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  • Personal Branding on Display

    What if you were applying for a job and as part of the application, you have to write a post for the company’s blog?

    There are no other requirements for the post and you can write about anything you want.

    This is actually happening right now at an innovation consultancy in Richmond,
    Virginia! The company, Play, required all the potential 2009 summer interns to write a blog post for the official company blog as part of their application. To make things even more interesting, Play is actually publishing those posts for all the world to see.

    It’s a fascinating display of personal branding – both bad and good

    There’s an applicant who wasted his post by writing about Michael Phelps’ recent (and now notorious) escapade on his campus. There are a couple applicants who sullied otherwise decent posts with careless spelling and grammatical errors, and others tried to get ahead by heaping praise on the company. And one who didn’t even bother to write a blog post, just a couple sentences about his background and his interest in working at Play. (Oops!)A common mistake was also for applicants to write the blog post in the style of a college admissions essays. They’d talk about their accomplishments and use impressive words – totally missing the point that blog posts are about being informal and showing personality.

    But some of the applicants got it right

    A couple wrote engaging posts about their experiences with creativity. David wrote about his struggles to write a screenplay and how he eventually realized that enjoying the process was more important than creating a perfect ending. Paul wrote about creating toys out of found objects when he was growing up in southern Africa. Hannah shared a moment of inspiration that led to a theme for a dance.

    Others showed that they fit into the culture of Play by writing posts like the company would normally put onto its blog. Valeria shared a creative commercial that inspired her. Panayiotis wrote about the nature of creativity, and Mary wrote a quirky post about how – given the choice between a dinosaur she could ride, or one she could talk to – she’d choose a dinosaur that could be ridden because it would eliminate parking tickets!

    Finally, Krystle showed that she had a fun spirit by creating a video for her post about how she liked to play.

    Further analysis

    Those posts are effective personal branding because they reveal what the applicants are really like. They show what the applicants will talk about when they’re given a completely open-ended question, and what’s important in their lives.

    The posts also prove who paid attention to the rules of the “game”. Careless errors stand out, and it’s obvious who took the time to understand the style of posts are normally written on the Play blog.

    And, most importantly for Play, the posts show who has the capability to break out of a box and be creative!

    Of course, most companies don’t require applications like that. But could you imagine if they did?

    What if you had to write a blog post, or even a personal essay as part of your application? What would you write about? How would you go about creating your blog post? How would you prove to your dream company that you are the absolute right person for the job?

    Would you be able to convey your personal brand effectively? As you can see from the young college students applying for the internships at Play, it’s not an easy thing to do.


    Katie Konrath writes about “ideas so fresh… they should be slapped” at getFreshMinds.com, a top innovation blog.

    Katie works with Fortune 500 companies to help them generate new ideas based on consumer insights at leading innovation company www.IdeasToGo.com. She’s worked with creativity guru Edward de Bono and uncovered new ideas across North America and Europe. Prior to that, she earned a Masters degree in Creativity and Innovation from the Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking in Malta, was certified as a Lateral Thinking trainer, and studied at the TRIZ Institute in St Petersburg, Russia. She writes the leading innovation blog, GetFreshMinds.com.

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