entrepreneurship, gen-y, Interview, Job Search, Personal Branding, PR, Reputation Management, Social Media, Success Story, Success Strategies
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