How to Build Your Brand as a Software Engineer
With the lowest average employee tenure among leading industries at about three years, building your own brand in the tech industry has never been more important than it is today. “You should devote about 5% of your time to high-leverage marketing activities,” says Anthony Fasano, Executive Director of The Engineering Career Coach. In an ever-evolving tech climate, it’s important to stay in-the-know and position yourself as a desirable a candidate as possible so that when the next big opportunity comes your way, you’re ready to take advantage of it.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or fresh out of a coding camp, here are some tips, tools, and resources to help amplify your personal brand:
Targeted Networking – Rubbing shoulders with established tech managers and recruiters is one of the most effective ways to stand out in the job market hay stack. When you meet someone, you’re being indirectly introduced to their network as well. Before most jobs are posted online, they’re filled either internally or through a professional reference. One study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) claims referrals are five times more likely to be hired than job post respondents. Another study found that as much as 70% of open tech jobs will not be posted given the uniqueness of the tech job market. Not only attending, but also speaking at technology meetups is an efficient way to jump start your targeted networking effort. It helps position you as a thought leader in the local community and presents warm entry points with influencers in attendance.
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Sloane Barbour, Regional Director of Jobspring Partners New York, has additional insight on what qualifies candidates as thought leaders:
“To be considered a thought leader, candidates would need to have significant contributions to a popular open source framework, have written and published a notable book for developers, or have spoken at a prominent conference.” - Sloane Barbour, Regional Director of Jobspring Partners New York
Aggregate Your Online Portfolio – Publish projects on platforms like GitHub, HackerRank, Kaggle, and BitBucket. These projects will provide hiring managers with valuable insight in regards to your thought process as an engineer. Is the project clearly described? Does the project leverage open source libraries and frameworks? Is the code well-organized? How many completed projects are in the portfolio? How often are new projects uploaded?
Build a Personal Website – This serves as your brand’s home base and a soapbox to showcase your skillset. According to Workfolio, 56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool. About.me is another valuable online tool to present who you are and what you do in a comprehensive and appealing fashion.
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Lead Online Discussions – Contributing to forum discussions, webinar chats, and online communities can also help develop your extended network and provide access to decision makers and thought leaders that you’d have never met otherwise. Popular platforms include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Quora and Reddit, some of which you can also publish your own original content on. Writing articles as a contributor to platforms such as Business Insider, The Muse, Medium, Forbes, or technical publications can also spark the conversation and grow your impact as a subject matter expert.
Tailor Your Resume – Your resume should be adjusted for each job you apply to. Emphasize the most relevant skills required for the job in your summary, skills section and in your work experience. The ideal resume length is one to two pages, so avoid cluttering it with irrelevant experience. It should be easy to navigate and reflect your ability to provide a solution for a current business need, as well as showcase any subject matter expert contributions you've made as a thought leader.
Collect Professional Reviews –Professional reviews from past co-workers, managers and clients can help separate you from the rest of the pack by building trust and credibility. Position them prominently on your website and link back to them on your job search collateral. Only reviews from friends and family are trusted more than online reviews, according to research done by Vendesta.
While all of the above methods are effective, utilizing even one or two should prove beneficial. It’ll take time, effort and patience, but the end result will be a steady flow of relevant information for your next job search and an ever-expanding network of influencers and decision makers alike.