Welcome, community. I’d like you to meet my brand.

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Seriously, when I decided to do this, I figured “what the hell, a little time set aside for contemplation and thought, a place to vent and share my experience”. You might note that I did not think “A place to grow my brand, gather followers, and build a community”…. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m possibly a little naive – after all, I’m over 40 and this subsuming technological world is a bit mysterious to me. I eat meals without posting photos. I don’t curate images of vacations and adventures. Social media is, for me, still an afterthought. I’m not accustomed to considering myself a product that I must sell to followers and connections and friends online.

As a linkedin linker, I’ve failed. My network has failed to grow sufficiently to generate the opportunities I’m sure will reveal themselves if I can only make seven more connections. But it’s weird and a little uncomfortable – the person I am on linked-in is a bit of a stranger to me. She’s got these skills that sound impressive and articulate, and while they’re all true, at no time in my profile does the word “bitch” appear. (I guarantee you, if employers would just use that as a keyword in recruitment strategies, I’d be one hell of a hot commodity). I can still remember when my work-seeking self was simply a couple sheets of paper with relevant notes typed on it. Now, I’m a cross-posted on-brand compilation of searchable keywords, curated photos and connections on a million platforms and networks.

And despite the fact that this is only my second post, I have also failed at blogging. Where are my followers? My likes? My shares? Why, oh why have I not upgraded with wordpress to a premium account that will help me obtain all of these supremely important things? Why didn’t I read that article about monetizing my blog? How could I fail to share on facebook and instagram and snapchat (can you share to snapchat?).

I’m picking up a couple of interesting trends. Maybe understanding them (if not participating) will assist me in my job search. Or make a job out of my job search.

First, I’m supposed to build my brand. I’m supposed to develop a highly curated version of myself, and use it in the digiverse to attract followers, likes, and shares. This itself may not assist me in my job search, but it’s just how things are done now. I feel more relevant already having discovered this, and plan to spend the next week hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, and working in a community garden to generate the images I need to populate my instagram feed. No doubt, this is what potential employers are looking for.

The next step is to monetize everything. Once I generate the followers and connections and friends and likes and shares I’m supposed to, then I can upgrade my blog (thanks wordpress, I did get your seven emails about this!), allow some advertisements on it, and watch the pennies roll in.

You’d have to be less relevant to the modern age than I, to not have heard about disruptors, about the side hustle, about all of the different ways young people are going about making a living these days. As I embark on this journey, sheltering myself from the bombardment of messaging about monetization, branding and upgrades, I’ve got to wonder – was participation in this online economy ever anyone’s intent? Or are people just falling into accidental (largely unpaid) employment, in which they are hard at work selling themselves as a product? And does it leave any time for looking for work?

 

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