Do the Unemployed Need 'Online Brands'?

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There's no shortage of tips and self-help guides heaved at the unemployed as they struggle to survive the current streak of corporate belt-tightening. But instead of constantly peddling a resume, the jobless may have another way get a fast track to a hiring manager: bulking up an online brand. An advice column at CNN Money urges this strategy of punching up your personal website and blog so that when employers search on Google, they find your sterling reputation littered across cyberspace. Because your professional brand will evolve online whether you like it or not, writes CNN contributor Paul Keegan, that makes it "critically important" for you to take control.

Commenting on other blogs, asking for link-backs and driving traffic to your personal website might improve your online "reputation," but how can it land you a job? It probably won't, flatly responds Chris Lehmann at The Awl, who gives a line-by-line refutation of personal brand promotion:

Why would mastery of the time-killing canons of the blogging and social media worlds recommend anyone as a desirable worker in the first place? Why should a prospective employer assume that if you’re now furiously shoring up your reputation in blogland, then hieing over to Twitter and Facebook to boost your SEO quotient, you’d behave at all differently when he or she grants you a bit of scarce and valuable cubicle space? Transforming yourself into an online brand doesn’t mean you represent anything of real value, any more than commenting on a blog means you really have anything to say.

And raises a broader point:

The sooner that we’re all our own self-maintained online brands, the more briskly we can be moved across the placeless, virtual frontiers of digital-age production, not as collectively bargaining workforces, but as roving bands of impression-managing personality glyphs. Brands, after all, principally exist to be consumed.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.