05/14/2014 08:49 am ET Updated Jul 14, 2014

Why Hire Jennifer? Is a Great Gift for Grads (And for You, Too)

Clarissa went to Yale. She's the package: tall, blonde, speaks three languages, graduated magna cum laude, sings Gilbert & Sullivan tunes.

Don't waste a second worrying about Clarissa -- she'll get any job she wants.

In college, Richard Lewis wasn't Clarissa. But he managed to get himself a job, and another, and eventually he spent two decades in charge of the Absolut advertising account --- he invented those classic Absolut ads. He's taught branding at Yale and NYU. Now, in 200 big-print, illustrated pages, he can teach you how to turn yourself into a brand and make your way in the world. (Disclosure: Richard Lewis and I are friends.)

Graduation gift? Obligatory. Also obligatory if you've been laid off, are stalled in your career or are just generally feeling rusty.

Why did Richard Lewis write this book? A few years ago, he read cover letters and résumés from job candidates. And was stunned: "They didn't just all look the same, they sounded the same." He knew that couldn't work. You want a job, you must be interesting. Not fake interesting. Real interesting. "My goal is simply to present you as you actually are, what differentiates you from your competition, enabling you to communicate what makes you unique. This is not magic. This is simply smart marketing."

Can Why Hire Jennifer?: How to Use Branding and Uncommon Sense to Get Your First Job, Last Job, and Every Job in Between really help you find and present the best you?

Meet Jennifer. She graduated from a small college in Connecticut with a B average. Nice personality. Not an oil painting. Works part-time in a restaurant. Lives with her parents. Wants a job in broadcasting.

Good luck, right?

Richard Lewis asks this fictional young woman to tell him about herself. It turns out she's a Scottish dancer. She started when she was 12, worked hard at it, went to Scotland to master the form, won trophies.

How can Scottish dancing get Jennifer a job in TV?

"It's simple," Lewis tells her. "Scottish dancing is your special sauce. It demonstrates your uniqueness, drive and passion. You'll see."

Lewis shows her how to write a cover letter. (It's wrongly named. It's not just the thing that comes before your résumé.) Who you send it to. (Not HR.) How to "interview like George Clooney." (It's a performance.) How to follow up. How to act when you start the job. How to get the next job.

Does Jennifer get the job? Believe it. Can your kid? Can you? Yes. Because this isn't your dad's world -- there's no smarter way to crash the gates than branding yourself and marketing your brand.

If you run into Richard Lewis, drinks are on you.

Cross-posted from