These days, it's all about "branding yourself."

Like Paris Hilton, Brangelina, or any American Idol contestant, you've got to come up with a new, fresh exciting way to stand out from the crowd.

I don't know about you, but I find it somewhat annoying to be told that I have to turn myself into a brand to get ahead in life, instead of waiting for karma to reward me for being a good person. I'm a journalist, so I've made a few attempts to brand myself in 21st Century fashion -- like blogging here on WalletPop, for example. But for me and everyone else out there looking for work, how far do we have to go to be the human version of Coca-Cola or Pepsi?Fellow journalist Alina Tugend had a good take on branding yourself for a job hunt in this weekend's "Short Cuts" column in The New York Times. I'm totally with her when she writes about her reluctance to take on branding tasks, but understanding the need for doing so to get in front of potential employers.

The technology trinity -- Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter -- play a big role in establishing your brand, of course. Tugend also mentions some Twitter tools for job-hunting that are worth checking out: Jobshouts.com, a job board that "tweets" new openings; the job search engine TwitterJobSearch.com; and JobAngels, a mentoring program to help people find jobs. For those who can't tell a blog from a Facebook posting, a company called JumpStart offers "social media experts" to help you get started with online branding by creating profiles for you on LinkedIn or Facebook for $90.

Speaking of blogs, I'm so relieved I don't need to blog daily about any old thing just to get my name higher up in Google searches -- branding experts told Tugend that "a boring blog or an unprofessional Web site is worse than none at all." So WalletPop blogging is okay for now, and it has helped me find some related writing assignments. I've got the LinkedIn and Facebook profiles up, and am now testing Twitter to see if I'll get any work that way.

Will all this help me become the one, the only, the brand called Vanessa Richardson? Time will tell, I guess. Do you have any good/bad stories to share about your own branding methods for employment? We would love to read them.

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